Elections mean action for the news fraternity and the Maharashtra Elections were no different. News channels ensured that they took relevant steps to attract more eyeballs. While in the overall picture, the leader manages to stay on top, a closer look shows that with a slight change in the market and target and the winner changes accordingly. The main competitors for the top slot, however, are Aaj Tak and STAR News.
The 42nd week, which marks the Maharashtra elections doesn’t throw very dramatic results for the players. For the target CS 15+ of the Hindi speaking market, Aaj Tak is on top with 2.1 per cent channel share. STAR News and NDTV India share the second place with 1.51 each. Zee News follows, with Sahara Samay National and India TV close behind.
If only the Maharashtra market is observed for the same target, Aaj Tak continues to be on top but STAR News takes the clear second spot with 1.94 share. NDTV India is at 1.68 per cent and Zee News at 1.14. Where the weekly ratings belong to Aaj Tak, the core elections days – October 13 and 16 put STAR News in almost a neck-to-neck with the leader.
On the voting day of October 13, Aaj Tak remains at 2.72 and STAR News at 2.41. NDTV India follows at 2.17 and Zee News at 1.45. On the counting day, October 16, Aaj Tak manages a 4.44 per cent channel share with STAR News holding 4.06 per cent. Here the third-slotted NDTV India posts 2.53 and Sahara Samay Mumbai stands at 2.02 per cent.
“If you look at the TG more closely, we beat Aaj Tak on various counts,” claims STAR News spokesperson. If different target groups like the CS ABC 15+ is seen, STAR News is one-up on Aaj Tak on both October 13 (STAR News – 4.9, Aaj Tak – 4.47) and October 16 (STAR News – 3.13, Aaj Tak – 2.63). The gap between the two increases further if the CS ABC Male 25+ audience is seen keeping STAR News higher than the leader.
Indeed a tight battle. STAR News spokesperson expresses, “The figures are a proof that when it comes to the real game of news, STAR News is the preferred channel. Elections are an important news event, which are of importance to the region and to a particular target. Look at the counts that matter and we know who the real leader is.”
For Aaj Tak, the election ratings don’t mean anything different from regular week ratings. Says QW Naqwi, News Director, Aaj Tak, “I don’t think elections have affected any channel in any significant way. Aaj Tak is a national channel that doesn’t limit coverage or focus to any one region. Even during the Maharashtra elections, we were the only ones to show the two conventions of the US Presidential Elections and if you look at the complete figures, we have maintained our leadership.”
Throwing a different light on the subject, he adds, “We felt that the viewer wasn’t really glued to the election. This was the case with the Lok Sabha elections early this year. It was only in the later stages that numbers picked up. But apart from that, the public is not so excited with the election process. Our coverage was planned keeping that in mind.”
In a scenario, where fragmentation in news genre is at its peak, every newsworthy event turns into an opportunity for the channels — though a single week might not really define a channel’s equity in the eyes of the viewers and media fraternity. It does increase the sampling opportunity and rest of course is in the hands of programming and promos.