Elections are fought not just amongst political parties these days, but between TV news channels as well. While political parties fight for the magic number, news channels vie for the top spot in the ratings game.
19 May, was a crucial day not just for candidates contesting polls in the four states of West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Assam, but also for news channels, both in the regional and the English news channel space.
While hike in viewership is expected during an important event like ‘counting day’, TV viewership across 4 states that went to polls threw up some interesting trends.
Regional Vs English news channels
According to Barc data, Regional News channels in all four states saw considerable growth in viewership – while West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Assam saw a 3.5 to 4 times growth in Impressions (across All Day, compared to average of previous 10 Thursdays), Malayalam news channels grew close to 8 times.
It comes as no surprise that maximum growth was registered during counting hours on 19 May (08 am to 2 pm). Malayalam News Channels again made maximum gains, witnessing almost 23 times growth in Impressions. This was followed by West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Assam which grew 8.6 times, 6.9 times and 5.4 times respectively in that time slot as compared to last 10 Thursdays.
One common thread across the 4 states that went to polls is that none are Hindi speaking states. And that fact reflects in the growth registered in viewership of English News Channels.
But who gained more – Regional or English news channels? Did increased viewership in each state turn more to English News Channels, or their respective regional language channels? The following graphs lay out the answer.
Regional News channels got more traction than English News Channels in TN, Kerala and Assam. West Bengal bucked the trend – more viewers among those who flocked to catch updates on polls results seemed to have preferred English news channels over their Bangla counterparts. This trend follows across All Day, Counting Hours (08 am-2pm) and Prime Time (6 pm to 11 pm).
Turn south and the affinity towards mother tongue grows deeper. In TN/Puducherry, during counting hours, while Tamil News channels grew 6.9 times, English news channels managed a 3.3 times growth. Malayalam news channels on the other hand grew 22.9 times, as compared to 10.3 times growth of English news channels. Assam, was no different, where Assamese/NE news channels took the top spot.
News channels see female viewership growth
What is interesting to note is the growth in female viewership vis-à-vis that of male viewership of news channel (again the base of comparison being average viewership across previous 10 Thursdays). In the regional news space a greater number of women followed the developments, across all four states. The higher growth of female viewership is especially prominent during the vote counting time band (8am-2pm). The trend goes to show that on a day of political significance (such as assembly election results), women do tune in to news channels, maybe even giving their soaps a miss. The fact that it was a working day, and many men may not have been at home would also have had an impact.
A closer look at Malayalam market will definitely be an eye-opener. Female viewership of Malayalam news channels (8am-2pm) grew 24.6 times, this being higher than the growth male viewership (21.3 times) witnessed. In the prime time, while English channels did not see any incremental male viewers, female viewership grew 2.4 times.
However, men flocked more to English news channels across all states, particularly as trends and results of the polls emerged. Women it seems preferred to catch their updates in the local language.
These are some interesting insights basis which news channels can look at devising their content strategy for an event like this. Are news channels taking note?