Television Rating Points (TRP) – Does it reflect the actual mood of the Population?

Published in Marketing & Strategy Articles category by MBA Skool Team , Published on March 16, 2011

Television Rating Points is one of the most widely used criterion by the advertisers to gauge the popularity of a channel or a programme. With the launch of several news channel and general entertainment channels, the television viewership market became highly cluttered. Targeting audiences became extremely difficult as most of the programs on these channels were targeting the same set of audience. This led to the emergence of television rating points which helped to determine the viewership habits of the audiences as well as to capture the various other demographics of the population.


Television Rating Points

So that brings us to a question on how is TRP actually measured?

Currently the only electronic rating agency operating in our country is INTAM (Indian Television Audience Management). The two methodologies it adopts for determining TRP’s are

1. Frequency Monitoring: In this method, meters are installed in the homes which are considered as the sample of the total population. These meters keep track of programmes/ channel being surfed by the particular household. It reads the frequencies of channels, which are later, decoded into the name of the channels and the agency prepares a national data on the basis of its sample homes readings. But there is a drawback in the technique, as cable operators frequently change the frequencies of the different channels before sending signals to the homes

2. Picture Matching: It is a relatively new concept to India and in this technique the meters tracks data of the picture that being watched in the household. Along with this agency also records all the channels' data in the form of small picture portion. Data collected from the sample homes is later on matched with the main data bank to interpret the channel name

Though this method has been accepted is the TRP system foolproof. The answer is NO. The major reason why it can’t be considered foolproof is due to the selection of the sample. The ratings derived are measured based on the data collected from top sixteen cities of nine states in India. This sample further does not take into consideration the people from lower middle class and also people from smaller towns. Further they have not even considered the elite class on the assumption that these people would prefer to watch high end English channels as compared to the local channels.

The most crucial part of TRP business is the sample size of the research. Presently, TRP is based upon only a small urban sample of 5500 homes spread all over India. Most of the sample homes are situated in urban areas. Critics doubt as to how this small sample could truly represent the taste of Indian. That's why Doordarshan has its own ratings system DART (Doordarshan Audience Ratings). DART is a diary based system of ratings. DD people distribute diaries in sample homes and the viewers are asked to note down each programme as and when watched by family members. In the end of the week a person collects all the diaries and sends them to the head office, where popularity of programmes is calculated.

So that brings us to a conclusion that TRP’s just provide a glimpse of a small sample and not the actual mood of the population. Certain sections of the society have not been represented in this rating and hence it does not give the correct reflection of the viewing habits. So there is a need to have a rating based on the viewing habits of elite, middle and lower class spread across all the cities of our country for this rating to be meaningful for the channels and advertisers. But it also true that true viewership habits can never be estimated as it is not possible to reach every single home in this country. So this method does provide a hazy picture which nevertheless has been appreciated by the industry. Advertisers, channels, producers would get a somewhat skewed picture of their standing in the fiercely competitive television market.


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