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Guest Column: Changing viewership trends of Kannada News genre: C Shyamsundar

01-December-2015
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Guest Column: Changing viewership trends of Kannada News genre: C Shyamsundar

Traditionally, Kannada News has its own unique characteristics when compared to its peers from other languages. Here are few of them: about 50% of its ratings come from non news programs. Yes, at times these entertaining program capsules generate more numbers than the news bulletins and political debates. Women viewership too is pretty healthy and comparable with that of men (48% Vs 52% male). And no wonder some of the programs of leading news channel can be comparable with that of soaps from GECs. Baring couple of news bulletins, morning bands of most news channels resemble that of GECs. And more importantly, when dramatic developments take place in state politics, one might notice astrologers predicting the fate of key political leaders, live from the news studios.

Welcome to the latest news: viewing pattern and the loyalty seems to be shifting too quickly in recent times.  With 6-7 channels 3 years back Vs 11 channels at present, too many players are fighting for their pie in Kannada News genre. Yet no channel got close to the undisputed no.1; Tv9 continues to be the leader with about 2.5 times ahead of its nearest competition. Now the debate is about who is 2nd best among Kannada News. This recent small screen battle is getting noticed in a big way.

It was not long ago that Suvarna News 24x7 was clear no.2 and Public TV was sharing 3rd position. If one glances thru last year analysis, it shows that Suvarna News 24x7 was in 2nd position for 31 out of 52  weeks (Source: TAM Reports, Karnataka Market, CS 15+).

At present the story is different and recent 15 weeks BARC analysis show that Public TV was No. 2 for 7 out 15 weeks. In Case of Bangalore, a key market of the state, Public TV was no. 2 for 13 out of 15 weeks. Last 4 weeks analysis presents even more competitive scenario among 4 channels for the 2nd position:

Wk 43-46 4 Wks Avg. Wk 46
TV9 Kannada 83.6 95.1
Suvarna News 24x7 32.9 39.4
Public TV 34.6 42.1
BTV News 28.1 37.5
ETV News Kannada 27.6 33.8

Source: BARC Karnataka, Rat % Summary of Kannada News Channels. Wk 43-46. TG: NCCS 15+

While Public TV is clear no.2, Suvarna News 24x7 and BTV are not too behind (Ref: the table).  And as per the sources, another 2-3 news channels are set for the launch shortly. This will cause further fragmentation of market share. Needless to say that content will continue to be the king to determine the clear no. 2 in coming days.

While many developments, in last couple of years, would have played a role; aggressive digitization, DTH penetration and BARC rural addition could be few important ones to note. News consumption and time spent are much lower for news genre in rural market comparing to their urban peers, which brings down the average performance of each channel.  In fact ‘early to bed and early to rise’ philosophy of rural may push to alter conventional definition of prime time

(C Shyamsundar is former Executive Director & CEO of Asianet News Network Pvt. Ltd. The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of the publication)

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