Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India and TAM India have formed a new meter management company with the aim of providing more reliable data on TV viewing by India's 170 million households. The new entity will oversee the meter operation based on BARC’s sample design and the data will be computed through BARC’s software using 34,000 meters covering all of India.
TAM India is a 50:50 joint venture between Nielsen and Kantar. It was appointed the country’s TV ratings agency in 1998 by the Indian Broadcasting Foundation, the Indian Society of Advertisers and the Advertising Agencies Association of India. BARC was set up later in 2012 by the TV industry on the recommendations of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, to create a new TV audience measurement system in the country.
The announcement came amid concerns about TAM India’s future after it was replaced as the TV audience measurement company by BARC. According to IHS TV Intelligence, India has a total of 170 million TV households. Hence, with a panel size of 9,000 meters, TAM India’s measurement was seen as inadequate. The private TV ratings agency dominated the industry ever since its operation. However, broadcasters began to criticise its data in 2012, highlighted by the lawsuit filed by NDTV to challenge the credibility of its data and claim damages.
In addition, the ownership of TAM India also created a conflict of interest among the stakeholders. Kantar is owned by WPP, one of the largest advertising ageny groups in the world. This has sparked allegations that the data provided by the agency understated audiences, restricting them from raising advertising rates. In 2014, a court in India set guidelines that prevent any advertising agency owning more than 10% in TV ratings measurement companies.
In addressing these limitations, the stakeholders founded BARC in 2012 and recorded the first set of ratings in April 2015 with a sample size of 22,000 households. It became the sole registered TV ratings agency in India in July while TAM India’s application was still pending. Its board consists of executives from from the country's leading TV companies, agencies and advertisers in the country, including Star India, Zee Entertainment, Viacom 18, Group M and Procter & Gamble.
Since BARC’s takeover of TV audience measurement in India, the future of TAM India has been uncertain. Moving forward, TAM India is expected to divert its focus to non-TV and more niche ratings services including the existing AdEx (advertising monitor), S-Group (audience analytics) and TAM Sports (sports programme return measurement) divisions.
This is a significant development as the TV industry in India, with the panel almost quadrupling in size from TAM India’s 9,000 meters to 34,000. By leveraging BARC’s statistical processes and TAM India’s experience in TV ratings measurement, the data by the new meter company is expected to give more confidence for the broadcasters to continue investing in TV programming and help advertisers to target audiences more precisely.