Business news genre should get adequate sample representation: Megha Tata, BTVI

It’s Thursday again. It’s that day of the week when I get a bit anxious and a bit nervous. It’s what we – television professionals – colloquially call as a data day when BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) releases weekly TV viewership data. And the reason for my anxiety is the volatile nature of the viewership reports that my genre (English Business news) receives. This volatility is primarily due to the relatively lower sample points representing special interest genres’ viewership.

India as a country is growing at a healthy pace. Stock markets are achieving new highs every month. More and more Indians have started investing either directly in the stock market or through some other forms of equity-linked investments like mutual funds. This makes me believe that more and more of them should be watching business news channels like BTVI -Business Television India. To quote Morgan Stanley report, trading in Indian stock markets is likely to grow from $21 trillion to $41 trillion by 2027. These investments imply more interest in business news. In such a scenario, shouldn’t the viewership for the business news genre in India grow?

In a vibrant economy like ours which is witnessing an increased interest in business news consumption, I sincerely wish that the Business News genre got adequate sample representation. Can’t we look at democratising the funding BARC receives from various stakeholders/ broadcasters and channelise the same to improve rating inconsistencies for special interest genres like ours by improving the sample size? The same way government collects taxes from all states and allocates funds to improve relatively disadvantaged states. Just a thought…

Another method of achieving the objective could be to widen the scope of measurement from only Households to office spaces as well. A bulk of the viewership for business news genre consists of 22+ Male from NCCS AB of 8 metros. Socioeconomic profile of our TG implies that our viewers are watching us outside of their homes, and more so during crucial market hours of 8 am to 4 pm.

Same goes for sports genre. There are many who watch a cricket or a football match on screens inside a sports bar. This viewership goes unaccounted for. A measured out of home viewership will also help the special interest genres monetize better.

In an increasingly mobile-first world, content consumption is happening across mobile handsets, tablets, laptops along with advanced television technologies like IP TV. Viewers are also recording the shows and watching them at leisure – a week later or sometimes even a month later. A trusted and universally understood common rating currency will not only enable content assessment but also fuel media business. It should also capture time-shifted viewing, VOD and OTT viewing across devices. I hope the upcoming module of BARC – EKAM – addresses these concerns.

Last but certainly not the least, we the broadcasters, advertisers, and media agencies have a key role to play here. Globally, many special interest channels are not measured in a detailed manner like we do in India. Some of the biggest global English news brands use quarterly data to evaluate viewership patterns. Can we as media and advertiser community agree to accept monthly data instead of using inconsistent weekly data? Again, just a thought…