With 0.93 million impressions in Week 24 (June 10-16, 2017) Times Now has emerged as the biggest gainer in the English News genre. Meanwhile, according to the BARC ratings, Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV continued to rule the English News Genre category six times in a row with 0.96 million impressions. Times Now covered a huge distance and finished close at 0.93 million impressions in Week 24.
MK Anand, MD and CEO, Times Network, says, “Our numbers are higher than the competition because we are the most active in breaking news, our formats and packaging are the best, our distribution is the deepest penetrated and our brand name is the byword for the English News genre. Above all, we are honest, truly independent and balanced in our opinions.”
Previous week (June 3-9, 2017) Times Now was at the same position with 0.74 million impressions with the gap much wider with Republic TV as the latter raked in 1 million impressions.
Is this shrinking margin a cause of concern for Republic TV? Vikas Khanchandani, CEO, Republic TV, doesn’t seem worried. He says, “Republic has established itself as the largest English News platform in the country. Times Network is now relying on Landing channels across mega cities to drive reach and can be seen across markets like Kolkata, West Bengal, Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi. This has resulted in 181 per cent increase in 1 million plus cities since the launch of our channel. In week 24, Kolkata and Chennai contributed to 65 per cent of its viewership in 1 million cities. Inspite and despite all the Landing channels, we were #1 in the week 24 and consistent leaders for the last six weeks. Our time spent is the highest in the genre at 8 min plus which is 2x the nearest competitor. You can drive forced reach using Landing but time spent is the true test of content affinity.”
Anand reverts and says, “The margin is shrinking because the challenger's numbers have been dropping. Times Now has always been the real leader. The newly launched channel had propped up its reach with illegal multiple LCNs, which they were forced to remove by TRAI due to NBA and TV Today Group challenging this practice with BARC and in the Delhi High Court. With this, their reach fell from 5.2 Million in week 19 to 2.3 Million in week 24 (22+, AB, M, All India (U+R). A whopping 57 per cent drop.”
He continues, “Furthermore, the new channel's TSV number has been suspiciously high since launch. It has routinely clocked daily TSV of 10-12 mins (TG- 22+, AB, M, All India 1 Million+) since launch, in comparison with other English news channels that are in the 4-6 mins range. This includes Times Now's performance now and during the tenure of our star anchor Arnab till Nov 2016. The new channel's abnormally high TSV has come from a few specific markets, the most prominent being Chennai.”
It needs to be noted that on May 18, English News Channels had pulled out of BARC following latter’s release of Republic data for its first week ignoring NBA’s plea to delay the release, only to return on May 26. The body has alleged that Republic TV has resorted to rampant multiple LCN placements on cable TV networks in the country.
Anand specifically points out their TVT (Total Viewership in Thousands) in different TGs for the Week 19 (May 6-12, 2017) when Republic TV’s ratings were unveiled. “Since this story is about Week 19, 2017 (May 6-12) onwards, I recount our TVTs in different TGs for the period. In 22+ M, AB, All India (U+R), Times Now had 1148 TVTs ('000) in Week 19 and 935 TVTs ('000) in the latest Week 24. In the TG that the genre is actually measured by advertisers which is 22+ M, AB, All India 1 million+ Cities, Times Now had 622 TVTs ('000) in Week 19 and 662 TVTs ('000) in the latest Week 24,” he says.
Anand adds, “As you can see, Times Now's ratings have been consistent and stable as our reach and time spent are not propped up artificially by illegal/ fraudulent means. We do not resort to multiple LCNs to inflate our reach, nor do we indulge in tampering BARC panel meter households to fraudulently increase our time spent. With us, what you see is what you get.”
Anand is confident about its position. “We believe that the last five weeks was nothing but passing clouds temporarily hiding the sunshine of our real leadership numbers. We are confident about our viewership base and work towards keeping our viewers satisfied. While we do undertake defensive maneuvers, our primary efforts are not towards numerical objectives. Leadership is incidental to sincerely putting together a great product and ensuring great distribution,” he says.