BARC seeks to build TV audience measurement system

The council “will settle for nothing less than being the best.”

Bureau Report

The Broadcast Audience Research Council, India (BARC) has issued a global Request for Information (RFI) to seek understanding of the state-of-the art in the area of Television Audience Measurement Research in particular and Audience Measurement Research in more general terms.

Punit Goenka, Chairman-BARC and MD & CEO, ZEE said in a statement, “BARC is committed to building a Television Audience Measurement System that becomes ipso facto the Gold Standard in its class worldwide. Given that BARC addresses a population of over 1 Billion, of which over 0.6 Billion have access to television in some form, I am confident that BARC will settle for nothing less than being the best.”

BARC is a Joint Industry Body set up in India in 2012 with the specific purpose of designing, commissioning, supervising and owning India’s Television Audience Measurement System. BARC is a joint venture bringing together the three key stakeholders in Television Audience Measurement, Broadcasters, Advertisers and Advertising & Media Agencies. Their respective apex bodies, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) and the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI), represent the three industries. When BARC commissions the new study, it is expected to replace the current vendor-owned, vendor-managed system operated by TAM Media Research.

The three way alliance will ensure that the sizable resources — financial as well as intellectual — required to mount such a massive, continuously running initiative are made available within a robust, transparent and accountable governance framework and stakeholders, in India and around the world, enjoy uninterrupted access to comprehensive, accurate, reliable and timely television audience measures.

Television audience measurement in India has been around for nearly three decades. Beginning with a simple diary based system in the early 1980s covering Doordarshan, then the state owned monopoly broadcaster, it evolved parallel to the evolution of the Indian TV market. By the mid-1990s, it was already covering Satellite Television and in the early part of this century, India was one of the earliest television markets to have a pure Peoplemeter based system.

Shashi Sinha, Chairman-TechComm, BARC and CEO-Lodestar UM & CEO-IPG Mediabrands India stated, “At various times, more than one vendor has attempted to provide audience measurement but from 2002, TAM Media Research, India- a joint venture of Nielsen and Kantar, has been the de facto provider of the measurement currency, being widely used by all three stakeholder constituencies for all commercial and marketing decision making. It is clear that legacy architecture of the system, that has evolved incrementally, is now ready for seminal change. However, what is not clear is the contours of the new system, which BARC aims to define.”

The challenges for an audience measurement system in the era of Digitalization bringing in its wake a massive expansion in choice of content coupled with accelerating adoption of new technologies that are time shifting consumption away from the Fixed Time Chart (FTC) and spatially shifting it to personal digital appliances are altogether different from the era when television meant living rooms, common choices and shared family experience.

In a release, BARC said it understands that a good system rests as much on a sound understanding of the footprint of the medium: the Establishment Study; as it does on continuous tracking of viewing behavior: the Television Meter Panel. It is also aware of a number of technologies at varying stages of development that promise non-intrusive or minimally intrusive viewership measurement; also developments in the area of integrated media consumption metrics e.g. IPA’s Touchpoints 4 exercise scheduled for next year. All these are of interest to the architecture of the future system in India. BARC said, it expects respondents to incorporate their own experiences in these areas as items of emphasis in the response to this RFI.

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