On Thursday, October 30, the country waited with bated breath for the Ayodhya land verdict by the Allahabad High Court. Streets across India wore a deserted look as people stayed home or hurried home in the early afternoon before the scheduled 3.30 pm announcement of the verdict.
Everyone tuned their television sets onto news channels. Small wonder then that the television viewership rating (TVR, representing in percentage the people who saw the news at that time) of the Hindi news genre increased four times — as compared to the previous four Thursday averages — when the verdict was declared.
While the overall peak rating, all-India, on news channels was eight per cent at 16.38 hours, according to television viewership measurement agency aMap, Hindi news channels' peak rating soared to a whopping 27 per cent, up from a 7.2 per cent four-Thursday (previous) average.
The main hit in viewership in this shift to news on Ayodhya verdict day was suffered by general entertainment channels that saw a dip from a four-Thursday average of 23.1 per cent to 16.2 per cent, a drop of 33 per cent.
Likewise, Hindi movie channels, music channels, sports channels and children's channels saw a dip. Children's channels could have seen a viewership dip as a result of the remote not exactly being in their control, as adults shifted attention to the news. India has a majority of single TV households. And youth would have moved to news channels from music and sports.
English news channels saw a small spike to touch 2.2 per cent TVR over their four previous Thursday average of 1.8 per cent. This was certainly nowhere near as impressive as the spike Hindi news channels saw.
Business news also did not lose viewership. In fact, business viewership increased from a four-Thursday average of 1.9 per cent to 2.5 per cent.