Television ratings are obsolete, says Star TV India chief

Varun Aggarwal Mumbai | Updated on December 10, 2019

The extrapolated BARC data may not paint a real picture when OTTs can provide the exact number of viewers to advertisers

The television rating system is flawed in a digital era and may not be relevant anymore, Star India Chairman said.

"Legacy TV measurement system is not doing justice. There's an issue with credibility, there's lack of data, which is widely extrapolated, mutilated...", Uday Shankar, President of The Walt Disney Company APAC and Chairman of Star and Disney India, said while talking about the importance of viewership data for digital media platforms such as Hotstar.

According to Shankar, data from TV rating agency BARC was relevant only at a time when technology did not exist to offer true viewership numbers, but not anymore.

BARC data

"BARC was created for a different day and time. TV ratings are currently relevant only for advertisers and if they can get full viewership numbers from us, why should they look at viewership numbers based on sample data," Shankar said.

BARC, which was created as an industry body with Star TV as one of the founding members, gives out weekly viewership data of each channel and that data is heavily used by advertisers to decide where to put their ads and how much a TV platform is worth paying for.

However, increasingly industry people are raising voice against BARC data for its accuracy, especially after TRAI's tariff ruling, which saw a sharp decline in viewership numbers.

BARC viewership numbers are based on tracking devices installed in thousands of homes across the country and are then extrapolated to get the overall figure. Many, including Shankar, feel the extrapolated data may not paint a real picture when OTTs can provide the exact number of viewers to advertisers.

Shankar said digital is the future for entertainment and separating digital, and TV is the biggest mistake the industry could make.

"Over the next 5-6 years, we'll have over a billion screens in India, of which only 250 million would be television while 750 million screens will be mobile. It will be a fatal error to see the two differently. We need to see them as overlapping media," Shankar said.

Shankar said Hotstar now has over 200 million monthly average users during non-cricketing months and over 300 million during peak cricketing events.

"If without cricket, over 200 million people are watching Hotstar compared to a TV reach of 700 million, that itself tells you that a shift is happening," Shankar said.

Published on December 10, 2019

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