Will BARC’s change in viewership data publishing format lead to lack of transparency?

Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India has stopped publishing genre-wise TV viewership data since last Thursday, June 17, 2021 for the non-subscribers. Instead, the TV measurement body released data for the Top 5 channels in different states and markets, and the Top 10 channels for All India, +2. BARC has continued with providing data for the Top 10 Advertisers and Top 10 Brands across genres.

Ever since BARC India was incorporated, it has been providing data for different genres, along with the Top 5 most watched shows on GECs across major languages.

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BARC split the TV viewership data for Hindi GECs into Urban, Rural and Urban+Rural, since NTO 1.0 came into effect. Since Week 27 of 2019, BARC further split the TV viewership data for Hindi GECs into All Platforms, Pay Platforms and Free Platforms.

However, all that data will now not be available for the non-subscribers.

When Adgully reached out to BARC India to find out regarding the need for changing the format for publishing the viewership data, a BARC spokesperson in an email response explained, “In-line with global best practices and to further align with the currency data provided via YUMI software to the subscribers, BARC India would be moving to publishing Market-wise data on its website from Week 23 of 2021 (that is, data starting June 5, 2021) onwards.”

"The purpose of the data on our website is only to provide a top-line view to interested non-subscribers."

The spokesperson further said, “Please note that the purpose of the data on our website is only to provide a top-line view to interested non-subscribers and as in the past, we request that you send us your specific queries, and BARC India will respond on a case to case basis based on internal policy.”

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This change in the format for publishing the viewership data by BARC will cause lack of transparency in TV ratings data. Genre-wise data is important to track growth/ degrowth trends and gives a more comprehensive view of the TV landscape in the country.

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Some industry experts say that BARC doesn’t want the TV data to be granular and believe that the measurement body wants to have a tighter control on access to its data.

One wonders whether this move is meant to avoid greater scrutiny by the media. The operations of BARC India have been under intense scrutiny ever since the TRP scam exploded in 2020. While the data will continue to be available to the subscribers, what point will it serve to block access to the non-subscribers? After all, genre-wise data has been made available on the public platform since BARC’s inception without any incident.


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