In a few hours, we’ll have millions of Indians discussing the TRPs of the Aamir Khan show, Satyamev Jayate. People from all walks of life will talk with great authority on how the show is doing.
Even the chairman of the Press Council of India (which has nothing to do with television) loves using the three-letter acronym. “Their (members of the Broadcast Editors Association) pay packages (sometimes going up to two or three crores per year) are often linked with the TRP rating. Their owners have given one simple instruction to them — keep the TRP rating high,” Justice Katju famously said.
And we come across this phrase more and more often, especially in the context of the IPL and Satyamev Jayate.
“Aamir Khan’s television debut show, Satyamev Jayate, has recorded an overall rating of 4.27 TVR (including terrestrial of DD) in the six metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad,” reported Indiantelevision.com.
What does this mean? For a moment, forget about whether the show is doing well or doing badly, what does this number 4.27 TVR mean in absolute terms?
One TRP (television ratings point) or TVR represents 1 percent of the viewers in the defined city in a given minute. When we hear that Satyamev Jayate notched up 4.27 TRPs, it means 4.27 percent of the viewers in these 6 metros watched the show. Ratings are measured by each minute, and the final rating for the program is the AVERAGE across the duration of the entire show.
TRPs are measured by demographic and by geography. So If one measures TRPs for, say, SEC A females, 18-34 for Mumbai and arrives at 3.0 TRPs, it means 3 percent of all the women who COULD have watched TV in the 18-34 age group and from SEC A did watch the show.
Importantly, the TRP of 4.27 refers to the percentage which viewed the show when compared to the entire universe that can watch the show. If, for example, there are 100 households in Mumbai of which 40 households did not watch TV at that time, the TRP would remain constant, but the SHARE would go up. Shares would, logically, be significantly higher than ratings at times when overall TV viewing is low, for example, late in the night. A programme may get low TRPs, but very high shares.
Interpreted this way, 4.27 is a GOOD number; the share will be significantly higher.
One also needs to take into account the expectation of the channel and the advertiser before jumping in and declaring that a program is doing well or badly. In the instances of both the IPL and SJ, one understands that both the channels and the advertisers had expectations in line with the audience delivery. “Several Madison clients are on the show. This is not an entertaining show but an infotainment show and, therefore, its TRP ratings across 13 episodes could be limited. The show’s initial episodes should have high ratings but may be difficult to sustain. The show should have high impact and talkability and clients who are on the show are aware of it,” Sam Balsara, chairman and managing director, Madison World, had told Firstpost before the first episode was aired.
The comparisons made between SJ and old, successful soaps such as Ramayan and Mahabharat are also bandied about. Ramayan and Mahabharat were aired when vewers in India could receive just a single national channel, so the TRPs were obviously very high and share would have been 100 percent! In today’s context, both advertisers and channel executives would be happy with any programme that delivers steady ratings of 3 TRPs (subject, of course, to their investments).
Hopefully, this primer will allow all Firstpost readers understand the implications of the ‘number’ of TRPs you read about. That includes Justice Katju, too.