Of late, social media has been abuzz with chatter regarding “popular” online shows facing their TV waterloo’s due to low TRP’s, e.g. Shaurya Aur Anokhi Ki Kahani, Ishq Pe Zor Nahi, and Ishq Mein Marjawan; etc.

Fans go ballistic on Twitter and Instagram about how limited BARC is ( Few meters deciding viewing preferences of 135 crore Indians). They also criticise the top-ranking shows as being regressive etc.  So, how valid is this complaint?

  Firstly there is no transparent, authentic third party audit of online ratings. Different sources sprout different numbers. We need an official agency to which all channels subscribe. Also, online numbers is a complex maths that gives both vanilla views and Twitter trend analytics.

 No broadcast channel has ever given out data about how many people tune into to early online watching, as only then can we analyse whether it is eating away TRP?

  BARC, or its predecessor TAM for all their flaws, are a recognised currency. Advertisers use its data to purchase time slots (Primary revenue for channels apart from subscription fees). And let’s face it, big brands are no fools who will bet money on a lame horse.

Channels have in-house records of online traction, so if certain shows get cancelled, rest assured there was no real traction.   There is no argument that BARC needs to address the naysayers who feel that some players “game” “the system. Also, they should fulfil their promise of providing digital data as well.

 Here I will put my neck out by questioning this elitist habit of labelling audiences as regressive. End users are free to watch what they want; they are paying for it. If your so-called progressive content is not getting enough takers, you cant scream foul. Also, it is a fallacy to say urbanites dont watch GEC content. We dont tom-tom about it being unfashionable.

  How come certain shows still win audiences despite the umpteenth number of rebirths and messy kitchen politics! I think the audience likes dukhiayari leads, and you guys want her to stand up and fight back.

 TV by nature appeals to the broadest category, like masala films. Also, the youth audience is not always home to watch their favourite shows at a fixed time like the housewives. Young professionals have ten other distractions; they surf channels a lot, and today, the meters record minute to minute viewing patterns.

 Breakthrough shows need to be judged by a different yardstick. If you go against the grain, you can’t expect a quick fix. (Kahan Hum Kahan Tum’.) The moment ratings falter, creative teams resort to old worn-out tricks, which further alienates the youth base, so a double whammy.

 Channels need to make stories finite, but yet again, who kills a milch cow? You give gallis to never-ending sagas ( Bhagyas and Yeh Rishta etc), yet watch them. Finally, putting youth shows like SAAKK on early evening slots (SAAK) is a non-starter for gen-next certainly will not be at home then. It would help if you aired youth shows on the super prime-time band and then judge. Channels need to address changing Indian aspirations, lest they lose out in the long run as most 20 -30 age brackets will shift to OTT. [Written By- Anil Merani]