22 million people watched Obama inauguration

By Sapna Nair , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | January 22, 2009
The viewership figures for the day of US President Barack Obama's inauguration indicate that the man kept Indian audiences enthralled

While & #BANNER1 & # it was a big moment for the United States when Barack Obama took the oath of office, commencing his term as the US' 44th President and the country's first African-American leader, on January 20, India was also watching in huge numbers.

The overall GRPs of the news genre increased by 21 per cent on that day, according to aMap data for C&S 15+ audiences all over India. More than 22 million viewers watched the presidential inauguration in India, 10 million of these in the metros.

Obama's win in the presidential elections was also widely reported by the Indian media. This time, both English and Hindi news channels were busy reporting the preparations under way for the inauguration ceremony prior to the big moment, which came around 10 pm IST. Aspects such as the money invested and the security arrangements were covered by most news channels. The viewership picked up between 7 pm and 12 am.

The English news genre registered a 62 per cent rise in GRPs. In the six metros, there was a 59 per cent rise. During primetime, the GRPs rose by 59 per cent all over India and by 56 per cent in the metros.

In the Hindi news genre, there was a marginal increase in the GRPs. In the Hindi speaking markets, the Hindi news channels witnessed an 11 per cent growth in GRPs. All India, the percentage increase in GRPs was 12 per cent. During primetime, the GRPs grew by 16 per cent and 15 per cent all over India and in Hindi speaking markets, respectively.

In fact, such was the buildup of the news that this became the most watched US election on television. The wide coverage, right from the days of the Clinton-Obama tussle to the oath ceremony on January 20, is being attributed to Obama's personality.

"From 7 pm to 11 pm, all news channels were on this story and all other stories had to take a backseat," says Arnab Goswami, editor in chief, Times Now, providing testimony to Obama's popularity and the significance of the event. He also believes that news channels have matured after the advent of new players and the coverage has been indepth and extensive.

When asked what made the inauguration such a highly watched event, Goswami says, "Indian channels were able to provide a global perspective to a US event, which is of much more relevance to the Indian viewers than the event itself. Even during the election coverage, we learnt that viewers switched from international channels such as CNN to Indian news channels because they could identify with our coverage."