Shailesh Kapoor: BARC Is Here: New Ratings, A New Era!

30 Apr,2015

By Shailesh Kapoor


Finally, the first BARC ratings were released yesterday. Ongoing debate, both reasonable and fallacious, around the credibility of the ratings system, that lasted over a decade can be set aside. We finally have a “solution” in sight. Just that BARC will have to earn its way into becoming that solution.


Evidently, what was released yesterday was the first stage of reporting that BARC would eventually deliver. To begin with, it is household data, not individual data. I don’t remember seeing any peoplemeters-based household data in India over the last 15 years. So we definitely have a new measure to keep us statistically occupied, till BARC shifts to individual data. If they continue to report both individual and household data in the long run, we can be in the most interesting viewership analysis that you could potentially have.


The coverage of urban LC1 and rural markets will be the next stage, which should hopefully be not too far away. And then, of course, is the big promise of increasing the sample to 50,000 over the next three years, a task of monumental proportions, the operational complexity of which is ill-understood by many, including many in the television industry and certainly many in the I&B ministry.


Comparisons to TAM are bound to happen, though they are highly inappropriate, given that so much has changed, right from the market composition to the change from SEC to NCCS to the change from individual to household reporting in this first round. Yet, the big GEC headline that was doing the rounds in the industry last evening was ‘Life OK beats Zee TV to take the no. 3 spot’. Sometimes, the diagnostics are lost in the pursuit of headlines.


I also saw BARC “on-air” last night. Never to skip an opportunity, Arnab Goswami had a promotional video airing in prime time, where he quoted the first BARC ratings freely, stressing on the wide gap between Times Now and “other small English news channels.” The promo ends with “Times Now Welcomes BARC”.


Though a standalone, single-channel promo, it says a lot about how the data could be received by broadcasters in general. You can expect to see a flurry of e-mailers and one-on-one client communication by channels that have done well in these first ratings. And there are bound to voices of dissent from those who haven’t, though I suspect those voices will be more like murmurs, given the whole-hearted IBF backing to BARC.


TAM, meanwhile, has been portraying the image of a battered soldier who refuses to surrender. It should be worthwhile seeing what they come up with. Clearly, we are not in for a two-currency system. So, it would have to an offering that’s distinctive from the BARC repertoire. We shall know, with time.


From before-BARC to after-BARC, an era may have changed yesterday. Be prepared for an eventful 2015, where talk about ratings will dominate all talks about content and brands in the television space (so what’s new, some may say). After a two-year long trailer, the film has been released, but it will reveal itself reel by reel, scene by scene. Grab your popcorn!


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