India has a new TV ratings system, BARC India, a joint initiative between the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA), Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) and the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI). BARC covers a sample size of 12,000 households, with plans to reach 20,000 in the near future.
This is a significant jump compared to the 9,600 homes monitored by TAM (Television Audience Measurement), the 16-year-old system that is an equal joint venture between advertising major WPP'sKantar Media Research and Nielsen. In the U.S., Nielsen's National People Meter service has a current sample size of 12,500 homes.
BARC released its first findings on Wednesday to its subscriber base of TV companies and advertising agencies.
In the dominant Hindi general entertainment channel rankings, 21st Century Fox's Star India flagship Hindi entertainment channel StarPlus leads the pack. Viacom18's Colors channel comes in second, followed by Star's LifeOK channel with India's Zee TV at fourth place.
English-entertainment rankings for movie channels show Movies Now (owned by the Times of India newspaper group) leading with a 31 percent market share followed by Star India's Star Movies (17 percent) and HBO (13 percent).
English-entertainment channels are topped by Romedy NOW (also owned by the TOI group) with a 50 percent share, followed by Comedy Central (26 percent) and Zee TV's Zee Cafe (10 percent).
BARC was originally established in 2007 following intense industry debate -; just like in the U.S. -; about an overhaul of the ratings system. In recent years, the Indian broadcasting and advertising industries hotly debated the effectiveness of TAM in a diverse multi-lingual market like India with 168 million households and 300-plus channels. This led the Indian government to issue a new set of guidelines in Jan. 2014. These ranged from revised equity holding patterns to an expanded sample base of TV homes.
The guidelines stated that the panel size of homes had to be increased to 20,000 within six months, increasing by 10,000 annually to eventually touch 50,000 homes.
However, industry observers have pointed out that BARC and TAM cannot be compared -; the former offers data based on households while the latter releases data based on individual viewership. The Hindi channel rankings by both systems have come up with the same top two channels: StarPlus followed by Colors.
As announced last year, BARC employs technology solutions from European companies Civolution and Mediametrie to gauge viewership habits. Some of the newer services offered by BARC include the overnight SpotTrek which tracks commercials and movie trailers telecast on all channels.
The NCCS system tracks viewers based on the "affluence parameters of a household" to enable smarter decision-making, both for content planners and advertisers.
"I am thrilled to share the first set of data and highlights," said BARC India CEO ParthoDasgupta. "Team BARC India is proud to be creating history as the world's largest and future-ready television audience measurement service. Thanks to IBF, AAAI, ISA and all our partners for coming together and making this happen."
According to a recent industry report by consultants KPMG India, India's television grew to $7.9 billion in 2014 compared to $6.95 billion in 2013. The industry is projected to touch $16.25 billion by 2019, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 15.5 percent.