Counting on poll results: News channels eye big jump in ad revenues today

Top news channels have sold ad inventory at 10x to 15X of their normal advertising rates, say industry sources

e4m by Javed Farooqui
Published: Mar 10, 2022 8:33 AM  | 5 min read

With the Election Commission all set to declare the results of assembly elections in five states today, news channels are eyeing a bumper ad revenue growth due to a likely spike in the viewership. Top news channels have sold ad inventory at 10x to 15X of their normal advertising rates.

According to industry sources, most news channels sell only half of their ad inventory to advertisers on the counting day since most of the airtime is devoted to content. The availability of less inventory, coupled with the expected increase in the viewership, allows news channels to charge a premium from advertisers. Brands don't mind spending a premium since it allows them to reach their consumers in an uncluttered environment, experts note.

"On counting day, the pricing for top five channels range anywhere between 10X to 15X of their base price. For example, if the base price of a leading news channel is Rs 5000 per 10 seconds on a normal day then that will go up to Rs 50,000 to Rs 70,000 per 10 seconds on the counting day. Channels that are not in the top five also charge 5X to 7X of their base price. If a channel is earning Rs 1 crore per day then that channel can earn a minimum of Rs 5 to 7 crore on a counting day," said the ad sales head of a leading TV news company.

He further stated that news channels offer fewer ad spots to advertisers on counting day but charge a premium for that particular inventory. "We sell 35-40 per cent inventory after the exit polls are announced. Most of the channels would have sold out 80-85 per cent of their inventory. The yield would be much higher for the inventory that we have sold. None of the big channels have compromised on their pricing," the executive said.

Even if the free commercial time (FCT) is not fully sold out, news channels are able to fully sell the non-FCT inventory like the L-band advertisement. The non-FCT inventory is priced higher than the FCT. "News channels, on an average, run 10,000-11,000 seconds of inventory on a counting day, whereas on a normal day, we do 20,000-21,000 seconds. Even if a channel is able to sell only 8,000 to 9,000 seconds on the counting day, they make up for that by offering L-band which is sold at a higher price. L-band fetches 25-30 per cent more than the FCT because it is played during the content or programme," the executive elaborated.

TV Today Network TV & Radio CEO Rahul Shaw said, "Elections always spark an uptick in the viewership and revenue base of our channels. The trust enjoyed by our channels does translate into substantial revenue upside driven by premium yields."

Patanjali Ayurved COO Media & Communications Anita Nayyar said that the advertisers will look at both TV and digital to engage with serious audiences on the counting day. "Election season is important for both channels and advertisers as news viewership will see a spike on the counting day. These elections are very significant, particularly the UP polls. News consumption will not just increase on TV but also digital. Advertisers will look at reaching audiences on both screens. A lot of people will be following the results on their mobile phones, so there is a lot of engagement that will happen there. While news channels are seeing a lot of consumption on digital, they have not been able to fully monetise that viewership."

Patanjali, she noted, is one of the most active advertisers in the news genre. "For us, counting day will not be any different as we advertise throughout the year on news channels."

The revenue head of another news network noted that FCT is sold at a huge premium on counting days since advertisers get to reach audiences in a non-cluttered environment. "We have seen good response from advertisers because for them the news audience is relevant. Categories that target male audiences like automobile, e-commerce, and retail are all there," the revenue head noted.

Generally, news channels don't run full inventory since the viewer engagement on the counting day is at an all-time high. "We don't run full inventory on counting days since a lot of action is happening. Since we run very finite inventory on counting days, we can price it at a premium. The non-FCT inventory is also sold at a premium. We have sold out our non-FCT inventory. We have sold a large chunk of the inventory but if we get good pricing, we will sell inventory on the counting day as well," the revenue head added.

The ad sales head of a Hindi news channel said certain news channels have gone for price cuts since the response from advertisers has not been as expected. "Barring a few top channels, most of the news channels have resorted to price cuts to sell their inventory. Had it not been for this underpricing by certain channels, the advertising growth on counting day would have been 25-30% more or even higher than that, particularly for an election in a state like UP. Top channels have sold the inventory at an average price of Rs 50,000 to Rs 70,000 whereas lower rung channels have sold their inventory at Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000," he stated.

The ad sales head added that a large chunk of the inventory is sold before the counting day while the remaining inventory is sold at the last minute depending on the demand. "Generally, a large chunk of the inventory is sold and only 7-8% inventory is left to be sold. For example, if we are selling 11,000 seconds of FCT on counting day then we end up selling at least 10,000 seconds of the inventory. Non-FCT inventory is sold at the same price or marginally higher compared to the FCT rate if it is an election day. However, if it is a polling day, the non-FCT rate is sold at a premium over the FCT rates." 

Rahul Shaw, CEO of TVTN Television and Radio, adds, “Elections always spark an uptick in the viewership and revenue base of our channels. The trust enjoyed by our channels does translate into substantial revenue upside, driven by premium yields.“

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Will NTO 3.0 come into effect on February 1?

Experts believe the amended order is unlikely to be implemented tomorrow because a case against it is pending in the Kerala High Court, which will come up for hearing on February 8

By Sonam Saini | Jan 31, 2023 9:08 AM   |   5 min read


The broadcast industry is just one day away from the deadline for the implementation of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI) new tariff order (NTO) 3.0. However, speculations are rife that the order may not see the light of the day yet as a case against it is pending before the Kerala High Court which will be heard on February 8. The case was filed by the All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF) in the first week of January, requesting the court to stay the implementation of the order. However, the court declined to issue an interim order and instead scheduled the case for February 8.

"NTO 3.0 is unlikely to get implemented on the ground since the matter is sub-judice. The Kerala High Court has not granted a stay, but it will hear the case on February 8," a cable operator said.

A senior executive of a leading broadcaster too shared the same thought. "All broadcasters have revised their pricing and submitted RIOs but most of the DPOs haven’t. Though there has been no announcement from TRAI on whether NTO 3.0 will be implemented on February 1 or not, we believe it is unlikely to be implemented because of the AIDCF petition in the court," he said.

The amended new tariff order was issued by TRAI in November last year. The NTO 3.0 reinstated the Rs 19 MRP cap for TV channel inclusion in a bouquet and also allowed broadcasters to offer a maximum discount of 45% when pricing its bouquet of pay channels over the sum of the MRPs of all pay channels in that bouquet.

While broadcasters have welcomed the amended NTO, distribution platform operators (DPOs) have expressed concerns. Cable operators believe that NTO 3.0 will drive customers away from pay TV towards DD FreeDish and over-the-top (OTT) platforms.

In its petition, AIDCF has requested the court to issue directions to TRAI to examine the new order and fix maximum retail price for television channels genre-wise and place a maximum cap on the price of any channel in order to ensure the orderly growth of the digital cable television sector as mandated by the TRAI Act, 1997. The federation had told the court that TRAI has failed to consider and address the foremost challenge faced by the entire broadcasting and cable services industry and that they are witnessing constant decline in subscriber base for MSOs and DTH operators. 

Meanwhile, following the amendment of the NTO, broadcasters such as ZEEL, Sun TV, Discovery Communication India, Disney Star India, Viacom18 and Culver Max Entertainment revised their pricing in December last year and filed their RIOs. DPOs, however, are waiting for the Kerala High Court’s decision and are yet to publish the new pricing. According to industry sources, most of the DTH operators will be publishing new pricing before February 1, 2023.  

TRAI’s data shows that in the last eight quarters, the total active number of DTH subscribers has decreased from 70.99 million to 68.89 million. Similarly, the number of total active subscribers of major MSOs/HITS operators, having more than a million subscribers, has decreased from 47.58 million to 45.55 million.

Not just AIDCF but several other local cable operators too have raised similar concerns over the implementation of NTO 3.0. 

In a letter to TRAI Secretary V Raghunandan, Kolkata- based LCO RK Communication has said that they are facing serious problems since digitization and despite repeated correspondence with TRAI they are yet to receive any solution from their end.

“We are strongly demanding the withdrawal of the NTO 3 implementation during this time of economic recession period. NTO 1 was not at all a success. When NTO 1 was launched, we lost 30%- 40% of our customers. We are scared that if NTO 3 is launched, the same thing will happen. So, our demand is to first resolve the issues related to our business,” the LCO said in its letter.

They requested that a regulation for OTT platforms must be framed and a level playing field should be ensured. The LCO also mentioned that live channels on OTT platforms should be withdrawn immediately. RK Communication also demanded that a licence fees for OTT platforms should be implemented from immediate effect.

It further asked for a new policy for pay channels sharing percentage. “We demand 50% commission for LCOs on every pay channel.” 

“We also demand that no pay channel should be aired on DD FreeDish and on terrestrial. Our demand is first to resolve the issues of the cable operators with a proper discussion over the table regarding NTO-3,” their letter read further.

A similar letter was written to MIB Minister Anurag Singh Thakur by Fibernet Operators Federation.

"Cable operators are concerned that this (NTO 3.0) will have a negative impact on their subscriber base and end customers," said an industry expert.

“Because the price difference between OTT and TV is still very large, a price increase of 8-10% will have no effect on TV. Although NTO implementation on February 1 appears unlikely, NTO 3.0 will go into effect," he added.

The All Local Cable Operator Association Delhi (ALCOA INDIA), which is a representative body of Local Cable Operators (LCOs), also wrote another letter to Anurag Singh Thakur on January 30. In the letter, they said that implementation of NTO 3.0 will result in shutting down of Cable TV business leading to loss of approximately 1 million jobs.

They have requested Thakur to stop implementation of NTO 3 in its current form and to relook into its provisions. They have also requested to put a cap on all the channel prices for the overall benefit of the subscribers along with other demands.


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MIB tells channels to undertake public service broadcasting for at least 30 mins in a day

The order comes into effect on March 1, 2023

By exchange4media Staff | Jan 30, 2023 7:06 PM   |   3 min read


The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has directed satellite TV channels to undertake public service broadcasting for a minimum period of 30 minutes in a day on themes of national importance and of social relevance.

The themes listed by the government are:

  1. education and spread of literacy;
  2. agriculture and rural development
  3. health and family welfare;
  4. science and technology;
  5. welfare of women;
  6. welfare of the weaker sections of the society
  7. protection of environment and of cultural heritage; and
  8. national integration


        In a statement issued in this regard the ministry further stated, the Private Satellite TV Channels need to undertake the Public Service Broadcasting in the following manner:

        1. Content:

        (I) The list of themes of national importance and of social relevance given under clause 35 of the Policy Guidelines are indicative and may be expanded to include similar subjects of national importance and social relevance such as water conservation, disaster management, etc.

        (ii) Broadcasters have the liberty to modulate their content. The relevant content embedded in the programmes may be accounted for Public Service Broadcasting. However, it should be done in a manner that the overall objective of the Public Service Broadcasting may be achieved.

        (iii) The content can be shared between the Broadcasters and could be repeat telecast on one! several TV channels.

        (iv) A common e-Platform may be developed as a repository of relevant videos or textual content from various sources for the purpose of Public Service Broadcasting, which may be accessed and used by TV Channels.

        1. Accounting of Timing:

        (I) The content need not be of 30 minutes at a stretch. It could be spread over smaller time slots. The time for which the Public Service Broadcasting content is telecast in between commercial breaks shall not be accounted for the 12 Minute limit for commercial breaks.

        (ii) The time for the content under Public Service Broadcasting shall be accounted cumulatively on monthly basis i.e. 15 hours per month.

        (iii) The time for transmission of the relevant content shall be flexible except that any content transmitted from Midnight to 6:00 AM shall not be accounted for under Public Servicen Broadcasting.


        1. Reporting:

        (i) Voluntary compliance and self-certification would be the guiding principles.

        (ii) Broadcasters shall submit a monthly report on the Broadcast Seva Portal (in the format annexed in Annexure A) on or before the 7th day of the following month.

        (iii) Broadcasters shall include a compliance certificate in its Annual report.

        (iv) Foreign channels, downhinking in India (in languages other than those specified in the Eighth schedule of the Indian Constitution), shall be exempt from the obligation of Publc service Broadcasting.

        (v) The channels broadcasting predominantly (more than 12 hours) sports and devotional! spiritual! yoga content shall be exempt from furnishing the monthly reports on the Broadcast Seva Portal.


        1. Identification

        (i) The Broadcaster shall keep the record of the content telecast for a period of 90 days.

        (ii) Electronic Media Monitoring Centre, under Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, shall keep the record of the content telecast for a period of 90 days.


        1. The private satellite TV Channels, are accordingly, advised to report Public Service Broadcasting in the manner prescribed above, with effect from 1st March, 2023.

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        Viacom18 gets media rights for the first season of Premier Handball League

        The tournament will be covered on JioCinema, Sports 18-1 (HD & SD) and Sports 18 Khel

        By exchange4media Staff | Jan 30, 2023 3:49 PM   |   4 min read

        jio cinema

        Bluesport Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. announced today that Viacom18 secured media rights for the inaugural season of the Premier Handball League (PHL). Viacom18 will provide multi-platform coverage on JioCinema, Sports 18-1 (HD & SD) and Sports 18 Khel.   

        The inaugural season of the Premier Handball League is set to kick off on 8th June 2023 and will run till 25th June 2023. The International Handball Federation has recognised India as the next big destination for Handball. To amplify the efforts of Bluesport Entertainment Pvt. Ltd., Handball Association India, and South Asian Handball Federation, Viacom18 will showcase the Premier Handball League at prime time from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm. 

        Viacom18 recently acquired global television and digital rights to broadcast the Women’s Premier League (WPL) from season 2023 to 2027. They are also the digital broadcasters of the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the same period. In addition, the network clocked historic numbers during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 as digital viewership went past TV in India for the first time for a global marquee sports event, with 32mn viewers tuned in to JioCinema on the final day of the FIFA World Cup.  

        Over 110mn viewers consumed the content on digital, making India one of the highest digital viewership markets for the FIFA World Cup as JioCinema continued to be the No. 1 downloaded free app on iOS and Android throughout the tournament.  

        The Premier Handball League is the first professional handball league in India. The first-of-its-kind competition is associated with the South Asian Handball Federation and backed by the Asian Handball Federation and the International Handball Federation.  

        The first season will see six teams go up against each other in round-robin format consisting of 30 matches, followed by three knockout matches to determine the ultimate champion. The 33 matches will be spread over 18 days, and each team will have a minimum of 10 matches. Each squad will consist of 17 players, made up of 14 Indian players and three foreigners.  

        Widely recognised as the fastest Olympic Sport, Handball has a strong grassroots presence in India. Handball’s popularity at the grassroots level is due to the tireless efforts of the Handball Association India. They have ensured that the national team’s ranking at the global level has been consistently rising.  

        Abhinav Banthia, President of Bluesport, speaking on the same, said, “India is growing exponentially as a sporting nation. Handball has a very strong presence in the country, especially at the grassroots level. Our thought behind the Premier Handball League was to help utilise the popularity of the sport by giving it a platform that will amplify sports traction in India. We are glad to onboard Viacom18 as the official broadcast partner, as we believe they will help us package this competition ingeniously so that this unique league becomes relatable for fans. Overall, we believe if you package speed, strength, stamina, agility, technical precision, skill, teamwork and fast-paced action, you come to Handball, and a league for Handball will turn out to be the leading indoor sports league in this country very soon.”  

        Dr. Anandeshwar Pandey, Secretary General of the South Asian Handball Federation, spoke about how the league can revolutionise the sport of Handball in India. He said, “The Premier Handball League will provide the much-needed push Indian Handball has needed for years. It will also help to direct the spotlight on Handball not only in India, but all of South Asia, which I am sure will help boost participation and popularity of the sport. The Premier Handball League has all the necessary elements to be a highly successful competition, especially now that they have announced Viacom18 as a broadcast partner. I am sure the league will grow rapidly as it is set to produce the star athletes of tomorrow for Indian fans to support.”    

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        Repeat telecast? Big broadcasters may return to DD FreeDish

        Industry sources say Disney Star, ZEEL, Culver Max Entertainment and Viacom18 plan to bid for the DD FreeDish slots for their Hindi GECs like Star Utsav, Zee Anmol, Sony Pal and Colors Rishtey

        By Sonam Saini | Jan 30, 2023 8:53 AM   |   5 min read

        Bharat Express news channel unveils signature tune

        The tune that combines classical and contemporary elements will be featured at the beginning and end of each news broadcast

        By exchange4media Staff | Jan 28, 2023 12:01 PM   |   1 min read

        bharat express

        Bharat Express news channel set to be launched on the 1st of February 2023 has announced the unveiling of its original signature tune composed by the biggies of the Indian music industry who have composed for the likes of Gangs of Wasseypur and Kabir Singh. 

        The captivating tune combines elements of traditional Indian music with contemporary sounds to create a unique melody that soothes your ears and ignites your mind. The tune will be featured at the beginning and end of each news broadcast, as well as in promotional materials for the channel.

        Bharat Express plans to come with a bang with a focus on comprehensive news coverage of everything under the sun, from remote villages to the crisis of Venezuela, stock market to onion prices, and gadgets to galaxies.

        The chairman, managing director, and editor-in-chief, Upendrra Rai, said, " Signature tune is the hallmark of any news channel and we have selected this one after rounds of consideration by the music team. We are confident that the tune will become synonymous with the Bharat Express brand and its objectives and will help us stand out in the crowded news landscape; and most importantly, people will connect to it."

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        Shobhna Yadav quits ABP News

        Yadav started her career with India TV in 2003

        By exchange4media Staff | Jan 27, 2023 5:26 PM   |   1 min read

        Shobhna Yadav

        Shobhna Yadav who was associated with ABP News and face of some of the most popular evening shows on the channel has quit.

        Highly placed sources have confirmed this development.

        It is worth mentioning that in the last 40 days, several major steps have been taken to strengthen the editorial and managerial staff of the channel. It is also learnt that the cost efficiency and KRAs of the people working in the organisation are also being assessed and accordingly decisions are being taken.

        Yadav started her career with India TV in 2003. She has also produced a bollywood film ‘Dear Maya’ in  2017 in which Manisha Koirala played the lead role.

        The popular bollywood film ‘Batla House’ is based on the real life story of Shobhna Yadav and her husband Sanjeev Kumar Yadav who is a nine time gallantry award recipient.

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        Gunjan Taneja quits WION as VP & Head of Global Sales

        Taneja joined WION in August 2020

        By Ruhail Amin | Jan 27, 2023 1:45 PM   |   1 min read

        Gunjan Taneja

        Gunjan Taneja, Vice President and Head of Global Sales WION has stepped down from her role.

        Taneja confirmed this development to e4m. She joined WION in August 2020 and was associated with the channel till Novemeber 2022.

        Prior to joining WION, Taneja was Sales Director at Republic World for over three years. She has also served two stints at NDTV and worked with Aidem Ventures and Zee Media in the past.

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