With elections hotting up, news television channels, which usually take a backseat to entertainment and sporting genres, are set to see a smart surge in viewership, with the early signs already here, say industry experts.
Over the past two weeks, news channels have begun special pre-election programmes in the run-up to the five-phase Lok Sabha elections to be held between April 16 and May 16.
While significant viewership spikes will occur for the channels during the elections, some increase in viewership is already beginning to happen, though not necessarily across all news channels.
A comparison of the gross rating points (GRPs) – a rating for the channel viewership on the whole rather than specific programmes that are measured by television rating points (TRPs) – over the two weeks starting March 30 and then April 6 till date, carried out by Audience Measurement & Analytics Ltd, which conducts overnight measurement of television viewership through its aMap service, shows that that channel rankings have remained unchanged in both Hindi and English news genres.
However, the GRPs of Zee News and NDTV India – both Hindi news channels – have gone up by 18 per cent and 10 per cent respectively. Early Aaj Tak’s viewership has also gone up though not as much as Zee and NDTV. But India TV and IBN 7 have seen viewership flights though, showing a marked preference for the relatively serious political news channels.
Significantly, in the English genre, GRPs of almost all news channels have gone up by 10-14 per cent. The GRPs of NDTV 24x7, however, remain practically unchanged, in fact registering a marginal dip.
Interestingly, CNN, the international channel, has recorded a 44 per cent viewership jump, something Joseph Eapen, aMap’s director – research, said happens every election time. This is not to be confused with the local affiliate, CNN-IBN.
“CNN is seen by a section of upper class viewers as neutral. They view it as a dipstick during elections to compare with what they are seeing on other Indian news channels,” Eapen said. But the jump is on a small viewership base.
Business news channels, except for CNBC Awaaz that registered a 15 per cent spike, mostly showed a downward trend in viewership, possibly indicating a flight of audience to the general news channels. “Business news channels reflect the general business sentiment--‘down’, Eapen said.