Noida-based online TV guide and social and community platform, iDubba, has launched iTRPs, offering its own television ratings platform based on the number of iDubba users watching and registering(or tune-ins) what they’re watching.

The ratings will be offered real time on iDubba’s iTRP page and will be calculated on a daily as well as weekly basis. Note that users can register the show they’re watching through iDubba’s website, Android and iPhone apps, as well as via SMS. The company claims that it’s getting 20,000 unique tune-ins everyday, which is more than TAM’s sample size.

While the company aims to disrupt the allegedly flawed existing TV ratings system that uses people meters to collect data related to viewing patterns from select house-holds, it would have to ensure the reliability of data provided by it. iDubba says that enough rules have been put in place at its back-end to make the entire process legitimate, and that the system will make more sense as the number of users increase.

How does it work: Users of iDubba’s Android or iPhone apps simply need to sign up, search for the channel name and tune-in to the current program using the app’s controls. Users can also send an SMS in the format ‘idubba <channel name>’ to the number 9220092200 and tune in to register their iTRP. Similarly , users can also tune-in via the iDubba website.

Interestingly, the launch comes at a time when TAM announced that it will not release ratings from 7th October to 19th December 2012, owing to the switch over to digital television broadcast in the four metro cities – Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai. So it would be interesting to see if media buyers and tv channels start using data offered by iDubba to substitute conventional TAM ratings.

    

The app: We tried using the app on an Android phone and found that it also offers real time ratings for shows when a user tune-ins, however, we were not able to see ratings for the show we tried tuning-into at the time of writing this post. Also, we found that the app does not offer reward points if a user tunes-in to a different show within 10 minutes of a tune-in. We’re not sure if these users are also excluded from real time ratings. The app also offers an option to share the tune-in on Facebook and Twitter, and even allows users to start a chat session.

The need for digititizing tv ratings: Following NDTV’s allegations and a lawsuit against Nielsen, related to rigging of viewership data, several questions have been raised on the entire exercise of collating tv ratings data. In one of our previous posts, Nikhil had stressed on the need for realtime monitoring of television and digitization of the entire process, since mobile Internet connectivity and data cards were easy to deploy, specially in Metro cities. He had suggested that a bigger base could be connected via apps and mobile web, and data could be randomised.

He had also mentioned that realtime data on what people are watching at that very minute, or a list of the most popular shows in a particular part of the country or for an SEC category would be really interesting. It would also allow media planners to gauge viewing patterns during events like cricket matches. It could also integrate social networks and offer realtime analytical info on viewer behavious vis-a-vis trending issues. Nikhil had cited the example of a One Day International where people switch the TV off after Sachin Tendulkar gets out, but log back in after word gets around that the others are mounting a come-back. Additionally iDubba could also offer specific demographic data to planners since it collects information like the age and gender of the user. Also, since the service allows tracking ratings via mobile apps, it can allow advertising agencies and media planners the ability to look at data whereever they are, whenever they want, but we feel that the interface needs to be made more intuitive.

Related:
iDubba Raises Angel Round Of Funding
Our reports on the TAM situation:
– How To Disrupt TAM Ratings For TV
– What NDTV’s Whistleblower ‘The Consultant’ Said About Rigging TAM Ratings
– NDTV Files Lawsuit Against Nielsen For Manipulating TV Ratings