Introduction of overnight TV ratings in India

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The way TV audience figures are measured in India is changing with new body aMap providing broadcasters with overnight show ratings.

TAM Media Research has been to date the sole provider of an audience measurement system that had industry consensus.

For media buyers, there�۪s news. Audience Measurement and Analytics Limited (AMAL) is readying for a national launch of aMap ��� a system of audience measurement that claims to offer larger coverage and provide overnight measurement of TV programmes.

“Indian ratings industry had been in the stone age…and the existing one (measurement system) has been junked in developed television markets…a decade ago in favour of overnight ratings which are the norm the world over,” says Ravi Dixit, Director, AMAL Research and Knowledge Management. “Broadcasters like NDTV, TV Today Network, Sahara Group, CNBC TV 18 and ZEE Telefilms have all expressed a desire to co-operate with our future-ready organisation by signing up and subscribing to our services,” he adds.

aMap now claims to have achieved its first landmark: “providing actionable, multi-dimensional, all-India data across 29 reporting units on a panel of 6,000 metered homes. This makes us the largest panel in the world and the first overnight panel in Asia. We have a well thought-out promotional strategy for the existing and potential users which will get executed shortly,” assures Dixit.

What about the competition (TAM) and being the second opinion for the industry? Dixit says: “I don�۪t think we have any competition in the domain that we operate, as it would be comparing snail mail with email. Overnight ratings by its very definition are the first opinion and anything that comes after, is second opinion by default.”

“TAM has India�۪s first digital/platform neutral peoplemeter called the TVM5, currently deployed across DTH-enabled homes. For TAM, TV viewership data comes as default. Our forte is in scientific interpretation of the data in the form of insights. Even with the existing sample size of 4,800 peoplemeters, the panel represents the largest numbers of individuals in the world. After expansion to 10,300 peoplemeters, this will size will go up even further,” counters Siddharth Mukherjee, Director, Communications, TAM Media research.

But what does the industry have today? NDTV, for instance, has opted for both TAM as well as aMap. Raj Nayak, Chief executive, NDTV Media, says: “My job is not to sit and judge which system is better. All I know is the sample size is too small. All we know is that, in the markets aMap is present it has similar number of meters as TAM, yet the numbers are hugely different. While TAM data comes once in a week, aMap gives you overnight ratings.

Also the data is not collected manually and instead the central server dials the home meter and downloads the data via GSM technology, making it the safest data logically. Amap also gives you data by occupation ��_say what students are,or housewives are watching.”

“I think, aMap is poised well to redefine measurement system as we have come a long way from the time the first audience measurement system consensus was made. However, it cannot claim a difference merely on the ground that it has the largest coverage or gives overnight ratings,” notes Premjeet Sodhi, sn VP, Initiative Media.

Kartik Sharma, director, Madison Media Research Centre, concurs: “There is no way where we can validate if one is better technology than the other. Of course, there will be different results with different methodology. But we need a debate and actual consensus on what�۪s better. After all, serious money is involved and it has to be one of the two systems.”

In the UK, majority of TV network subscribe to BARB for audience figures, which are issued on a daily basis. UK Asian TV broadcasters do not subscribe to such services, depending more on subscriber numbers.

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