Miracle in May: India TV breaks into top 2

In terms of the relative market share revealed by TAM (HSM CS 15yrs+), India TV recorded a stunning growth of more than 35 per cent in just a month

The master of 'Breaking & #BANNER1 & # News' is on a roll. With a reputation for constantly breaking news (it even has a primetime show by that name), the Rajat Sharma owned Hindi news channel, India TV, has bagged second place in its segment for the first time in Week 20 of 2007.

In terms of relative market share revealed by TAM (HSM CS 15yrs+), India TV recorded a stunning growth of more than 35 per cent in just a month.

In Week 16, India TV had a relative market share of around 13 per cent, placing it in fourth position among all Hindi news channels. But in four weeks' time, the channel showed unparalleled growth and claimed the number two slot, leaping past Star News and Zee News. In Week 20, India TV recorded a relative share of 18 per cent as compared with Star News' 17 per cent and Zee News' 13 per cent. Aaj Tak is still the unconquered leader of the segment, with a market share of 23 per cent (TAM Week 20 HSM CS15+ relative share - Hindi news channels).

Rajat Sharma
What has lead to the sudden jump in the ratings of the channel, which had seemed more or less rooted at number four or five for the past 24 months?

"This is due to both content and distribution. The evidence of the strength of our content lies in our time spent per viewer, which is by far the highest of all news channels, and which is obviously because the content keeps viewers," says Chintamani Rao, CEO, India TV.

Media planners agree with Rao and attribute the channel's success to its programming.

Chintamani Rao
"Sensationalising helps, and India TV is the master in that. 'Breaking News', which is hosted by Rajat Sharma, is very well received in all quarters. Over a period of time, India TV has built the reputation of a 'sting channel', which runs controversial stories and thus attracts wide viewership," says Anita Nayyar, CEO, MPG, India.

Since its inception two years ago, India TV has carried out various sting operations on celebrities and politicians, exposing the grey side of the worlds of glamour and politics. Its last sting operation exposed a sex racket in the posh Rajdhani Express and led to much controversy.

Mona Jain, executive V-P, Zenith Optimedia, has this to say: "Content plays a very important role in any channel's success. I attribute India TV's recent success to its strategy of making the channel more viewer-oriented." The channel has several shows that ask viewers to call in and express their views. For instance, the channel's late night show has a panel of experts discussing all kinds of social problems, including controversial topics like sex and drugs. "Surely, such programmes play an important role in pushing up the ratings," says Jain. Rao agrees that a nightly programme called 'India Bole', which addresses controversial issues, has helped in making the channel popular among the middle class.

"The target audience for our late night programme, 'India Bole', is middle class adults, both men and women," he says. This show addresses intimate issues, which bother a very large number of people, but about which they are embarrassed to talk to others. "Two very important things happen: We bring them in dialogue with experts who answer their questions directly, and people are able to listen to and learn from other people's experiences and know that there are others too out there who face similar problems," he adds.

The next big question, of course, is whether India TV can retain its number two ranking?

"Yes, that will be interesting to see," muses Nayyar. According to her, Aaj Tak has been the true leader in the Hindi news space for some years now and the number two slot alternates between Star News and Zee News and, now, India TV from time to time. There has never been a clear number two. "India TV has to sustain its number two slot to prove its point. Otherwise, this will be a flash in the pan," she concludes.

2007 agencyfaqs!