TRP controversy again

By , agencyfaqs! | In | January 25, 2002
The decision by Zee and Sony to end the current "assured cost per rating point" system has once again called the TRP system into question


The decision by Zee Telefilms Ltd (ZTL) and Sony Entertainment Television (SET) to end the current "assured cost per rating point" system has once again called the TRP (Television Rating Points) system, which is the sole arbiter of the Rs 3,500-crore Indian television advertising market, into question.

ZTL, the second largest, and SET, the third largest broadcasting networks, called off the "cost per rating per deal"(CPRPD) that decided advertising rates on the basis of guarantees that a certain number of people would watch a particular programme, and ensured that air time rates were pegged according to those guarantees.

While ZTL and SET aver that several of their programmes are quite popular but are not reflected in the TAM-INTAM ratings, media planners are impressed only if television programmes make it to that hallowed list. Currently, both Zee and Sony hardly find their way to the ratings data. For example, according to both ORG-Marg's INTAM ratings for all C&S homes for the period January 7 to January 13, and AC Nielsen's TAM ratings for the period January 6 to January 12, STAR Plus has all of the Top 10 shows.

Again, going by ORG-Marg INTAM, for the week December 24 to December 30, 2001, among audiences in the four-plus age group (all-India TV homes), STAR Plus has 28 of the Top 100 shows. Sony has eight, and Zee five. As these are the figures that media planners go by, STAR is seen as way ahead of its rivals.

The current crisis, say sources, traces its roots to early optimism that the new programmes of Zee and Sony would do well. Based on this, both channels sold ad time on the basis of Gross Rating Points (GRPs), in effect, the sum of TRPs. For example, a media buying agency willing to shell out Rs 10 lakh could either choose to purchase ad time on certain programmes, or on the other hand, opt for say, 100 GRP points (based on the agreed CPRPD commitment). Sony and Zee promised that if the subsequent TRPs for a TV programme indicated a shortfall, then the advertiser was entitled to additional "make good" ad time, free of cost, on the respective channels.

However, as the programmes have not done well according to the ratings, the backlog piled up. According to sources, SET, in particular, was badly affected. To take one example, in a deal made with a leading consumer electronics company, the channel ended up owing thousands of ad seconds. As one senior industry analyst says, "Instead of going forwards, they ended up going backwards, and getting caught in a vicious circle." SET could not deliver on its commitments, as Sony's programmes did not do well.

Going by recent data, the only time that Sony made it into the Top 10 was on New Year's Eve, when the Hindi blockbuster movie Kaho Naa Pyar Hai, telecast from 8:00 pm -12:10 am, had an all-India TVR rating of 5.21, an all-India channel share of 17.53. This figure was arrived at by INTAM, with a base of all C&S TV households in 29 cities across the country.

One reason why the basic AC Nielsen TAM (or for that matter ORG-Marg's INTAM) data can be interpreted in various ways, say analysts, is because of its wide-ranging nature. For example, B4U has the highest ratings in the Hindi-film loving north, where it leads. On the other hand, if the south is added, then B4U's ratings fall, not because of the quality of its programmes but because it has less of a presence in Bangalore and Chennai. Data can also shift according to viewer patterns. For example, going by one-minute viewership, ETC outranks MTV, which most media planners accept as the No 1 music channel.

Yet, say planners, at present TRP is the only currency that is widely accepted. Other criteria, such as brand equity, programme popularity, channel research into the popularity of a certain programme, remain subjective.

So, for the media planner at least, the channels have to make it to the hallowed lists. Or opt out of the punishing race for advertisement revenue.
© 2002 agencyfaqs!

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© 2002 agencyfaqs!