CNN-IBN has been battling a difficult phase in the English news genre, and NDTV 24x7 is witnessing one of its most challenging times too. Times Global Broadcasting’s Times Now has stayed ahead of its competition for at least six months now, and the competitive dynamics of the genre has not changed much in the last few weeks either. As is known, the last few weeks were a once-in-four-years opportunity for news channels, as these weeks witnessed the build-up to the elections, the counting day and the subsequent coverage of the formation of the new government.
Even though the election coverage did not alter the top order, it has made its impact on the genre. CNN-IBN has managed to attract more eyeballs in this period, allowing the channel a positive growth graph in the last six weeks. On May 16, 2009, the counting day, CNN-IBN was the most watched channel both in the core English news genre TG of CS ABC Male 25+ and in the overall CS 25+ TG as well, in the one million plus markets, that include the metros.
However, as soon as the performance of the week is seen, the pecking order changes and Times Now is in the lead again. While the election coverage has helped CNN-IBN, it has not helped it enough to dethrone the leader just yet. The traditional genre leader, NDTV 24x7, has fallen behind in the race, and at present is competing with CNN-IBN for the No. 2 or No. 3 slot, depending on the week.
In the lower order of the genre, Headlines Today, too, has seen some loss of numbers in the last six weeks, but the channel has maintained a No. 4 position. NewsX’s ratings are yet to reflect the recent change in its management.
Amongst the international channels, BBC World News’ coverage with the Election Train has allowed it to stay marginally ahead of competitor CNN.
26/11 Vs Election Coverage
Media analysts explain that one factor that had worked in favour of Times Now in the last six months was the audience response that it had managed during the 26/11 coverage. If a comparison of the viewership of 26/11 is done with the election coverage, the election viewership is almost half the viewership that 26/11 had seen on English news channels. In a conversation with exchange4media, Ajit Varghese, MD, Maxus India, explained, “A large audience base was attracted to news channels at the time. Times Now had done well at the time, and it also managed to bring back that audience to the channel.”
The Mumbai terror attack was one of the most viewed television news events in the last year, and even the elections in the world’s largest democracy didn’t top it.
Drawing on the importance of ratings in the case of news channels, Varghese pointed out that ratings alone did not decide the fate of a channel in a media plan. Adding to that, Nandini Dias, COO, Lodestar Universal, explained, “News channels are also about the environment and hence, the quality of the channel and then attributes such as channel credibility becomes important too. We look at five parameters when it comes to gauging a channel’s worth, and GRPs or channel share is not even one of those parameters.”