India TV scores over Aaj Tak in last half of May

By Sangeeta Tanwar , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | June 12, 2008
The last two weeks of May saw the channel get the maximum GRPs, with Aaj Tak and STAR News coming second and third

In the crowded & #BANNER1 & #space of Hindi television news, Aaj Tak has been the numero uno for a very long time. But now, it seems to have been pushed down to No. 2 slot by India TV.

The GRP ratings and channel share provided by TAM for the two weeks, May 18-24 and May 25-31, show India TV to be in the lead. India TV's GRPs for the two weeks stood at 51 and 47, respectively; Aaj Tak's GRPs were 51 and 44, respectively.

India TV claimed a channel share of 19.52 per cent and 19.7 per cent, respectively, for the two weeks in the CS 15+ target group; Aaj Tak garnered a share of 19.71 per cent and 17.77 per cent, respectively. STAR News stands third with a channel share of 17.37 per cent for the first week and 16.13 per cent for the second week.

Rajat Sharma
Rajat Sharma, editor in chief, India TV, says he is delighted with the TAM ratings. Sharma says, "Being in tune with the people's interests as to what they want to watch is what makes the channel a success story. India TV is not a channel that caters to any specific community or group; it is a channel for everyone, a medium of accessing news and views for the masses."

Sharma also attributes the good results to having a wide network of reporters spread all over the country, a livewire newsroom and, above all, the credibility and trust that the channel commands with its viewers.

G Krishnan
G Krishnan, chief executive officer, TV Today gives his verdict on India TV taking away the No. 1 position from his channel Aaj Tak. He believes that at times some channel may get a temporary benefit but at the end of the day the discerning audiences eventually consume a channel they find credible.

He agrees that breaking news or any major development influence the ratings or image of a channel, "The news on any channel caters to the kind of demand for that content in terms of viewership. Maybe sometimes a few channels go too far."

Krishnan is of the view that news channels do command a loyal viewership. He reasons, "There is definitely loyalty in the case of breaking news when viewers will always tune into the news channel that they find credible and consistent. The news business has to have a long term time frame and should not be carried away with temporary blips."

Even industry experts voice that India TV's success at No.1 may be short lived.

Divya Radhakrishnan
Divya Radhakrishnan, senior vice-president, The Media Edge, links India TV's success to a particular set of news in circulation over a period of time. She explains, "The nature of news affects the TRPs of almost all news channels. For example, in the past two weeks, the biggest TV stories were the Aarushi Talwar and Neeraj Grover murder cases. Playing up on the sensational elements of both cases and other similar news, the channel has managed to surge ahead of the others."

At the same time, Radhakrishnan points out, "Channel loyalty is much weaker and less in the genre of news as compared to the general entertainment genre. Therefore, it is premature to predict whether the growth is a long term phenomenon or a temporary spurt."

Anita Nayyar
How do media planners react to the fluctuating fortunes of the news channels? Anita Nayyar, chief executive officer, MPG, India says, "News channels are a different ball game from general entertainment channels. One cannot sit back and say that a new programme or a hit movie will ensure more eyeballs. So, one looks for consistency in the performance of a news channel. On an average, at least 13 weeks' performance is needed before one recommends that advertisers change their advertising platform. Increased channel share, unless it is in a consistent pattern, will be considered an aberration. "

Sharma counters the claims of inconsistent performance: "When I started the channel, people cautioned me to drop the project because the market was crowded and saturated with big players. I ignored them and went ahead. The channel has been performing well for the last three-four years, but our performance has always been sidelined. Nobody has ever thought us capable of becoming No. 1. The cynics say whatever they want to without once considering the real progress made by us."

Sharma further says, "For example, on and off, a certain kind of news is zeroed in on to attribute the success of my channel. Is the same news not available to all the other channels? The point is that if we are doing well on account of a certain kind of story or reportage, it means that we have handled the topic more creatively and in a more interesting manner. Our research, reportage and presentation are better - that is why our channel fares better than the others."

He adds, "People of my own fraternity make attacks, which are in bad taste. Only recently, a news channel ran a five hour programme rebutting and criticising one of our news items. Now how does one categorise or define this kind of reaction within the industry? Is it something that can be accounted for as being fair and objective?"

Chandradeep Mitra
Chandradeep Mitra, president, OMS, provides further insights on the issue. Mitra explains, "Obviously, a breaking or exclusive news story will translate into higher GRPs. But at the same time, when it comes to news, watchers are heavily engaged in surfing across channels. An individual might start with a particular favourite channel, and then move quickly on to the next one, where there's another interesting news item. From an advertiser's perspective, an evaluation based on performance spread across three months is a must." Mitra says stability, consistency and credibility over a period of time are the parameters by which to judge any news channel.

Media Planners stress that assurance of the right target group and availability of lucrative deals will guide advertisers to put their money on any news channel, be it India TV or Aaj Tak.

Sharma points out that his channel has more than 70 brands advertising on it, and this despite the fact that the channel has raised its spot rates twice in the past six month.

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