BARC is just the messenger of audience: Partho Dasgupta

MUMBAI: Broadcasters Audience Research Council (BARC) India CEO Partho Dasgupta has said that the audience measurement body cannot be blamed for the deterioration of content on TV as it is akin to a postman which just delivers the message.

Speaking at the FICCI Frames 2018, Dasgupta also stated that BARC provides data but doesn’t influence it, therefore, the criticism over the falling standards of content on TV is unfair.

He also averred that the criticism will not help in building a robust audience measurement system.

“We are just messengers of the audience. Take us as just messengers where we tell you what happens but not influence what happens. One can go about condemning viewership measurement system but that is no way of constructively building an industry and the future of TV,” Dasgupta told the audience after giving a presentation on the TV universe in India.

He further stated that the penetration of TV in India is on the rise since 2004 and today stands at 183 million translating to 64% penetration of the total households in India. The TV universe has 780 million individuals.

TV penetration still has headroom for growth in rural India which has 52% penetration compared to 87% in urban. The urban and rural households stand at 84 million and 99 million respectively.

He also pointed out that terrestrial, which used to be the only form of distribution till the mid-90s, is nearly extinct with digital penetration touching a historic 98%.

The total daily tune-ins on TV is 566 million with 375 million tune-ins coming from Hindi Speaking Market (HSM) while South accounting for the rest. At 4 hours 9 minutes, South has a higher time spent than HSM’s 3 hours 31 minutes.

Dasgupta also pointed that the notion that youth don’t watch TV is false as there has been a sharp increase in content consumption on TV by the 15-30 age-group in 2017.

There has been a surge in the number of free to air (FTA) channels from 162 in 2015 to 282 in 2017 marking a 74% growth. The number of pay channels increased 14% to 240 during the same period.

Regional languages led by Gujarati and Assamese have seen a massive growth in viewership in 2017 compared to 2016.

Kabaddi has emerged as the second largest sport in the country with 15% share trailing Cricket, which leads the chart with 69% share of sports viewership. Wrestling and Soccer have 5% share each.

He also stated that Salman Khan movies rule not just the bigger screens but also the smaller screens with ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ and ‘Prem Ratan Dhan Payo’ being the most watched films. Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, and Tiger Shroff also perform well on the TV screen.

Dasgupta also noted that one of the key factors for the growth in TV viewership is the improvement in electricity in states like West Bengal and Karnataka.

He also highlighted that rise in temperatures has a direct impact on viewership as most people delay their daily chores to the evening when the mercury goes down.

Another key trend pointed out by Dasgupta is that South sees a spike in viewership during key festive seasons. On national holidays, the entire country sees a rise in viewership.

With a large migrant population outside Bihar/Jharkhand, the Bhojpuri genre gets a whopping 41% viewership from outside its core markets like Delhi, Gujarat, and Assam. Sharing another key trend linked to migration, Dasgupta said that Tamil is the second most popular language in Bengaluru.

The growth in TV viewership is also linked to growing literacy.

He also mentioned that there has been a surge in the viewership share of females in the news genre.