While the recently concluded general elections have demonstrated that Aaj Tak is the most-viewed news channel in Hindi-speaking markets, the competition in the Hindi news broadcast space is clearly heating up with Aaj Tak's closest rivals STAR News and NDTV India having gained viewership tremendously. As per a Maxus India analysis (Males, 25+, SEC ABC, C&S homes), STAR News has emerged as the clear winner in terms of gain in channel share during the elections. During the period of election coverage (April 11 to May 15, 2004) STAR News' channel share increased by a whopping 90 per cent, while that of NDTV India grew by 60 per cent. In comparison, Aaj Tak's channel share rose by a modest 24 per cent.
According to the study, during the elections, Aaj Tak remained the lead Hindi news channel, with a channel share of 4.46 per cent. NDTV India and STAR News followed, with channel shares of 3.1 per cent and 2.81 per cent, respectively. While the channel share of Aaj Tak in the pre-election period (February 29 to April 4, 2004) was 3.58 per cent, the shares of NDTV India and STAR News were 1.94 per cent and 1.47 per cent, respectively.
An upbeat STAR News has some ready answers vis-à-vis its improved performance during the election phase. "The unbiased approach in the election coverage, backed by on-ground marketing activities has helped us achieve this viewership growth," says Ravina Raj Kohli, president, STAR News, attributing reasons to the gain in channel share in Hindi-speaking markets. "Election-based programmes such as Poll Khol and Kaun Banega Pradhan Mantri, and contest-based programmes such as Super Elector have also added to the viewership of the channel," she adds. Devapriya Mohanty, planning director, Maxus India, agrees that the variety of election-related shows STAR News had helped it gain viewership. "While everyone expected Aaj Tak and NDTV India to do well, the viewership growth of STAR News is really a surprise," he concedes.
While the success of STAR News may be surprising, NDTV India's viewership growth during the elections, it appears, was very much expected. For the simple reason that election coverage has historically been NDTV's forte, and everyone expected the channel to play to its strengths. During the elections, NDTV's twin channels (NDTV India and NDTV 24X7) have scored well in the metros, where NDTV already has a stronghold. While NDTV India enjoyed a 55-per cent growth in channel share in Delhi, it also managed to sustain its channel share in Mumbai. On the other hand, English news channel NDTV 24X7 has scored well in non-Hindi-speaking markets, especially in the cities of Kolkata and Bangalore, where its channel share has grown by more than 160 per cent. While the channel shares of NDTV 24X7 were 0.68 per cent (Kolkata) and 0.83 per cent (Bangalore) during the elections, in the pre-elections period, its channel shares were 0.26 and 0.31, respectively.
In the metros, the channel share of STAR News has also gone up, particularly in Delhi and Kolkata. While the share of STAR News grew by 94 per cent in Delhi, its share in Kolkata grew by almost 86 per cent. The channel shares of STAR News in the pre-election period were 1.15 per cent (Delhi) and 0.29 per cent (Kolkata), which grew to 2.24 per cent and 0.54 per cent during the elections.
Overall, during the elections, the share of news channels increased by 25 to 40 per cent in Hindi-speaking markets. However, the test for news channels lies in sustaining viewership growth in the post-election period. "Ups and downs are bound to happen, but our challenge is to sustain the viewership that the channel had gained during the elections," Kohli of STAR News acknowledges. Â© 2004 agencyfaqs!