TRP is a pretty indulgent barometer if you’re from a media background. TRP is a metric that plays a paramount role in driving the Indian Television advertising market which is estimated to be approximately Rs 63,000 crore (US$ 10 billion).
It’s what Indian advertisers use to determine when and where to place commercials and what TV channels are to be used to make their penny’s worth. But what exactly is a TRP and why is it so important?
To the uninitiated, TRP stands for Television Rating Point. Very simply put, it is an equation media planners, and buyers use to determine which programs are viewed the most across Television channels.
It is reviewed on a weekly basis by BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) India - an industry body to design, commission, supervise and own an accurate, reliable and timely television audience measurement system for India.
In a clustered market like ours, targeting audiences becomes a task because in the Indian market there are numerous channels with a variety of programs catering round the clock to a vast and scattered set of audiences.
Television rating points provide information about the viewers’ TV watching habits and the socio-economic background of the public. This gives a sense of insights to advertisers and corporate media planners in selecting the right media at the right time suitable for their respective brand/service.
More often than not Television is ruled by TRPs, not stories. Story developers, scriptwriters, directors and other people working behind the screen will agree. Indian GECs (General Entertainment Channels) rely heavily on this yardstick to measure the success of the episode day-on-day and tweak content basis ratings.
Not all episodes are pre-written - some episodes are written on a daily basis and evolved depending on the previous day ratings.Sometimes the audiences start liking particular characters or a situation, in such a case, producers often shift focus to these characters or situations and in the process lose track of the original story.
In the case of reality shows, attempts are pumped into driving TRP led stunts and gimmicks. It’s not a very different story with news channels; they are equally dependant on TRP ratings. The rise of sensationalism, conflicts, controversies and entertainment in news channels is also arguably based on TRP ratings.
It’s not even uncommon to find a similar dance, talent or music show across competing channels vying to garner ratings.In summary, these ratings guide content makers on storylines, program strategies, and even editorial decisions, in a way becoming a vicious trap for Indian Television broadcasters.
TRPs are used to judge, they are calculated based on meters that are pre-installed in certain households that serve as representative samples. This device is called as the People’s Meter. Basis this meter reading, TRPs are calculated and derived - when the households (spread across different geographical and demographic sectors) watch Television, what they watch on it and how long they watch it.
It records the exact time of the program that a viewer watches on a specific day. The average is then taken for a 30 day period which gives the viewership status for a particular channel.
It’s a direct correlation - a high number of views translates into high TRPs, which in turn translates into a bigger share of the advertising pie, which is the eventually the end game. Hence, greater the number of eyeballs that watch a show, more significant the number of advertisers who want to showcase their wares during the series, more money the channel earns from that show.
It is a magic number and top currency that measures advertising impact (ROI). All attempts are made to capture the common man’s attention. The common man, however, is oblivious to this calculation.
But as they say, all's fair in love and TRPs. What’s your take on this matter? Has content aesthetics been reduced to absolute numbers along the way? Do you think there should be any other metric to gauge and maintain the sanctity of the content?
Do share your thoughts and ideas with us in the comments section below.