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BARC and changing landscape of Indian TV viewing measurement

MUMBAI: The wait is finally over after seven years! On Wednesday, the Indian broadcast sector will have a completely new TV rating system under Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), a joint industry body promoted by broadcasters (60 per cent), advertisers (20 per cent), and advertising agencies (20 per cent).

Originally planned in 2008, BARC was to be set up with the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) and the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) alone in a 60:40 ratio with an initial investment of Rs 30 crore (Rs 300 million).

However, ISA wanted Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) also to be part of it, and finally, on 14 March 2012, BARC was formally formed to design, commission, supervise and own a new and ‘accurate, reliable and timely’ television audience measurement system for India.

On 29 April, it will roll out its first set of ratings (urban data on a household basis).  The industry will know if there is a change in the pecking order under the aegis of the new rating system, and how TV viewing consumption is shaping up.

TelevisionPost.com digs deep into what to expect from BARC.

What’s new and different?

The answer to this question is: everything. Compared to the existing TV rating agency, TAM Media Research, BARC will have everything—from a much bigger sample size to the consumer classification system (NCCS instead of SEC) to methodology to technology to reporting of data—new and different.

Unlike TAM, BARC will capture rural viewership trends as well (from Phase II it will start giving urban+ rural data, along with urban data). It will also measure catch-up TV along with linear TV.

Measurement process

How much investments have been made?

The stakeholders have already committed over Rs 280 crore (Rs 2.80 billion). BARC has put in Rs 180 crore (Rs 1.80 billion) for the mechanism, while broadcasters have spent over Rs 100 crore (Rs 1 billion) for audio watermarking the channel feeds.

What all will BARC capture?

BARC aims to report on ‘what India watches’. This includes 153.5 million households, of which 77.5 million are in urban, while 76 million are in rural.

As of now, it has over 295 channels watermarked, while it will be monitoring spots on over 350 channels.

How frequent will the ratings be?

Like TAM, BARC will release ratings every week, but on Wednesday. Unlike TAM, where a week was Sunday to Saturday, BARC’s data will be available for Saturday to Friday period, thus capturing both weekend and weekday programming during one week.

Will ratings be very different?

In a recent closed-door meeting, BARC had released some data trends and according to them, there are no changes in the pecking order of the channels in most of the genres.

One of the two changes was that for the first time, there was separate data for high-definition (HD) feeds, which was not there in the case of TAM. Besides, the gross television rating points (GRP), or the total of all rating points, have almost doubled as it threw up household data.

How will the ratings help English and niche genres?

As sample size will be much higher than the current ratings system, the niche and English genre will get a better picture of their viewership. The present system is inadequate to capture the data for these genres.

Will it give urban and rural data from Day 1?

BARC will have a phased rollout and initially the viewership data will be released for urban India having cable and satellite (C&S) homes in the cities with population of over 100,000. Rural and terrestrial data will be released after three months of the launch.

In Phase I, BARC will have 10,760 households as reporting panels. In this, metros will have 51 per cent sample, followed by 22 per cent from Cluster 1, and 17 and 10 per cent from Clusters 2 and 3, respectively.

BARC will start giving the urban+ rural data separately after three months. Moreover, in Phase I, the data will be reported on a household level and not individual level, which will increase the gross rating points (GRPs) of channels.

barc HH

After Phase II, with 20 thousand households across India (25,000 BAR-o-meter), for All India market, the recommended sample will be 29 per cent from six metros, 32 per cent from Cluster 1, 24 per cent from Cluster 2, and 15 per cent from Cluster 3.

What will be the share of metros vis-à-vis other states?

BARC has divided the country into three separate clusters. The top five are with over 8 per cent of TV-owning households, next five have 5 to 7 per cent, and the remaining five have less than 5 per cent TV-owning households.

BARC has taken into consideration all the TV households and not just C&S (cable and satellite) as it will also capture the terrestrial mode of transmission.

BARC has allocated 30 per cent of the all-India sample size to rural India, which comprises 6,000 meters. Excluding the six metros, in comparison with urban demographic, rural India will have 43 per cent share.

Reporting markets

Spot monitoring service

BARC launched its spot monitoring and certification service, SpotTrek, on 24 March. It is a third-party certification system to track the commercial spots and movie trailers telecast on TV.

Methodology: How is NCCS different from earlier SEC?

BARC’s audience classification will not be based on the old SEC (socio-economic classification) demographic but on a new consumer classification system (NCCS).

NCCS will be based on two variables—education of chief earner and number of ‘consumer durables’ owned by the family. The list has 11 items, ranging from ‘electricity connection’ and ‘agricultural land’ to cars and air conditioners. NCCS will give a better picture of purchasing power of the household or the demographic, which an advertiser will be more interested in.

The earlier SEC was based on two demographic variables—occupation of chief earner and education of chief earner, where the chances of a household elevating to upper SEC was unlikely, despite the increase in the spending power.

BARC NCCS HH

It will have a single system for urban and rural India and more discrimination compared to the current SEC and will be more objective as it captures affordability quotient of households.

BARC will also be revisiting the system at least once every two years to make necessary changes, as consumer durables penetration changes faster.

What will be the reporting parameters?

BARC will present data in male and female genders, but instead of existing SEC, it will have new SEC based on NCCS.

It has bifurcated age groups in: Kids (4–8 years), tweens & schoolers (9–14 years), Youth (15–21 years), Young Adults (22–30 years), Adults (31–40 years), Peak (41–50 years), Mature (51–60 years), and Seniors (61+ years)

Technology partners

BARC has roped in French firm Médiamétrie as its technology partner to build the technology framework. Prime Focus Technologies (PFT) is contracted to offer play-out monitoring service to power BARC, which, once implemented, will be one of the world’s largest audience measurement programmes.

For watermarking technology, BARC has commissioned Dutch company Civolution.

How audio watermarking technology works?

BARC is using audio watermarking technology, which is accurate, has auto recognition, and is future proof. Civolution has helped BARC create the audience measurement system.

Watermarking

Audio watermarking solution is a platform-agnostic technology that captures video content consumption on all platforms. It is an encoding process that involves inserting an inaudible audio watermark into the content at the broadcaster’s end from where the signal will play out.

The watermark has a time stamp, programme ID and a channel ID on it. The moment a viewer switches on a particular channel and watches a show, the audio watermarking technology will immediately retrieve it through the code inserted into the content. The technology is also capable of tracking time-shifted and device-shifted viewing. Thus, if a viewer records a show on their digital video recorder (DVR) and watches it later, the watermarking technology will detect it.

Measuring recorded telecast

Once the audio watermark is embedded in the transmission by the broadcaster, it cannot be removed and BARC meters will measure it, even if it is played after the actual telecast. While the meters can store data for up to two months, it will be measured up to seven days of the original telecast or VOSDAL (viewed on same day as live).

Measurement meters cost

BAR-o-meters, which are manufactured in India, are very cheap compared to the existing peoplemeters of TAM. The cost of one BAR-o-meter is around Rs 25,000, which is one-sixth of globally available meters, and allows BARC to scale up easily.

The BAR-o-meters are powered by Intel chips and use third-generation OLED display. Moreover, the meters are mapped with key GSM operators across the country, which will allow seamless data collection.

What are key features of BARC’s software BMW?

Designed by Portuguese market research and audience measurement organisation Marktest Group’s Markdata, the new rating software, BMW or BARC India Media Workstation, will ‘save’ subscribers a lot of time.

BMW is designed to provide better media output with reduced manhours, superior quality analysis, faster decision-making, and sharper report generation.

BMW will address all the challenges of the current system (TAM), which is slow for larger volumes of data and has a linear selection process across. Besides, it does not come with a built-in optimiser and reports are restricted to numerical representation. Added to these is the high dependency on Excel.

The seven key highlights of BMW are customised reports, graphical representation, individual analysis, audience movement, built-in optimiser, targeted batch runs, and ‘tele view’.

The pricing model for subscribers

BARC has designed a standard pricing model for its principal stakeholders. While subscribers will end up paying roughly the same amount they were paying TAM, the individual entities would find the pricing more scientific, objective, and different.

As per BARC’s pricing policy, broadcasters will need to pay a flat cess as a percentage of net TV advertising billing. This cess percentage will be reviewed periodically to account for any change in the base cost due to change in the sample size, etc.

Media agencies will have to pay based on an equaliser model that works on three distinguishing parameters: (1) billing (number of clients serviced by the agency); (2) footprint (markets being catered for planning and servicing); (3) scale (number of categories handled by the agency).

Values have been assigned to each factor to arrive at the final pricing, which has been designed and vetted by Ernst & Young (E&Y). BARC has also mentioned that there will be discounts on early payments, premium subscription packages, customised reports, etc.

BARC has a designed secure online pricing widget for both broadcasters and agencies to fill in their respective subscription details based on outgoing proposals.

What does BARC logo signify?

Inspired by the RUBIK’s Cube, the BARC logo symbolically reflects the puzzle the industry is dealing with and which the BARC team is aiming to solve ‘uniquely, vibrantly and transparently’.

The logo and brand visual identity is for solving the structural problem of moving the parts independently without the entire mechanism falling apart.

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