Will news channels surpass GECs in viewership today?

Counting Day euphoria expected to translate into record viewership and increase in revenue for news networks, say experts

e4m by Ruhail Amin & Tasmayee Laha Roy
Published: May 23, 2019 9:11 AM  | 4 min read

The verdict of the 2019 Lok Sabha Election results will be out today and the big question among Indian media houses is if their viewership is going to beat that of GECs once again.

Will viewers watch more news than their daily soaps today? Industry experts say that going by past records viewership on news-heavy days, at least this year, was more than GECs it should be no different today.
"Counting day will overtake past records as there is a huge euphoria for results and will have a far more reach than GECs," said Varun Kohli, CEO, iTV Network.

On several occasions, like on March 1 – the day IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman returned to India from Pakistan – the viewership of several news channels surpassed that of general entertainment channels. Coming to the numbers, according to BARC, the gross impression in 000s for Aaj Tak in Week 8 of February during the Pulwama attack stood at 16,92,976 and the following week when Abhinandan returned to India it was 22,66,082. In the same two weeks, ABP News clocked 3,02,678 and 4,62,693 gross impression in 000s. The numbers were way higher for each of these channels compared to that of any other day when GECs top viewership charts.
Most news channels and networks have an action-packed day planned and are certain that viewership will create records today.
“At ZEE Media, we have planned a “Global Coverage” of this Counting Day through our global network and alliances. We expect to capture the attention of viewers across the globe. ZEE News is well known for its news embedded with precise analysis. Viewers looking for facts and its impact will surely switch to our channel to watch our coverage with Sudhir Chaudhary, Editor-in-Chief,” said a spokesperson at ZMCL.

Talking of plans for the day, the network’s spokesperson said, “On this counting day, viewers from across the country and the world will tune on to Zee News for the most accurate, real-time results and analysis. Clearly, the viewership will be at its peak.”
Meanwhile, brand expert Harish Bijoor said, “Expect this viewership to be at an all-time high. The long and arduous election campaign that stretched over 7 laborious phases has excited the Indian voters. This has reflected in an all-time record voter turnout, and this will definitely reflect on TRPs at news channels of every language.”
“This time, the EC regulation of checking five machines from each polling centre will lead to an increase in the time needed to calculate the votes. So, it is very likely that the counting will go on for at least one-and-a-half days. I expect at the peak of the Counting Day, the ratings will be higher than the IPL finale. It is a very strongly contested election and so it is expected to attract maximum eyeballs. As a news network, we are looking at the highest audience ever delivered in a channel in any event so far,” said Avinash Pandey, CEO, ABP News Network.

The channels are also banking on the viewership count to bring in increased revenues. According to Pandey, while the average going rate on the Hindi network is Rs 2.5 lakh/10 seconds right now there are exceptions being made and a certain Hindi channel has also sold an exclusive break at about Rs 11 lakh/10 seconds.
Networks are banking on newer technologies to attract viewers on this counting day.
“With our innovative AI product, we expect News18 to gain huge numbers with our all-day- long programming. During the state elections of Rajasthan in December last year, News18 Rajasthan was the top channel in the state and overall five of the top ten channels in the state were in the news genre. So clearly, elections in a democracy do have a much greater pull. The general election results has been far more anticipated especially in a year when competition between political parties is at its crescendo,” said Basant Dhawan, CEO, English and Business News, Network18.
“The 2014 election counting day saw an average daily viewership of Hindi News go up almost 5 times. Considering similar viewership growth this year as well, Hindi News will be #1 genre on that day, especially considering that counting this year will go on till evening,” he added.

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