News channels bank on tech innovations for Counting Day coverage

We look at how the different news channel networks are geared up for the big day

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Aug 21, 2019 5:07 PM

As the country waits with bated breath for the results of the General Elections, news channels have lined up special programming for May 23, the Counting Day. 

This time, most of the channels are banking on technological advances like Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality and on-ground activations for the same. 

Take a look at how news channels are gearing up for the big day.

ABP News Network
ABP News Network is offering 500 hours of non-stop programming. Avinash Pandey, CEO, ABP News Network, said: “We have curated a special in-house data lab which will help us showcase the trend analysis and ESP (early seat projection) before the final verdict is out. Additionally, we have installed LED mobile van setups across 20 cities that will screen the counting day results live and our reporters will gauge the sentiments of viewers on ground.”
Apart from the active data LED wall and 360-degree Virtual Reality initiatives, the network will have a studio setup coupled with differentiated graphics, 360-degree VR action, and in-house data lab to make the experience better for the viewers. 

In terms of innovations, Pandey said, “We will also replicate it on YouTube to reach out to maximum viewers who will be able to witness all the excitement on their mobile phones. Additionally, our AI-based tool will create Live stories to engage and update our viewers on a real-time basis and an active data LED wall will be installed in our studio with colour codes and alignments to help understand the dynamic movement on the results.  Viewers can also browse real-time data on our digital platform with a customised search – leader wise, state wise and constituency wise search for clarity.”

India Today Television
India Today Television has set up an interactive news studio at the India Today mediaplex with Election Intelligence graphics dashboard that will provide viewers insights into state-wise result updates. Renowned journalists like Shashi Shekhar, Editor-in-Chief, Hindustan, and senior journalist Alok Mehta will analyse the Counting Day results. Viewers can see drone graphical representation of the results, innovative and interactive analysis through info-graphical seat-by-seat count and updates on the channel throughout the day.

Reporters will be on ground for seat-wise updates from all 29 states, giving the audience real-time insights with top anchors analysing from the studio with ground insights. The viewers will continue to get regular updates from the mobile studio Election Express 2.0 and Chunaav Studio.

News18 network
Comprehensive day-long programming has been lined up to bring the latest updates from all parts of the country, first reactions and a 360-degree view of the final picture. 

Basant Dhawan, CEO, English & Business Cluster, Network18, said, “Technology-backed coverage will be our differentiator. On Counting Day, we will be deploying ‘Magic Wall’, an analytical tool that uses artificial intelligence for election programming and result presentation. Developed in association with CNN America, the tool is powered by the research done at the constituency level by the extensive News18 network. This will help in breaking down LIVE results based on parameters like demographics, industrial growth, farmer distress, millennial influence, the impact of government schemes, etc. These factors, in turn, will allow News18 network to break-down and explain the result and its impact to the viewers. Each regional channel will add their editorial depth and experience to the Magic Wall.”
Dhawan explains that Magic Wall is essentially a story-telling tool backed by cutting edge technology that will be handled by the news anchors coordinating the results of the election. Once the numbers start pouring in from counting centers, it will go into Magic Wall. The tool will produce accurate data with almost bang-on precision, do a quick comparative analysis of the trends vis-a-vis the previous poll results, winning and losing candidates, their margins, emerging giant-killers and percentages.  He adds, “We have also deployed ELEXA, a technological platform that captures all the relevant data pertaining to voting by the electorate, analyses it and applies algorithms to render a virtual display of a map with factual results. On the backend, ELEXA has a unique database that interacts with the state- of- the- art technology for studio camera tracking & LIVE dynamic on-screen graphics. The result is an interactive and engaging on-screen TV viewing experience.”
CNN-News18 also aims to bring coverage closer to where the audience is. There will be an outdoor LIVE screening of the coverage in Mumbai and New Delhi. Big screens will be on display at some Mumbai Metro stations for the commuters and screenings will be organised in a few catchment areas for the viewing benefit of the office going crowd.
Times Now
Featuring the country's top Election Data Analysts along with psephologist Jai Mrug, TIMES NOW has lined up several properties that will help viewers understand why the result has shaped the way it is. The channel uses Big Data Analytics and Mathematical Models as well as Artificial Intelligence-based algorithms. Election tools established by TIMES NOW breakdown Election Data into understandable Graphic models, helping viewers understand the story behind the Election Results. Rahul Shivshankar, Editor-in-Chief, Times Now says, “With an objective to present our viewers a holistic election news experience, we have integrated state-of-the-art technology using Unreal Engine that delivers fastest graphics in a virtual space with the most authentic and reliable data. Through the Unreal Engine, TIMES NOW will recreate the Lok Sabha on Counting Day, taking our viewers through the formation of the parliament and what permutations and combinations will enable the formation of the government at the Centre.”
The channel is also looking at an extensive outreach initiative and innovations to reach out to the viewers at all possible touchpoints. Shivshankar says, “Times NOW through a series of initiatives will ensure that the viewers experience an immersive elections reportage. TIMES NOW with 600+ screens across Mumbai and Delhi; key locations including metros, railways, airports, etc. will LIVE broadcast and share updates on the election results. A first-time ever experiential advertising, the channel will have announcers at Mumbai Metro share LIVE updates of election results through their public-address system. Outside the Mumbai metro stations, Lookwalkers wearing Times NOW billboard screens will also lead the outreach.”
Asianet News
Asianet News is aspiring to make sure the news is updated every second on Counting Day. Unnikrishnan BK, VP, Sales, Asianet News said, “We plan to cover it as and when it happens. Both regional and national, up-to-date information has to be passed on both in terms of television and digital. We will be updating the news every second. We have a very strong research reporting and content team with the graphics team.”
The channel has also done research among the audience to understand what they need or how they want to consume news on that particular day. So the graphics are based on feedback from the public. Speaking about innovations, Unnikrishnan says, “From 8 pm to 12 in the afternoon, we will be running news without breaks. We will only have power breaks which will be consumed at a very higher rate. We are ensuring that the screens will speak by themselves. There was a proposal that said Augmented Reality can be brought in. It is a working day such analysis would be good only by the end of the day. People will be consuming news on the go. So the screens should speak. That’s why we didn’t opt for an augmented reality news coverage.”
Unnikrishnan said ground events would not be of much help. “You can only do discussions and open acts as results will be out till the evening.”
Mathrubhumi News
Mohan Nair, CEO, Mathrubhumi News, said, “We will have just one programme airing the counting results from across the country. With VVPAT (voter-verified paper audit trail), the result announcement should happen late in the evening or night. The focus will be on giving the refreshed counting results over the nation. We will be highlighting the counting updates of the country across the network.”
Manorama News
Johny Lukose, News Director, Manorama News said: “The channel will be going LIVE from 6 am with our senior anchors, editors, and reporters from across the state and country, along with an expert panel until the final results have been declared.”

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