TAM Media Research data for the period January to mid-October 2009 has thrown some interesting trends for the Hindi news genre. The fragmented genre has shown a steady trend for the top players in the core news TG, where Aaj Tak has been a consistent No. 1 player, except in week 42, when India TV marginally climbs ahead of Aaj Tak. Otherwise Star News and India TV have been alternatively the No. 2 player. One interesting aspect is DD News holding on to a strong No. 4 position in the Golden jubilee year of Doordarshan.
However, most Hindi news channels have registered a decline in viewership in the core news TG. Industry experts attribute this to various reasons, including growth in Hindi general entertainment channels.
Constant plunge in viewership
Hindi news viewership has seen a steep fall through the year despite this being a phenomenal year for news channels. The Lok Sabha and Assembly elections saw massive coverage on news channels, which boosted the viewership, but the overall performance for various channels still shows a drop. The trend is most striking in the leader Aaj Tak, wherein the core news TG, the numbers have dropped. Star News and India TV face similar fates. Zee News, too, has seen marginal decline in the year.
Most other channels have maintained a similar viewership graph throughout the year.
Speaking on these viewership trends, Rajiv Gopinath, COO, Madison Media Infinity, observed, “This is largely due to the strengthening of the GEC offerings and perhaps boredom with the news stories or formats which were breaking.”
Premjeet Sodhi, Chief Planning Officer, Lintas Media Group, agreed with Gopinath and said, “The spate of launches of channels in the GEC space and other genres has gradually started taking their share of viewership. This increased viewership has triggered more fragmentation and the channel share for Hindi news has fallen over the year, though individually the news channels may have performed better in terms of TVR.”
Gopinath further said, “If we were to break viewership into weekly cumulative reach and weekly time spent, then it is the time spent that has taken a greater dip. This means people are going in and out of news channels at a greater frequency than they were before.”
Sidharth Parashar, National Trading Head, Maxus, too said that there was a definite decline in news viewership over the previous year, which put pressure on all aspects.
Parasher further said, “There are many factors contributing to lower numbers in Hindi news this year. Few critical ones being – monotony in content, fragmentation within news and intra genre, economic slowdown impacting distribution funds, lesser reality show slots (GEC shows), which pulled higher viewership in 2008.”
Rule of three applies on top: Aaj Tak leads
TAM Media Research data shows that for the period January to mid-October 2009, Aaj Tak has been the consistent No. 1 player among the core Hindi news target of C&S ABC 25+ in Hindi speaking markets. However, in week 42, India TV marginally climbs ahead of Aaj Tak. This trend is unlike last year, when the top slot was challenged in various weeks.
According to Sodhi, “The performance of any channel is ultimately an indicator of the appreciation of its content by the viewers. I would say that Aaj Tak has consistently been able to satiate the information (and maybe entertainment) need of the viewers, and hence managed to retain its leadership.”
Rajiv Gopinath observed here that ‘exclusives’ and breaking news from news channels had reduced. He said, “It is now a more level field on breaking news. So this has contributed to more stability at the top.”
India TV and Star News have otherwise alternated between the No. 2 and No. 3 positions.
Commenting on this, Sodhi said, “It has been seen that in the Hindi news genre there has been a dilution of the news content and more and more ‘exciting information content’ tending towards sensationalism has been added. This has brought in a number of non-core news viewers to these channels delivering higher TVRs. However, unlike pure news viewership, which is driven by strong elements of credibility and loyalty, the non-news content does not build critical loyalty. Hence, the swing between Star News and India TV would be a result of the ‘switching’ between channels only on the basis of the ‘current’ interesting news/ story captured by each channel.”
DD News performs in Doordarshan’s golden jubilee year
Interestingly, DD News has been the No. 4 player in the last 11 weeks, and has been a consistent player so far in the year. The closest contenders for the No. 4 position have been Zee News, NDTV India and IBN7.
“When seeking audiences in the lower SECs and smaller towns, where the planning TG includes the Non-C&S households, DD News forms a critical part of the reach/ frequency strategy. However, for audiences in the C&S households, the ranking of DD News falls further and often the reach and cost optimisation does not merit the use of DD News,” Sodhi noted.
DD News’ performance, however, may not be enough to make the channel interesting from an advertising point of view. Gopinath pointed out that news was largely bought for the C&S audiences and added, “In the C&S space, if the packages of DD News work out to be more efficient, media buyers would bite into it.”
Commenting on DD’s performance, Parashar noted that there were two critical aspects of news broadcasting content and connect. He said, “DD News scores high on both, with credible content in cleaner environment and large penetration. Though DD is widely available, but it is not amongst the preferred ones watched by C&S audiences. Hence, it becomes important for communications to reach terrestrial homes along with some spillover in cable homes.”
Lower down in the order are Samay and News 24. The bottom rung of the genre sees a club of channels that includes the likes of Live India, India News and Voice of India, among others.
(TAM Media Research data is measured for the C&S ABC 25+, Hindi Speaking Markets, All Day, All Week for the period January 2009 to mid-October 2009)