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News channels gain during the counting day

By Sumantha Rathore , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | May 22, 2009
On the counting day of the General Elections, news channels showed an increase in the viewership

On judgment day, when history was being made - the day when the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) made a clean sweep in the 15th Lok Sabha elections, the news channels in the country were battling it out to gain the viewers' attention.

May 16, the day when the General Election results were declared, saw a massive viewer turnout for news channels. According to the TAM data for C&S 15+ Hindi speaking market, the share of Hindi news channels increased to 15 per cent from 5.08 per cent in the previous week.

This time, Aaj Tak was the most viewed channel, with 27 per cent channel share, an increase of 9 per cent over the previous week, when it commanded 18 per cent share.

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STAR News ranked second, with 19 per cent market share, showing an increase of 4 per cent over the previous week. Neeraj Sanan, marketing head, MCCS, says, "Vote counting day is like the climax of a movie, you cannot have people clapping without them seeing the whole film. The audience will only appreciate the end day coverage if they had tuned into the channel earlier as well, when the elections were going on."

Shows such as Kaun Bangena Pradhanmantri, which started three months prior to the counting day, and 60 ground debates under the Kahiye Netaji show were the best sellers.

The channel spent Rs 2 crore on above the line advertising and Rs 3 crore for the opinion polls carried out with various research agencies. Talking about its No. 2 position, Sanan says, "If you combine all the news channels of our network, including STAR News, STAR Ananda and STAR Majha, our viewership was way bigger than the TV Today Network coverage. In fact, we are seeing double digit growth, which is very good in these times.

India TV, despite a drop of 2 per cent in its channel share from the previous week, stood at the third spot with 13 per cent channel share during the week when the UPA was getting ready for its second tenure.

IBN7, at the fourth position, showed a marginal increase of 1 per cent in the channel share over the previous week, while Zee News maintained its share of 9 per cent.

The channel share of NDTV India dropped from 9 per cent in the previous week to 7 per cent on the week of the announcement.

It was not just the Hindi news channels fighting for the viewers' attention. English news channels were equally aggressive in their approach. According to the TAM data, C&S 25+, All India, the share of English news channels was 1.2 per cent, an increase from the previous week's 0.37 per cent share.

Among the pack of English news channels, CNN-IBN led the genre with a channel share of 38 per cent, showing an increase from the 25 per cent recorded in the earlier week. On what helped the channel hit the right chord with the audience, Dilip Venkatraman, chief marketing officer, IBN Network, says, "It is the hard core reporting and back room work, coupled with world class graphics, technology, video-wall and touch-screen that worked for us.

"In a complex election like this, people wanted simplified explanations and we had user friendly graphics and in-depth analysis put forward in a simplified way that interested the viewers."

Though the group's English news channel managed to reach the top, its Hindi news channel was at No. 4. "Hindi is a long battle for us. We were late entrants in the space and then there was a change of hand - from Channel7 it became IBN7. But the way we performed in this election was satisfying. IBN7 is based on good journalism and not just numbers. It had the best of the looks and graphics. It is a channel of impact," he adds.

According to Venkatraman, IBNPolitics.com was a huge hit and the 360 degree marketing approach worked in its favour. Both IBNlive.com and IBNPolitics.com had 13.65 million page views on the voting days. "Rajdeep Sardesai and Yogendra Yadav acted as catalysts in reaching the top slot," he says.

At No. 2, Times Now showed a significant drop in the channel share - from 40 per cent to 27 per cent on the counting day.

NDTV 24X7 recorded a marginal increase of 1 per cent and garnered 26 per cent relative share in the genre. Fourth in the fray was Headlines Today, with a share of 8 per cent, an increase of 1 per cent over the previous week.

NewsX recorded a decline in its relative share and was at 1 per cent during the result announcement, recording a decrease from its 3 per cent share recorded a week earlier.