Arnab Reacts to Quint Report, Claims Times Now Manipulating TRPs

After losing top spot in big cities, Goswami alleges that Times Now’s increasing viewership is “forced, inorganic”.

3 min read
Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV and Rahul Shivshankar-led Times Now are in a tussle to be the most watched English news channel.

On Thursday evening, The Quint reported that Times Now had caught up with Republic TV in the race to be the most watched English news channel, even beating Arnab Goswami’s channel significantly in big cities. It is a feat that Rahul Shivshankar-led Times Now has been able to achieve for the first time since Goswami launched Republic TV.

Goswami has now responded to The Quints report and alleged that Times Now is chasing down Republic’s lead using methods which are manipulating the system.


Arnab’s Allegations

According to Goswami, Times Now’s increased viewership is due to the “forced reach” method employed by the channel. He claims Times Now is tying up with cable networks to be the “landing page” on the network.

The “landing page” refers to the channel that appears the moment you switch on the television.

In a statement to The Quint, Goswami elaborated,

Times Now’s landing across networks in Megacities and the impact thereof is forced reach as the BARC meters at 7 seconds of view and this is resulting in the reach. This reach is not organic.

Goswami further claimed that, in the past, Times Now had seen a massive boost in viewership by employing the same method during the day of the UP election results by being the landing page on Hathway, one of the larger cable TV networks in the country.

So here’s the crux of Goswami’s argument – he claims that around two-third of Times Now’s ratings are coming from Chennai and Kolkata, markets in which Times Now has allegedly tied up with local cable networks so as to be made the “landing page”. Consequently, he believes that the data from these markets is inflating Times Now’s viewership numbers and getting them ever closer to the top spot.

To further his argument that Republic remains more popular than Times Now, Goswami claims that the average time spent by viewers on his channel is far higher than that on Times Now.

He claims that the “landing page” phenomenon may be behind Times Now’s average time consistently decreasing over the last couple of months to come to under 4 minutes as per the latest ratings.

Times Now’s average time has dropped by 50%. It could be due to the fact that viewers tune out rapidly from landing channels as it is not landing on the programme they may have naturally tuned in for.
Republic TV’s response
Given that “landing page” slots on cable networks don’t come cheap, Goswami is essentially accusing his former workplace Times Now of flexing its financial muscle to tweak the market and beat Republic TV.

The Latest Ratings

The following graph shows the viewership data as per BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council India) for the week from 10 June to 16 June 2017.

Republic’s overall market share, as per the latest ratings, stands at 34.8% with Times Now close on its heels at 33.8%.
In megacities, Times Now’s market share is 44.5%, with Republic TV more than twelve percentage points behind at 31.9%.

Click here for the full ratings.

BARC: Acting on Fraud Attempts

Less than a week ago, BARC said it had detected “ratings fraud attempts” in the Tamil Nadu, Chennai and Karnataka markets.

In an email sent to subscribers, the agency had stated:

Any individual or group of households suspected of being compromised are immediately removed from reporting in the BARC weekly published ratings release.

In April, BARC had constituted a six-member committee headed by former judge Mukul Mudgal to investigate complaints regarding viewership malpractices and tampering of its measurement system.

So who really is at number one?
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