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Market Research User’s Council-NRS spat over TV, C&S households

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Market Research User’s Council-NRS spat over TV, C&S households

As is perhaps the case every time, there are stark differences in some of the findings of Indian Readership Survey (IRS) 2005 R 1 and National Readership Survey (NRS) 2005. One point of difference that has caught the fancy of many is number of TV and C&S households in the country.

The Market Research User’s Council (MRUC) has issued a circular showing the flaws in NRS 2005 in regards to these findings, while ACNielsen, the sole agency responsible for the NRS 2005 findings, has responded by pointing the errors in MRUC’s circular.

The 53 per cent jump in C&S households attracted substantial industry attention and even led to TAM Media Research doubling the number of people meters in order to represent the present C&S populace better.

In the circular, MRUC presents the figures quoted by Census 2001, NRS and IRS, indicating that most extreme numbers towards a higher end come from NRS. The circular points out that as per MRUC’s calculation, NRS 2005 has an overestimation of households by about 6 per cent, and TV homes by 14-15 million. This has also impacted the estimation of C&S Homes by about 22 per cent more.

The circular further states that assuming a reasonable level of growth in TV and C&S penetration levels across states, IRS estimates the total universe of installed TV base as – TV homes at 90-94 million and C&S homes at 46- 50 million by the end of 2005.

A MRUC official explained, “We work as a team with Hansa Research and we asked them to analyse this issue closely so that we can explain the same to our clients.”

On being asked as to how they saw this allegation, an ACNielsen spokesperson said, “We believe our estimation is correct and accurately reflects the growth of C&S TV penetration. This has been validated with other data on television set purchases, and we believe that our estimate corroborates very well with this.”

The spokesperson insisted that the starting point for the figures quoted in the document being circulated was incorrect. “Unfortunately the distributors of this document have, in their haste to prove us wrong, not bothered to go deeply into the numbers. The fact is that the alleged Census 2001 numbers indicated in the document actually pertain to a sample survey carried out by the Census bureau during the April-June 2000 period. Therefore, the attribution to inordinately high growth rates in the NRS is totally invalid. Indeed it points to unrealistically low growth rates in the other survey,” the spokesperson maintained.

MRUC’s circular shows that Census 2001 estimates the TV households close to 60 million, which is 32 per cent of all households. The total number of installed TV homes as per IRS 2005 is 83 million (as of June 2004). This denotes a penetration of 41 per cent of all homes in urban and rural India, representing a growth of about 9 per cent in penetration over Census 2001.

NRS 2005, on the other hand, pegs the TV installed base at 108 million homes, which means a 51 per cent penetration, on a base of 213 million total estimated homes. In simpler words, an increase of 48 million TV households, “or 82 per cent more TV homes got added to the universe in the last four years, which is a very large number to deal with,” states the circular.

The ACNielsen spokesperson pointed out, “Given the fact that 8-10 million TV sets were purchased annually by Indian households since 2001 (excluding imported sets), an increase of 48 million TV households over five years seems eminently plausible. Indeed, if we are to look at NRS data from 2001 to 2005, we are talking of an increase of TV households from 79 million to 108 million, which ties in very well with the TV set purchases on an annual basis.”

From the looks of it, the clarifications would still have left the decision makers and data users confused. The only thing one can be certain of is that, we haven’t heard the end of it yet.

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