Be it the story on the sex scandal in a temple & #BANNER1 & # in Gujarat, or the Shakti Kapoor-Aman Verma-casting couch expose, or the latest scoop on the Govinda-underworld nexus, India TV has been successful in creating a separate identity for itself as a 'sensational' news channel.
Industry observers like Kajal Malik, regional director, Optimum Media Solutions, feel that in a scenario when every news channel has been trying to differentiate itself from the rest, and have a clear positioning, India TV has successfully done that.
These 'scoops' have even helped the channel garner a larger share of the viewership pie during the telecast of these stories.
As per TAM Media Research data, (C&S, 15 +, Hindi speaking markets), in week 12 of 2005, when the news channel aired the sting operations on Bollywood actors Shakti Kapoor and Aman Verma, its marketshare grew to 11.5 per cent from 6.7 per cent in the previous week.
Similarly, during the Govinda-episode, i.e. on October 19, its channel share went up to 14 percent from 8 per cent on the previous day. This viewership growth continued on the second day but unfortunately its share dropped to 9 per cent on the third day of the coverage.
This clearly indicates that while India TV has been successful in grabbing viewers' attention by doing sensational stories, it hasn't yet been successful in retaining this growth.
Agrees Hiren Pandit, general manager, MindShare, Mumbai. He says, "Indian TV has been successful in garnering high TVRs with its scandalous stories but its viewership figures fall flat soon after. In fact, the channel is slowly positioning itself as the 'Tehelka of television'."
Even Malik of OMS, says, "The high viewership delivered by these shows do prove that people like watching such kind of news. And the channel should keep on delivering such sensational news. But then it's not easy for a channel to deliver such stories every day."
Both these industry stalwarts advice that the channel should deliver a competitive and authoritative content in order to survive in the news genre, and maintain a steady viewership.
Malik of OMS, says, "There are other news channels that are planning their strategy to combat this sort of programming. Therefore, it is important for the channel to initiate equally interesting programmes for its survival in the long run."
But then do such sudden high television ratings (TVRs) influence the advertisers? Debraj Tripathi, general manager, Maxus Delhi, says, "There are many advertisers, who do not like to be associated with such negative stories, even if it gives high TVRs. And overall, advertisers are mainly interested in channels that deliver a steady viewership."
However, Tripathi also suggests that if the channel is ready to share such stories with the advertisers in advance, a few of the advertisers may like to buy slots during those programmes. "But then, I am not sure whether the channels are ready to divulge such editorial details with the advertisers."
However there are media planners such as Shashi Sinha, president, Lodestar Media, who are quite optimistic about the channel's current strategy.
He explains, "Today every channel wants to increase its share in the viewership and advertising pie. And breaking such sensational news is a way of achieving that. There is nothing wrong in India TV adopting such a route and it is successful in positioning itself very noticeably."
Sinha adds, "India is a vast country and there is no dearth of sensational news. Creating news of such category should not be a difficult proposition for the channel. Therefore, as of now, the channel should keep on delivering such news as this strategy seems to have been working for it."
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