BARC is ready, but IBF?

29 Apr,2015


By A Correspondent


Update @ 1.49pm: The fears have been allayed. BARC’s future-ready TV audience measurement data will be released today

The coconuts were ready to be broken. A new sun was rising today. Data analysts made it to their offices early. There was indeed much anticipation. We almost didn’t sleep. Okay, that last bit was an exaggeration. We did catch some winks. But you know why all this tamasha:  the first data from Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) was scheduled to be released today.


Till late last evening though, the BARC big bosses were grappling with a new problem, and this didn’t concern set-top boxes, the technology, etc etc. Some members of the Indian Broadcasting Federation, the apex body of broadcasters, wanted the release of data to be delayed. They reportedly wanted some more stability.


When we teased whether it was BARC’s IRS moment, given all the madness that happened (and is still playing out) with the print readership study IRS, we were told it wasn’t that bad. These were just reservations. Niggling problems. And no it wasn’t raised by a network whose sporting activity is getting many numbers. In fact all the GECwallahs are pretty happy with the way BARC is going about its task. It’s the smaller channels, specifically some news channels who are upset. There is a conference call scheduled at 12.45pm today to deliberate on the issue.


Meanwhile, TAM, which was until recently subscribed by most broadcasters, still exists, but key stakeholders – television channels, media agencies and advertisers – and have in fact released data comparing household versus individuals. It may be noted that BARC is currently only due to publish household viewership data.


Partho Dasgupta

The diversity in cultural and media consumption in the country makes the work of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India the most challenging service governed by a single joint industry body for the entire country, said BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta on the eve of the release of data. With the number of TV-viewing households likely to go up from 20,000 to 50,000 in four years, the process will become even more complex, he added.


Over 300 channels having ordered for the watermarking technology, and with over 272 channels already live, BARC India’s stakeholders – broadcasters, media agencies and advertisers  have, got together some of the top vendors from across the globe offering technology and solutions.  BARC India, has invested 76% of its budget on technology, it is learnt.


According to Dasgupta, around 3000 professionals have been trained with the BARC India Media Workstation (BMW). NCCS, or the new SEC system, will be the norm to follow for accurate classification and data analytics. The pre-launch and post-launch audit processes were conducted by Ernst and Young’s  Florida team.


Meanwhile, TAM, a joint venture of Nielsen and WPP-owned Kantar Media, is considering an urban-centric audience measurement service. There have also been rumours that BARC could well either buy over TAM’s TV audience measurement facility or turn its sole subscriber. When asked what TAM and he plan to do after BARC data is released, CEO LV Krishnan, who has helmed TAM since 2000, told MxMIndia in an interview yesterday: “On May 1, I’ll still be in business and there is never an end-of-the-road for anything. There will be a new kind of a craft that we will create…”


So what happens to BARC now? We’ll know for sure by 1.30pm what course the conversation takes. Hmmmm.


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