#TVRising: Reviewing the Big BARC Update

03 Mar,2017

By Shailesh Kapoor


For several months now, BARC India have been using the hashtag #TVRising in its tweets and infographics. This hashtag replaced an earlier one that said #PastCantPredictFuture. The latter played to the gallery and suggested, not intentionally perhaps, that forecasting consumer trends is a futile exercise. For an advocate of forecast sciences like me, it was a hashtag waiting to be killed.

#TVRising came across as a more interesting thought; one that focuses on category growth and positions the industry correctly. But the real impact of this thought came into effect only this year, when BARC India announced its universe expansion, based on the Broadcast India 2016 establishment survey conducted last year.

The big highlight, pinned currently on BARC India’s Twitter feed, is the increase in TV homes from 154 million to 183 million. The original universe was based on data from 2011 Census and IRS 2013. At that point, especially given the industry pressure to launch, this would have seemed like a good option. Now that BARC India is settled and running, a homegrown establishment survey is a welcome fixture to have.

The 19% universe size increase is a big headline, resulting in a similar increase in volume of viewership (Impressions) as well. For years, the currency debate on absolute vs. relative has gone on ad nauseam, but the collective will of all the stakeholders to move to an absolute measure has been missing. But even in such a scenario, it is difficult to ignore a jump as sizeable as this. Can it be monetized instantly? Perhaps not. But the story will find its way through the corridors of the media agencies and the spending brands. It cannot be side-stepped altogether.

TV’s penetration going up from 54% to 64% is an equally powerful headline. “Media-dark” areas have been a challenge for several mass FMCG brands, and this 10-points jump addresses a part of that challenge, especially because this growth primarily comes from small towns and rural India.

Change in reporting cuts in the BMW software seem to have been thought through well. Not reporting NCCS C and DE as stand-alone cuts is a smart, not-so-obvious move. If not anything, it will save the TV industry a few thousand hours of meaningless data ‘over-analysis’ over the next 12 months.

Similarly, not reporting 10-75L and <10L market cuts separately for low-weighted states, as well as combining MP-Chhattisgarh and Bihar-Jharkhand, are excellent steps. MP-Chhattisgarh has gone up in its contribution to the universe too, and will rightly emerge as a stronger priority market for Hindi channels once again.

Starting with 2+ instead of 4+ is a positive step too, though the sub-segmentation of kids being sacrificed in the interest of data robustness is a mixed story. Kids are growing up faster than ever, and the 2-8 and 9-14 yrs. cuts not being accessible anymore is a compromise, even if a valid one. As the panel size expands over this year, one could see this cut coming back.

At an overall level, the most heartening feature of this update is that it shows a sense of pro-activeness on behalf of BARC India to question the status quo and bring in new ideas. The universe update was due, but the small little things done around it show that there’s some good thinking going on.

There will always be detractors, as change is generally unsettling. But this is TV’s biggest opportunity in a while. Which category’s consumer base jumps “overnight” by 19%, after all?


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One response to “#TVRising: Reviewing the Big BARC Update”

  1. Paritosh Joshi says:

    While the change is welcome, I worry that data that dates back to February 2016 is being rolled out a whole year later. If you take the same growth rate ahead another year to today, you probably move the TV home population from 183 million to 193 million homes! If BARB, operating in a nearly stagnant UK market, feels the need to update its establishment twice a year, shouldn’t India look *at least* that frequency?