European Firms to Supply Technology for India's TV Ratings Overhaul

Civolution and Mediametrie will provide tech solutions for the system used to monitor India's broadcast industry, which is valued at about $7 billion.

NEW DELHI – The upcoming launch of a new TV ratings system in India will employ technology solutions from European companies Civolution and Médiamétrie to gauge viewership habits in the country's estimated 150 million TV homes.

The value of India's broadcasting industry is estimated at about $7 billion (420 billion rupees).    

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The only other existing TV ratings system here has been the 15-year-old TAM (Television Audience Measurement), an equal joint venture between advertising major WPP's Kantar Media Research and Nielsen. But in recent years, the Indian broadcasting and advertising industries have been hotly debating the effectiveness of TAM in monitoring India's vast numbers of TV households. There have been demands for an overhaul, which led the government to approve a new set of guidelines. These range from revised equity holding patterns to an expanded sample base of TV homes. The guidelines -- issued in early January -- stated that the panel size of homes have to be increased to 20,000 (from the existing 9,600 under TAM) within six months, increasing by 10,000 annually to eventually touch 50,000 homes.

The guidelines also require no company to have paid-up equity in excess of 10 percent simultaneously in both a TV ratings agency and a broadcaster, advertiser or advertising agency. This led TAM's Kantar Media Research to file a case in the Delhi High Court challenging these norms. The next hearing is scheduled in early March.

India's Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) was founded in 2007 as a joint initiative by industry bodies Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA), Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) and the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI). BARC was set-up after “extensive review of best practices from around the world for the conduct and supervision of TV research and closely referring to guidelines as recommended by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) and European Association of Communications Agencies (EACA).”

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Civolution, based in the Netherlands, will provide its audio watermarking technology, while France's Médiamétrie will provide its TV meter system to BARC. This is considered to be the first fully digital audience measurement system employed directly by the Indian broadcast industry and is scheduled to commence operations towards the end of this year.

Civolution’s audio watermark is embedded in the TV’s sound track prior to broadcast. Upon airing, the content is then identified by Médiamétrie’s TV meter, in real-time. In addition to granular measurement of the content being watched, the solution features support for catch-up TV. The technology provides cross-platform audience measurement and will enable mobile device measurement, triggering the creation of new services  and the reduction of operating costs. In parallel, the same watermark infrastructure deployed by Indian broadcasters could be used to synchronize with great accuracy their own interactive second screen applications.

The solution provides broadcasters with a detailed analysis of their exposure to the public, whether by the number of households tuning in to the program, or the amount of time spent watching each piece of content.

“By leveraging Civolution and Médiamétrie’s expertise in audience tracking, technology and analytics we can now study viewers’ TV habits in precise detail, enabling broadcasters and advertisers to implement efficient strategies to reach their target audience,” said BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta.

“Audience measurement services must now report more accurately and reliably, from a larger number of channels, delivered through a fast-changing and diverse mix of broadcast platforms, and consumed either in real time or time-shifted,” added Civolution CEO Alex Terpstra.

“We are very enthusiastic to embark on this project with Civolution and its watermarking technology, which is definitely the most powerful and error-free content detection technique available for TV audience measurement.  This means we are future-proofed in the fast-changing world of TV.  Médiamétrie has relied on Civolution’s technology for many years,” said Médiamétrie director of audiences measurement, Benoît Cassaigne.