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BARC India asserts its TV viewing data remains robust in post-NTO world

BARC India has maintained that despite changes in the distribution ecosystem, its television viewing estimates continue to be robust and precise in the post-NTO (New Tariff Regime) world. 

As is known, on February 1, 2019, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) implemented the New Tariff Order (NTO) with a requirement that migration needed to be completed by March 31, 2019. With this, households can customise the channels or bouquets of channels they receive. Families also can select the 75 non-DD free to air (FTA) channels they receive as part of the payment of the Network Capacity Fee (NCF). This change has resulted in a new environment where the specific channels received could dramatically differ from household to household. 

In its White Paper, titled ‘Measurement in a Post-NTO world’, BARC India has emphasised on data being robust, and highlighted the importance of accuracy and precision in its sample design, which results in this robust data. 

Sample surveys are a widely used technique to understand the characteristics of a population adequately. BARC India stated that it employs random probability sampling for its selection of panel households, wherein every sampling unit in the sampling frame has a known probability of selection; and the probability of selection for every sampling unit is greater than zero. 

By controlling the sampling processes, BARC India can increase the likelihood that the panel remains representative of the Indian TV owing population – thereby minimising relative errors and improving the precision of television audience estimates. The panel sampling procedures and panel representativeness has been audited by CESP, a global audit company specialising in audience measurement and research audits, and is found to be at least on par, if not exceeding, with global standards.

At the same time, BARC India stated that due to their dynamic nature, real time ground level changes like NTO cannot be factored in during the sampling process. However, the multiple control variables do ensure that the sample remains largely representative. 

The Council noted that the TRAI NTO has increased the fragmentation of television viewing. The availability, and thereby possible reach, of individual channels has thus been reduced. 

According to BARC India, the average number of channels viewed per TV Household has reduced post the implementation of TRAI’s NTO. At an All India level, pre-NTO 35 per cent of households watched 31 or more channels. This percentage decreased to 24 per cent post-NTO. On the other hand, the proportion of households watching 1 to 15 channels increased from 21 per cent to 30 per cent over the same period.

Meanwhile, BARC India said that it has commissioned the next Broadcast India Study, which will determine the number of television owning households in the country and will capture any change in the factors determining television viewing. The panel will undergo a change basis the findings of the study.

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