Will BARC’s new policy for news ratings clear the mess?

21 Mar,2022

 

 

By Indrani Sen

 

Indrani SenThe announcement was long overdue. Finally on last Thursday, the advertising and media industry was glued to the release of TV news channels’ ratings which was released by Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) after 17 months starting with Week 10, 2022.

 

BARC announced that an Augmented Data Reporting Standards for news and special Interest genres has been developed and tested over some weeks before releasing the ratings to the industry. The revised approved standards prescribes that the audience estimates for these genres will be released every week based on a rolling average of ratings of 4-weeks to meet with the industry’s needs. BARC briefed their shareholders in details about the new method through webinar and Q&A sessions.

 

The release of the ratings for week 10, 2022 was followed by the release of the past data for the previous 13 weeks from Week 49, 2021 to Week 9, 2022 though the ratings were not available from week 40, 2020 to week 9, 2021. It is to be noted that the channels within the news and special interest genre subscribing for BARC ratings were given an option to opt out form getting the details of the past data and consequently they have been clubbed together as “other channels” in the reports of the past 13 weeks.

 

The renewal of reporting of the ratings of the news channels has come at a time when most of the annual deals for TV channels across different genres are planned and negotiated. Lately the free to air news channels have been up in arms against BARC accusing them of delaying tactics by not releasing the ratings of the news channels before the crucial period when decisions about annual distribution of TV ad revenues are made. BARC defended themselves with the argument that data processing as per the new methods and testing of the data had to be given adequate time.

 

The document on ‘Policy for Augmented Data Reporting Standards for News & Special Interest Genres’ is available on the website of BARC India and clarifies the definitions of

1. Genre-Language Classification of Channels and

2. Definition of News and Special Interest Genres

 

It also details out Augmented Data Reporting Standards which has been developed “In order to preserve data security and integrity and keep the cadence of advertisement planning consistent for all channels” (Source: https://www.barcindia.co.in/policy-updates/barc-india-policy-for-augmented-data-reporting-standards.pdf)

 

Every week, BARC will release two databases of which the currency data will be a “4-week rolling average channel level audience estimates for the News and Special Interest genres and regular daily unrolled audience estimates for all other genres/channels.” This currency data will be available to all subscribers in the YUMI software and will be used for all transactions including rate negotiations. The second database will be weekly unrolled data and will be released only to broadcasters having one or more channels in the news and special interest category through a separate YUMI database and license. The broadcasters will only get to see the unrolled data for their own channels and not for their competitive channels. This unrolled data cannot be used for transactional purpose, but only for analysis of performance of own channels and future planning for the same. Many features of the currency data will not be available for the unrolled data. Respondent Level Data (RLD) audience estimate will be available for the news channels only on a rolling average of 4 weeks basis and under currency data and will not be given under unrolled data.

 

The new policy has provision for Customized Event Reports (CER) with well defined target groups for different genres. It also provides Currency Data Usage Guidelines to the news and special interest genres. Finally, it has provisions for News Query Resolution for Current & Past Data with rules and regulations applicable for the same.

 

On the whole, it seems that BARC India has come up with a technology driven solution for taking care of the issues of high variance and bounce found earlier in the audience estimates of News and Special Interest genre channels. The problem was largely related to low sample size tuned to these channels and their specific target audiences. Let us hope that this new policy would satisfy the channels in the News and Special Interest genre and will end their grievances against BARC India.

 

 

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