2018: A year when Regionals, Sports & News entertained viewers: Partho Dasgupta

CEO, BARC India says the year 2018 also saw Hindi GEC and Movies continuing to garner lion’s share of viewership and asserts that their popularity is only rising

e4m by Partho Dasgupta
Updated: Jan 2, 2019 9:25 AM
Partho Dasgupta

In this fast-paced world, year-end becomes that pit stop when we all take a pause and reflect on the hits and misses of the year gone by and the media industry is no exception.

In the last three years of measuring ‘What India Watches’ I have come across several trends which have managed to successfully captivate audiences’ interest. What is interesting though is, every year has its own unique success story. And this year for me is a year which saw the rise of regionals, innovation in news and interest in sports other than cricket. The reason these genres have caught my attention also is because I feel it is these that will set the tone for television viewing in the New Year.

The power of any genre reflects in the viewership it garners and this year has seen News, Sports and Regionals take centre stage. A deep dive in all the regionals (which I will do in this column) will show how each language genre has managed to gain viewers and this interest can be gauged from the launch of new channels as well as telecast of events in language feeds.

Marathi for instance grew 26 per cent over 2017 driven by Marathi GEC, while Bangla grew 13 per cent dominated by Movies (up 20 per cent) and GEC (up 12 per cent). Interestingly, even Bangla language HD Channels saw a 30 per cent growth in the year. Bhojpuri, which grew by 38 per cent was also the growth driver for the entire HSM Regional space. What’s interesting however, is the popularity of News channels in Odisha and Assam market. Odiya for instance grew on the back of News which recorded a 30 per cent spike in viewership while in Assam, News grew by 11 per cent.     

Moving to South, 31 per cent of total TV viewers contribute to 37 per cent of Total TV viewership. The region also has high time spent on TV (4 hour 20 minutes) and a high weekly tune-in of 94.8 per cent. Looking at state-wise viewership, Karnataka has seen a 20 per cent jump, followed by Tamil Nadu, Kerala and AP/ Telangana which grew by 30 per cent, 18 per cent and 21 per cent, respectively. This growth in viewership has also led to 26 new channel launches in the South market. With HD viewership in South recording a 4X growth, the love for language also reflects in the viewership of premium content.

In sports, we saw that while cricket still rules the genre, this was the year when soccer gained popularity amongst Indian viewers, with 50 per cent more viewership compared to last year. The increasing importance of soccer can also be seen from the fact that a record 111 million viewers tuned in to watch the FIFA World Cup held in France. In fact, with 16 million Impressions recorded for FIFA World Cup Final on TV, India ranked fourth in comparison with other football playing nations.

One of the catalysts, according to me, for this increasing preference of sports viewership in India is its availability in regional languages. Be it Kabaddi, Football or Cricket, broadcasters have understood the need to cater to the language preference of audiences. We have seen a huge uptake in viewership of Indian Super League and Pro Kabaddi League coming from their availability in regional languages. In fact, FIFA World Cup 2018 too was aired in Bangla and Malayalam, thus catering to the huge football fandom in these states. Not just that, 23 per cent of viewership for Indian Premiere League came from regional language channels.

2018 has been a year of news and with 2019 General Elections, a lot of focus will be on the genre even in the coming year. Three major assembly Election Results showed increase in News viewership. English News saw the biggest jump during Karnataka elections whereas Hindi News saw a huge spike during the recent Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram elections.

As a build-up to 2019 General Elections, all major news channels have aired multiple debates, special shows and polls to understand the mood of the nation. We will see a spike in this content in 2019.

While 2018 for me has been a year of regionals, sports and news, Hindi GEC and Movies continue to garner lion’s share of viewership and its popularity is only rising. 

A lot of new shows were launched on Hindi GECs this year. The genre that registered a growth of 15 per cent over 2017 has experimented with the content which has also resonated with the viewers. While in 2017, the duration of Maha episodes, Maha sangams and special episodes on Weekdays primetime was one hour, in 2018, the duration has gone up to more than two hours. We have also seen a slew of show launches in the supernatural genre.  

In the Hindi Movie space, 3098 unique titles were aired and ‘Dhadak’ with 19 million impressions was the highest rated World Television Premiere of the year. Not just this, three titles: ‘Dhadak’, ‘Golmaal Again’ and ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ that were premiered on TV in 2018, made it to the top 10 World Television Premiere list since BARC India started reporting All India viewership in October 2015. The genre also saw a spike of 18 per cent in viewership compared to 2017.

2018 has set the tone for the coming year and we will see a lot of action in the TV space, especially in the news, sports and regional genre. In order to attract viewers, broadcasters will need to experiment and innovate with the content. Those who understand the pulse of the nation to meet the content need will stand to benefit. On that note, wishing all the readers a Happy New Year!

(The author is the Chief Executive Officer of BARC India)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com

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