As is known, Year 2004 means an increase in cumulative figures of Hindi news channel share. However, where the overall share for news channels has increased, ratings suggest that not all channels have gained. While STAR News and NDTV India are garnering greater share, the leader in the category Aaj Tak is recording a decline. Result: the gap between Aaj Tak and these channels that was more than double earlier has come down to only five per cent as per the latest TAM ratings.
Looking at the picture in totality, the figures for the target C&S 15+ in the Hindi-speaking market, since March 21, 2004 indicate the ratings battle swerving in favour of STAR News and NDTV India. While the channel shares for Aaj Tak, NDTV India and STAR News have increased in this period, while the marketshare for Aaj Tak dropped from 32 per cent in week 13 to 30 in week 14. The shares for NDTV India and STAR News, however, remain the same.
In terms of marketshare, week 15, beginning May 4, 2004 registered an increase for all the channels. Aaj Tak got back to its 32 per cent share, while NDTV India and STAR News share rose to 20 per cent and 26 per cent respectively.
Going forward, week 16, beginning May 11, meant a drop for both Aaj Tak and NDTV India, bringing both down by two per cent but gave STAR News a three per cent increase, giving the channel a 19 per cent marketshare. The subsequent weeks ate more into Aaj Tak’s share taking it to 28 per cent and 26 per cent in week 17 and 18, respectively. NDTV India grossed a higher share with 20 per cent in week 17 and 21 per cent in week 18. STAR News saw a rise in week 17 by two per cent going to a 21 per cent, which it maintained in week 18.
This essentially meant that the gap between the leader and the other key channels had decreased. Whereas in the beginning of the year, Aaj Tak claimed a 36 per cent marketshare, NDTV India 17 per cent and STAR News 15 per cent, the difference now is only about 5 per cent.
Speaking on what had worked in favour of STAR News, Keertan Adyanthaya, Brand Director, STAR News said, “More people are tuning in to the channel and even the time spent has increased. Correspondingly, ratings are reflecting growth and various factors are responsible for it. Our marketing efforts like the Super Elector contest, which got us over 3 lakh entries and our on-ground marketing efforts have really paid off.”
STAR News had introduced on-ground activities by taking vans across the Hindi-speaking markets. These activities began on April 5. The vans played STAR news jingles during the day and aired the channel at night. These activities were spread across all states. Adyanthaya also stated that programming initiatives like ‘Poll Khol’ are working well for the channel. He said, “Poll Khol has been the number one programme since its launch. Even our debates have been very popular.”
These are the same reasons that have worked well for NDTV India as well. Raj Nayak, CEO, NDTV Media informed, “It is the quality of coverage and programming that is the primary driver. This, followed by the channel’s credibility and the marketing, distribution & sales efforts, all added up to the growth.”
Nayak explained that the increase in shares for NDTV India has come in due to formats and concepts relevant to the viewers. He said, “One such format is ‘Jai Jawan’, where we have taken celebrities like Shah Rukh Khan, Rani Mukherjee and Aamir Khan to share some special moments with the jawans at the border. Programmes like ‘Double Take’ and ‘Gustaakhi Maaf’ were pioneers in the satire genre of programming on news channels. Such initiatives coupled with the expertise of our anchors have contributed to the sustained growth of the channel.”
NDTV India has been in the number two slot in news channels for most of 2004, except for week 16 when STAR News filled that slot. In week 18, both channels occupied the same slot.
Aaj Tak is now looking at consolidating its position Providing the channel’s perception on the latest figures, Rajesh Sheshadri, Marketing Manager, Aaj Tak said, “If we look at any emerging market with new players, the market leader's primary objective is to consolidate its position. Aaj Tak has very successfully managed to retain the top spot in spite of the intense competition.”
Explaining his point further, he said, “If new entrants register higher growth per se, that is a function of operating with a smaller base. A clear case in point could be that over the last 6-8 month several players in the category have staked claim for the number two spot. This is a clear indication that the top spot is still dominated by us.”
He explained that the channel is working towards maintaining its leadership position. Said he, “Aaj Tak has always reinvented itself in terms of using innovative formats to enhance the complete viewing experience. Rather than myopic objectives, the strategic thought is aimed at constantly bettering one’s own performance in providing relevant news with aggressive journalism and innovative programming.”
News sure is proving to be one category that is witnessing a lot of action. Now as the process is on to form a new government, which would be followed by budget presentation and the like, this genre, if anything, is only expected to record more growth.
(Marketshares calculated on the six Hindi news channels, Aaj Tak, STAR News, NDTV India, Zee News, Sahara Samay National and DD News)