On May 13, the day of the vote-count, ballot boxes (oops, the voting machines) were not the only ones full of surprises. People meters too had a fair share. A look at the rating-count of the channels shows some surprise winners. Viewers, in the states that went to polls, have voted as emphatically with their ‘remotes’ as they might have in the polling booths. Jaya TV in Chennai and ETV Bangla in Kolkata performed beyond expectations. Pity, if you did not have your spots there.
In Chennai for e.g. Jaya TV, till recently placed at number four in the audience preferences (after Raj TV and Vijay TV), gave Sun TV, the leader, a big run for its ratings. According to TAM data, among all C&S viewers, Jaya cumulated 60% reach, which is less than only Sun’s 70%. The average channel share garnered by Jaya is 33%. This is, again, second only to Sun’s 45%. But the real story is in the details.
In the morning, at 8.30 am, both channels had similar shares at 35%-36%. At around 9.30-10 Sun begins to grow while Jaya’s share fluctuates. It kept fluctuating for both till noon. Then the tide turns decisively in favour of Jaya. From 12.30 pm onwards till 2 pm Sun swung in twenties while Jaya nudged forties. It was entertainment programming after 3 pm that came to Sun’s rescue. The Tamil film shown at that time pulled up the channel shares into fifties and improved the average for Sun TV.
It helps understanding to know that Kalanidhi Maran, owner of Sun TV, is DMK chief Karunanidhi’s nephew’s son. Jaya TV, as the name suggests, is run by Jayalalitha-loyalists. Throughout the campaign, both the channels wore their allegiance on their sleeves. On the counting day, a few viewers contacted by exchange4media confirmed that Sun looked somewhat reluctant to report the unfolding sweep by Jayalalitha. On the other hand, the updates to the seat-tally were most promptly refreshed on Jaya TV, and not without reason. The shift in channel preference is most visible in the afternoon because that is when the bulk of the results came. The rest of Tamilnadu had a similar story as Chennai.
Unlike Chennai, where there was a contest, Kolkata showed no contest whatsoever. According to TAM data for May 13, among all C&S viewers, ETV Bangla was a winner all the way. Surprisingly, the only challenge, if it could be called one, came from DD-7. Alpha Bangla, a channel from Zee stable and an earlier entrant compared to ETV, was nowhere in the reckoning. Likewise Tara Bengali. The Reach cumes for ETV and DD-7 were identical at 60%. However, the channel-share for ETV was 39% compared to only 21% by DD-7. On both the channels, the special programming on voting trends began early, at about 8 am and continued well past midnight. Politically evolved Bengalis seem to have feasted on this fare on Sunday.
Kochi scenario was on expected lines. Just as the election outcome in the state. Asianet, the pioneer channel in Malayalam, enjoyed its usual edge over Surya. The channel-share scores were at 44% and 32% respectively. The recent entrant, Kairali, was a distant third at 18%. The Reach cumes for all the three channels were at a relative parity- 73% for Asianet, 68% for Surya and 61% for Kairali. This shows that the viewers sampled all the channels before settling down with their preferred ones. Malayalam viewers contacted by exchange4media informed that Kairali is a channel close to CPM. It was evident during the run-up to the polling day as the channel played up the LDF campaign. The fact that LDF suffered its worst rout in the recent history perhaps reflects in the performance of the channel too.
Hardly surprising that the big three of the TV news- STAR News, Zee News and Aaj Tak- were completely irrelevant in these markets. But, to know how they fared in rest of the country, stay tuned.