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New viewership rating system on cards

Friday, 21 March 2008 - 3:58am IST

Ironically, today most of the Rs 8,700 crore of the advertising coming into TV channels is based on TRPs generated by these boxes. Strange but true.

Broadcast Audio Research Council will operate 5 lakh people-meter boxes under the new system

MUMBAI: “You may have seen a UFO, but not a peoplemeter box,” said N Dilip Venkatraman, CMO-IBN Network & COO, IBN Focus, once about TAM Peoplemeter systems, the current yardstick for TV audience measurement.

Ironically, today most of the Rs 8,700 crore of the advertising coming into TV channels is based on TRPs generated by these boxes. Strange but true.

This may soon change, though. Broadcasters and advertisers are getting together to start a TV audience measurement system parallel to TAM Media Research. TAM is a joint venture between IMRB and AC Nielsen, set up in 1997.

The new measurement system, expected to be functional within two years, by Broadcast Audio Research Council (BARC), will operate almost 5 lakh people meter boxes, a huge leap from TAM’s 7,000-odd meters.

Sources say that in all likelihood, the operations for this new measurement system would be managed by an independent agency for which BARC will call for competitive bids from various parties. Depending on the cost structure, operating mechanisms and value-add being offered, the agency would be entrusted the responsibility.
When asked about the possibility of calling for bids, Sam Balsara, chairman and MD, Madison Communications (AAAI member) said, “I can’t comment on it now. We will make a public announcement later.”

Balsara, however, cautions that “how much the industry would be willing be spend on measurement is a point worth thinking about.” He said, “TV spends have gone up 6-7 times in 11-year period since TAM came into practice. Although more than 400 channels are on air, only 150-175 channels are used by advertisers. Measurement is a subject, which has generated much heat and dust within the industry. It took me 3 years to get one meeting organised between AAAI, IBF and ISA.”

Two stakeholders in BARC - Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) as well as the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) are slated to meet at Goafest in April and discuss the way ahead.
A few key challenges that BARC will have to overcome are the measurement of audiences from DTH and CAS areas, something which aMap (Audience Measurement and Analytics Ltd) is planning to direct technology towards in the coming days. aMap is the second currency after TAM that the television industry abides by. The primary difference between the two being that aMap delivers ratings on a daily basis (a day after the programme is aired) while TAM delivers ratings on a weekly basis.

“The television audience measurement business should not have any entry barriers. We welcome competition. No legacy or monopoly driven yardsticks should exist,” says Amit Varma, CEO, aMap. “At the end of the day, its not a question of sales, it is a question of what value can the data provide to the advertiser and what insights they can make out of it.”

IBN’s Venkatraman, however, feels that there should be single currency for measurement. “Let there not be two currencies. Measurement metrics must be simpler and not complex.”

TAM CEO LV Krishnan, however, shares a different view. “Whether there should be one currency for measurement is for the industry to decide. TAM’s been around for 10 years and the proof of the pudding lies in the fact that the industry relies on it. It’s not a question of how many boxes we put up and where. I think what one needs to take into account is what do you want to measure, what demography of users you’re looking at and what is required to do it,” he says.


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