Media analysts often quote that news channels today are more entertaining than general entertainment channels, and 2006 has seen more than its share of ‘reality TV’ coming from news channels. Some of the experiments have served well for news channels and ratings don’t seem to favour any one player at present. Traditional leaders have been challenged in the year and there have been occasions when the leadership crown has changed heads. However, 2007 will be the year when more challenges and more leaders can be expected.
Hindi News Genre
Looking at numbers, TAM Media Research shows that for the Hindi news channels in the Hindi speaking markets, 2006 was the first ever year when the leadership of Aaj Tak was seriously challenged. The channel maintained a distinct high throughout the year, but there were weeks when STAR News had stolen the show. On one occasion that honour had gone to Zee News as well.
Despite tough competition, the year went well for Aaj Tak with the channel adding more numbers in the middle of the year, but this slipped considerably towards the later half of the year. The good news for Aaj Tak, however, was that in the last few weeks, the channel gained more ground and maintained its leadership position.
Though marked with steep highs and lows, the graphs have been steady for STAR News and Zee News. It wouldn’t be wrong to call these the gaining channels in the year, as the second half of the year saw more shares rounded by these channels in comparison to the first half.
The year also saw the gap between the top rung and the lower rung of news channels decrease. The fourth channel in the top rung was NDTV India and the year saw it oscillate between the third and fourth positions. In terms of absolute numbers, NDTV saw some loss in the year.
The ‘breaking news’ of the year was Global Broadcast News (GBN) taking over Jagran’s Channel 7 and rechristening it as IBN 7 on August 15, 2006. Coming under the leadership of Rajdeep Sardesai, the channel did pick up in the second half of the year, but the immediate competition continued to be India TV and Sahara Samay National. The last two players in the domain were DD News and consumer affairs channel Awaaz, and not much changed for these channels in the year.
English News Genre
New players challenged the leaders in this genre as well and NDTV 24x7, too, was not spared. The credibility and the brand respect that NDTV commands in the market might not have been touched but numbers sure were. From the absolute leader in the genre, NDTV 24x7 saw a fall. The challenger here was CNN-IBN and the channel added numbers in the year. Though the second half saw some fall, the graph was a healthy one for this new comer.
At present, the closest competition to these general news channels are business channels CNBC TV-18 and NDTV Profit. The former saw a growth graph in the year, which was despite the strong competition that surfaced in the year. The year was a good one for NDTV Profit as well.
The next rung of English news channels comprised newcomer Times Now and Headlines Today. The performance of Headlines Today doesn’t have much story to tell but Times Now has had a positive graph. Even though it appears that there is still time before it catches up with the other general news channels, the trend seen does hold promise.
International channels gained importance in the year because of the active initiatives seen from BBC World. The competition isn’t much between CNN and BBC World at present in terms of numbers. However, with the new initiatives that have been lined up by BBC World and the India centric activities, including setting up of a marketing team in India for the first time, expectations are high on this front in 2007.