Broadcast Audience Research Council of India (BARC India), the television rating company formed by broadcasters, advertising agencies and advertisers, on Wednesday appointed Nielsen as the agency to conduct Universe Estimation study on television ownership and viewing habits.

The study will address questions such as number of televisions per household, viewers and viewing habits. As BARC expands its footprint across smaller markets, the study will also gather data on television owning households in small towns and rural India. The Universe Estimation study will measure content consumption across linear television and digital media such as smartphones, tablets and personal computers.

Nielsen, according to a statement issued by BARC India, was chosen after a rigorous pitch process for its understanding of the environment and use of technology.

As part of the study, Nielsen will cover 300,000 households and the first round of findings will be released by BARC in early 2016. This is by far the largest such study, BARC claimed. The study will be conducted using tools and methods like Computer Aided Personal Interviews, GPS technology and phone number validation via OTPs.

Partho Dasgupta, chief executive officer, BARC India said, “As we introduce a new system of television ratings in the country, we are also cognisant of the need to understand the changing television audience across the country. This pioneering study will help address many questions faced by the industry today, and be a ready reckoner for marketers and advertisers..."

Prashant Singh, managing director, Nielsen India, said that the research and information firm was excited to be chosen by BARC. Its infrastructure, quality processes and technology in data capturing will ensure that the study gets completed in record time, he added.

Last month, BARC declared a truce with TAM Media Research Pvt Ltd, which is 50% owned by Nielsen, and announced the formation of a new meter management company that will manage panel operations and related IT (information technology) infrastructure. This company will supply the raw data from the 34,000 meters at its disposal. BARC will hold a 51% stake and TAM 49% in the new entity.

BARC India is a joint industry body set up in India in 2012 with the specific purpose of designing, commissioning, supervising and owning India’s Television Audience Measurement System.