BARC decision on Pay & FTA viewership: Broadcasters see more clarity

The past few weeks have seen some rapid developments taking place at BARC India as well as its decisions on landing page, outliers and now its decision to start reporting viewership from free and pay platforms separately starting Week 27 (29th June – 5th July). 

In a release issued yesterday (July 8, 2019) BARC India stated that the new Pay & Free platform variable would be offered over and above the current Urban & Rural cuts that are reported by BARC India. It will be made available to all the subscribers for planning & analysis through its proprietary BARC Media Workstation Software. It will also be published on the website for select genres. 


While saying that it was early in the day to comment on its utility, Ritu Dhawan, MD & CEO, India TV, commented this particular development might be able to add another dimension to the resource deployment matrix, particularly in certain specific segments, geographically and otherwise. 

Read more: BARC remains mum as industry rife with rumours on TV ratings data split

Dhawan further felt that this might also help in getting a more refined perspective on the rural markets, specifically because of DD Free Dish and its huge impact on these markets, along with insights on viewership of pay channels especially in rural areas. “This may lead to some course corrections by both free and pay channels,” she added. 


Welcoming BARC’s move, Neeraj Vyas, Senior EVP and Business Head, Sony Max, Sony Max 2, Sony Mix, remarked, “I always thought it was imperative to classify pay and FTA. FTA clearly rests on the shoulders of DD Direct and its viewer base is largely rural and markets with less than 1 million population.” 

He further said, “There is a minuscule overlap in the urban markets, but more importantly, true value (ad rates) of the GRPs will emerge with this move. From a media planning perspective, too, there will be a lot more clarity on who’s buying what for which brand and at what price.” 


Rabindra Narayan, Managing Director & President, PTC Network, remarked that separating pay TV viewership from free platforms was a leap forward for BARC. “Channels with recycled content or practically zero investment on content would get TRPs just because they were available on DD Free Dish platforms. It has been really rough for channels like PTC Punjabi to explain to planners that DD Free Dish viewers are not the target consumers for most advertisers. It also gave skewed viewership numbers. For those who invest in content and pay huge carriage fees to be carried on cable and DTH, this is the moment of justice.” 


Reiterating his support for BARC, Joy Chakraborthy, CEO, Enterr 10 Television (which runs Dangal TV, currently the No. 1 Hindi GEC in Rural+Urban), believed that all new reportings and innovations that they brought about was in the interest of all and helped provide broadcasters with more and more clarity. “Separate free and pay reporting is another such step taken by BARC, as per me,” he said, even as he called BARC a neutral measurement currency that the entire industry follows and added that there are crores that advertisers and broadcasters invest basis the data that it provides. 

Speaking further, Chakraborthy said, “There is a huge base of viewers in Urban and Rural markets who are on the Free base and have the propensity to spend. This base can only be covered through the free-to-air channels. The strength of free connections lies in the core Hindi speaking markets of central and northern India, markets like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. Now with this separation in reportage, the strength that the FTA channels have will get highlighted.” 

However, there are a few who don’t see much purpose being served by BARC separating Pay and FTA viewership. A leading news broadcaster, who did not wish to be named, argued, “The whole point was to create a unified India representation, and now that it is not working for a few channels, it’s been used to create further confusion in the market. It’s not even relevant for genres like News as they are the most widely distributed genre and available on all platforms. Within news, all paid channels are available on DD Free Dish and all FTA channels are available across others, so I don’t understand what objectives are being achieved except for some vested parties.”

While Pawan Jailkhani, Chief Revenue Officer, 9X Media, believed that data points or data analytics were always good, he added that it largely depended how data would be interpreted and what reference industry took out of it. He felt that it was too early to see and conclude as it would take at least 3-4 weeks before it threw up substantial trends. “Overall, nothing is going to change, what is panning out right now in terms of viewership, like for example, we as a network will continue to rule in the space, because largely we know what our consumers want and we are providing that kind of content across pay as well as on free platform. I see this another cut of data version out of the whole universe of BARC panel and eventually it will benefit all stakeholders,” he added.


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