Delhi rape case agitation fuels news channel viewership

By Raushni Bhagia , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | January 11, 2013
In the first lot of data to be released after 13 weeks, the changes in viewership pattern are somewhat smaller than had been anticipated.

A lot has been said and done about the various genres and their performances post-DAS (Digital Addressable System), in the absence of TAM data. However, the picture is now clear with the release of the final set of data for the news genre. The data was deferred by the television measurement body for a period of nine weeks starting Week 41 (which mapped the viewership between September, 30 and October, 6, 2012) and extending till Week 49 (December, 2 to December, 8, 2012).

Aaj Tak

ABP News

India TV

Zee News

This delayed data was supposed to be released on December 19. However, on the request of the news broadcasters, TAM decided to delay the release of the news genre data for three more weeks. On January 9, the data for the new genre was released for the 13-week period (Week 41 of 2012 to Week 1 of 2013).

While it was expected that all the channels would witness a drop in GRPs during DAS implementation, the Delhi gang rape case gave peak ratings to the news genre, and prevented that from happening. The tragedy on December, 16 stirred up the nation and drew passionate reactions from a large section of the society. While the protests succeeded in drawing promises of a response from the authorities (fast track courts and better security), they also gained extra viewership for the Hindi news genre.

Each channel in the genre saw its GRPs rise by about 7-10 points in Weeks 51 and 52.

Consider this: AajTak jumped from 20 GRPs in Week 50 to 30 GRPs in Week 51; while ABP News garnered 20 and 32 GRPs in Weeks 50 and 51, respectively. India TV and Zee News, too, gained six GRPs each. Across the board, viewership remained high in Week 52.

Apart from this, Zee News had telecast an exclusive interview of the victim's friend and eyewitness to the incident eyewitness on Saturday, January 4. The interview had repeat telecasts on the channel and it garnered extra GRPs for the channel in the current week (Week 1 of 2013). Zee News saw peak GRPs of 27 points resulting in its climbing one spot with a relative channel share of 16 per cent. Zee News, currently at No. 3, has remained stable at an average 17 GRPs pre-DAS (Weeks 35-43) and post-DAS (Weeks 44-52).

While most of the media planners confirm that there are chances that this was the reason for the peak GRPs of the channel, some of them were not convinced that a single interview would have made such a difference. .

Vidhu Sagar, executive vice-president, Carat states that the channel didn't do much to promote the Friday 8 pm segment exclusively. "Firstly, it was a very specific piece of news and it must be accepted that had the channel publicised it more, it could have attracted much more eyeballs."

He also states that to attribute the success of the channel to the interview, one must wait and watch if the channel's GRPs drop Week 2 onwards.

Vidhu Sagar

R S Suriyanarayan

Meanwhile, it must also be noted that coming from a large network, Zee News has a strong distribution network, which its close competitor, India TV, lacks. Zee News has pushed down India TV, which garnered 24 GRPs in the current week, with 14 per cent share. The channel has dropped its average ratings from 25 GRPs (Weeks 35-43) to 20 GRPs (Weeks 44-52).

Interestingly, ABP News has expanded its reach to 37.3 million, thus moving ahead of all the other channels by 0.3 million. The channel has recently come out of the 'STAR' network and yet continues to have a stable distribution network. Being at the second position, the channel has decreased its average GRPs from 26 points (Week 35 to Week 43) to 25 points (Week 44 to Week 52), while in the current week (Week 1 of 2013) the channel garnered 29 GRPs, with a relative share of 17 per cent.

Apart from these, the genre sported almost the same hierarchy across the channels. The media planners believe that the drop in the channel GRPs was expected.

R S Suriyanarayan, associate vice-president, Initiative, says, "The drop that was expected was larger than what the genre has witnessed, post DAS. However, the ratings have substantially decreased during Weeks 45 to 50, which was obvious (since Week 44 was the first week after DAS). This was the time of 'TV to no TV'."

Sagar of Carat supports this by saying that the viewership will remain in the same space. "The loss of GRPs from Hindi news might have been the gain of viewership in some other niche genre."

"There is no doubt that the top four channels have a lot more stickiness than the latter ones. Also, I believe that viewers generally keep switching from one channel to another when it comes to news,"

says Sagar.

Aaj Tak remains on the top with its ratings going down from 29 GRPs (Weeks 35-43) to 26 GRPs (Weeks 44-52). In the current week, however, the channel acquired 32 GRPs, with a relative share of 19 per cent.

After ABP News, Zee News and India TV, At No. 5, IBN 7 from the Network 18 group has clocked 15 GRPs in Week 1 of 2013, with 9 per cent channel share. The channel has maintained its GRPs at 12 points in the pre and post-DAS period.

News 24 stands at the sixth position with 13 GRPs and a relative share of 8 per cent in the current week ended January, 5. The channel has decreased its average GRPs drastically from 14 per cent in the pre-DAS period, to 9 per cent in the post-DAS period.

The seventh position is occupied by NDTV India with 7 per cent channel share and 12 GRPs in the current week. The channel has marginally dropped its average GRPs from 12 points to 11 points.

Lastly, at Nos 8, 9 and 10 stand the channels Tez, DD News and Samay, with 7, 5 and 4 GRPs, respectively, in the current week.

Live India is at No. 11 with 2 GRPs.

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