NBP 2024: TRAI bats for multiple ratings agencies for TV, disclosure of viewership data by OTT

TRAI has made several recommendations for establishing transparent and credible Audience Measurement and rating system for television, radio and OTT broadcasting service, in the National Broadcasting Policy 2024.

By  Storyboard18Jun 20, 2024 1:07 PM
NBP 2024: TRAI bats for multiple ratings agencies for TV, disclosure of viewership data by OTT
The Authority is of the view that a transparent, credible and technologically equipped audience measurement system holds immense importance for all stakeholders.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released recommendations on the formulation of National Broadcasting Policy - 2024, in a paper dated June 20, 2024. The NBP 2024 aims at stipulating the vision, mission, goals and strategies that could set the tone for a planned development and growth of the broadcasting sector in the country in the era of new and emerging technologies.

The Authority is of the view that a transparent, credible and technologically equipped audience measurement system holds immense importance for all stakeholders. TRAI has made several recommendations for establishing transparent and credible Audience Measurement and rating system for television, radio and OTT broadcasting service.

Broadcasters benefit from an accurate measurement system that enables them to optimize their programming, the telecom authority reiterated in its recommendations. It added that, for advertisers, granular insights into viewer demographics and preferences allow advertisers to tailor their campaigns more precisely, ensuring higher engagement and improved return on investment (ROI).

Television rating agencies

The policy guidelines for Television rating agencies have the following provisions regarding panel size: ‘A minimum panel size of 20,000 to be implemented within 6 months of the guidelines coming into force. Thereafter, the panel size shall be increased by 10,000 every year until it reaches the figure of 50,000. The panel of homes has to remain representative of all television households in the country.’

TRAI in its Recommendations on ‘Review of Television Audience Measurement and Rating System in India’ dated 28th April 2020 recommended the following: ‘The rating agency should be mandated to increase the sample size from the existing 44,000 to 60,000 by the end of 2020, and 1,00,000 by the end of 2022 using the existing technology.’

However, the current scenario reveals that BARC India is operating with a panel size of only 55,000 households. A smaller panel size inherently limits the scope of data available for analysis. Conversely, a larger panel size not only improves the robustness of the system but also adds substantial weight and value to measurement ratings.

Therefore, the Authority is of the view that having a larger panel size has its own benefits for audience measurement. Expanding panel size and embracing advanced technologies is crucial for ensuring a more credible audience measurement.

Further, the entry of multiple agencies not only introduces competition but also has the potential to enhance the quality of service and reduce costs. Moreover, the competitive environment serves as a natural deterrent against any attempt of manipulation in ratings. With multiple agencies competing for accuracy and credibility, any attempt to manipulate ratings becomes more easily detectable. Also, countries like Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea have 2 agencies for audience measurement.

To facilitate the establishment of multiple audience measurement agencies, the government should play a proactive role. Offering subsidies and launching schemes could serve as incentives for the formation and sustenance of these agencies, encouraging them to invest in state-of-the-art technologies, proven research methodologies and transparent measurement processes. Government support is crucial in creating an ecosystem where diverse entities can thrive, fostering healthy competition and ultimately enhancing the accuracy and reliability of television audience measurement in India.

The Authority supports the adoption of Return Path Data (RPD) as a transformative tool in audience measurement. RPD involves the collection of viewership data directly from the devices consuming content. Sourced from set-top-boxes, smart TVs and other connected devices, RPD offers a direct insight into viewer interactions with content, providing a level of granularity that ensures a precise analysis of individual preferences and viewing habits. A key advantage of RPD is its ability to provide real-time insights into viewer behavior, empowering broadcasters and advertisers to promptly adjust their strategies in response to emerging trends, thereby ensuring the continued relevance of content and campaigns.

TRAI in its 2020 recommendations recommended the following:‘MIB should amend the DTH License and MSO registration so as to mandate STBs capable of transferring viewership data and adoption of RPD technology. This transfer of data can be done by establishing a return path/connection from STB to the remote servers of the Audience Measurement agency.’

Apart from television audience measurement, the Authority is of the opinion that there should be a comprehensive methodology for radio audience measurement in India.

Measurement in OTT space

OTT broadcasting service providers have also become significant players in the media landscape, offering diverse content to millions of viewers. However, their viewership data remains largely opaque. The Authority is of the view that a standardized framework should be established to ensure transparency by requiring OTT platforms to disclose relevant metrics such as active users, time spent per user, popular content and others. This transparency would benefit advertisers in making informed decisions. Access to viewership data allows one to understand consumption patterns, identify trends and assess the impact of content. With a disclosure framework, it would be helpful to address inconsistencies in viewership details and promote fair competition.

What are the recommendations?

To set up a transparent and credible audience measurement and rating system for television, radio and OTT broadcasting service, TRAI has made the following recommendations:

1) Establishing transparent, credible and technologically equipped television audience measurement system that accurately reflects viewer preferences and behaviour by: Revamping the existing audience measurement system in India, expanding the sample size to represent diverse landscape, encouraging multiple rating agencies to carry out audience measurement for ensuring healthy competition, adopting Return Path Data (RPD) and other latest technologies to enhance the accuracy of data.

2) Establishing a policy framework for conducting radio audience measurement in India.

3) Creating a framework for disclosure of viewership data by OTT broadcasting service providers in a transparent manner for the purpose of audience measurements.


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First Published on Jun 20, 2024 1:02 PM

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