Exclusive! BARC in talks to buy TAM?

12 Mar,2015


By A Correspondent


Entertainment television is all about twists and turn in the fictional serials. Cricket, as you would’ve heard several times over, is a game of glorious uncertainties. So why then should there be surprise over the possibility of BARC buying up TAM.

Okay, let’s cut the tease. Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) has indeed been in discussions to buy the television audience measurement business of TAM, the firm jointly owned by WPP’s Kantar Media Research and Nielsen. And, yes, it’s March 12 today, not April 1.

According to reasonably reliable sources, there have been a detailed dialogue between the joint industry body-managed BARC and TAM owners Kantar and Nielsen. The talks haven’t concluded yet and the mid-point formula that was suggested by a WPP representative has been reportedly rejected by BARC bosses.

Both BARC and TAM were unavailable for comment, but from what one learns, BARC was seriously considering the buy.

So why gobble up TAM when the audience research measurement activity of the measurement body was under question? Well, even as doubts were being raised, there is no denying that broadcasters, advertisers and media agency use TAM as the currency for their buying decisions. Also, as industry analyst told us, TAM comes with a ready 12,000-odd panel, established processes and teams and archival data.

And from TAM’s point of view, why sell out to BARC? Given that all stakeholders have contributed to the BARC kitty, it’s evident that sooner or later all TAM subscribers will exit the system or want to renegotiate. Given this, it’s best to sell the existing well-oiled measurement machinery to BARC which would find it of use, said the analyst we spoke to earlier.

TAM has already made it known to subscribers (and the media) that it will continue operations even as there is a significant number (in billings at least) of subscribers who have said they would like to unsubscribe. If TAM continues to exist, there will be several comparisons made with the new measurement system, and those subscribers who may be rated poorly by the BARC system vis-a-vis TAM may quote the latter. This could even lead to advertisers questioning the BARC data and hence cause a confusion in the marketplace.

As reported on MxMIndia earlier, the ghost of the Indian Readership Survey has raised anxiety levels in the industry. For, MRUC and RSCI, the bodies running IRS are jointly run and owned by various stakeholders in the industry. And despite it being an industry association, print players are up in arms against the new IRS.

BARC, meanwhile, is said to be only in the discussion with the television audience measurement business of TAM. Other divisions such as the Strategy or S Group which offers advisory service on measurement, AdEx India, RAM for radio audience measurement, Eikona for measurement of earned media and PR activity and TAM Sports, which offers special analysis of sports ROI will not be part of the deal if it goes through.

So where do things stand now? At the time of writing, the talks have been suspended. But as the date approaches for the launch of the system, and the stakes for both BARC and TAM grow higher, the deal could well be inked. Like on television, be ready for the climax.


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