Industry POV

Implications of BARC's rural-urban data split: An analysis

30 May, 2016

So far, BARC has released two batches of segregated data for rural and urban regions for Hindi GECs.

India is a heterogenous country where every 100 kilometres reveal a totally different scenario. Despite its heterogenous nature there are two broad classifications that the country has: 'Bharat' and 'India'. While Bharat signifies the rural part of the country, where people's aspiration is to live an 'Indian' life, at the other end, 'India' is a dot com-equipped one. From the media and entertainment perspective, 'Bharat' (rural) is the one which hardly encountered with the pay TV phenomenon, and hence, missed the 'Kahaniis', 'Uttarans', and epics like 'Jodha Akbar'.
The Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India, the television ratings auditor body, after its rural rollout, was bombarded with questions on how are rural and urban FTA and PayTV measured and listed on the same list after BARC's rural roll out channels like Zee Anmol, Sony Pal, and Star Utsav, which have no investment on content, getting placed over Colors and Star Plus.

BARC India has 22,000 bar-o-meters in India. Seventy per cent of those are placed in urban India, while the remaining 30 per cent are installed in rural India. Says an insider at BARC India, "Given the homogenous nature of TV viewing patterns in rural India, 30 per cent representation is no worse than 50 per cent."

While all the big broadcasters had their FTA presence, seeing their pay channels drop was an agonising sight for them, and gradually, they started voicing it. The loudest of all was Colors CEO Raj Nayak, who has been unabashedly vocal about it. Week 18 must have pleased him; that's when BARC India dished out its first batch of separate ratings for urban and rural.

BARC India, clarifies, however, "It must be noted that these separate rankings for urban and rural viewership of the top Hindi general entertainment channels/programmes were only reported in the data that BARC India puts out for the public at large - on its website, social media platforms, etc. BARC India users (subscribers) have always had the option of looking at these data cuts within the BMW software, and this was not the first time broadcasters and agencies saw this data split."

Ashish Bhasin, chairman and CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network South Asia
The rural data is what is important, the segregation is just another tool for agencies. Media planners will plan seeing both the data, the split just becomes an add-on. We need to understand it is not like stock exchange, how we make it look, the rates never change every week.