MUMBAI: After a difficult gestation period India's Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) has finally released its first set of TV measurement data, which the body claimed would "usher in a whole new era of intelligence and analytics".

"With an aim to bring in utmost transparency within the ecosystem, BARC India will certainly be the best solution to report what the nation is actually watching," said Punit Goenka, chairman BARC India.

What they are watching is not so very different from that shown by the previous measurement system, according to the Week 16 figures BARC has published. Star Plus remains the leading Hindi entertainment channel, although its associated channel Life OK has overtaken Zee. And Sony Max, as expected, was in a strong position thanks to its IPL coverage.

"We must not compare the two measurement systems and start judging trends," said Sanjay Gupta, COO Star India. "To me the big news for the industry is that we have a new, robust system of measurement which is capturing the urban viewership landscape meaningfully."

A significant difference from the earlier system is the adoption of the New Consumer Classification System (NCCS), which classifies households based on two variables – the education of the chief wage earner and the ownership of various consumer durables.

This will "enable smarter decision-making processes", according to BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta.

"When you read BARC data you have to understand that it represents present day India in all its realities," he explained. "For example, as per the data we have, 46% of TV-owning households are in NCCS A and B. This is borne out by the consumerism and aspirations we see in India today."

The new system also reflects changing population patterns: "In the TV household universe in our system, Kerala has seven 1 million plus towns versus only one in the erstwhile system based on 2001 census," said Dasgupta.

For now, the system is focused on urban India but within a few months BARC will be adding rural data and that could change the overall picture more dramatically. "The new system might throw up differences that may make people change their strategies in the long term," observed Ashish Bhasin, chairman and CEO, South Asia at Dentsu Aegis Network.

Data sourced from PR Newswire, Economic Times, Live Mint; additional content by Warc staff