English news channels chalk out plans to make the most of elections

Ad rates in the genre have seen massive spike this election season

e4m by Moumita Bhattacharjee
Updated: May 6, 2019 8:22 AM

General elections 2019 will enter the fifth phase on Monday and Hindi news channels are already raking in a lot of moolah. The ad rates per second for the genre have seen a huge spike. But it’s not just the Hindi news channels that are reaping the benefits of the elections. English news channels have also seen an upsurge of viewership and have strategic plans in place to make maximum gains from the elections.

Speaking to exchange4media, Vikas Khanchandani, CEO, Republic TV, says, “Sponsorships are a combination of multiple assets. You have core programming that are dedicated to election coverage, analysis and many programmes thereof. Like, we have a special bus that is covering the length and breadth of the country, taking viewers to some of the biggest names in any state. In addition to that, there are polling day, counting day and government formation day assets. And then there are also non-election based opportunities. Counting day obviously is a critical asset because viewership peaks on that day. Most of the leading channels would have rates over Rs 1.2-1.5 lakh/10 seconds on the counting day, both Hindi and the top ones in the English space. As far as frill levels are concerned, we are almost at 85% for these days.”

For Times Now and Mirror Now, premium ad-rates are not restricted to just the counting day. They are offering advertisers a three-month agenda. 

Nikhil Gandhi, President-Revenue, Times Network, informs, “As far as English channels are concerned, we don’t restrict our ad rates to just the counting day. Our election upsurge, as far as ads are concerned, is already happening since April. We have a clear three-month agenda. There’s the government formation day, the oath-taking ceremony and so much more. That’s what we offer to our advertisers. As far as we are concerned, we have a premium. We are the leaders in this space. When it comes to elections, we do get a 30-40% premium on the ad-rates.”

Explaining further about Times Network’s election strategy, Gandhi says, “I think if you look at the news channel space, the driving criteria is the credibility of the data that you bring to the viewers. In the past, we have seen many channels cringe with outside information that is not credible. As far as Times Now and Mirror Now are concerned, we have a very credible data collation mechanism. We work with many software companies as well as our own psephologists who put together and crunch data to the most accurate one. So from that perspective, if you look at any of the past elections, whether it’s district elections or the last Lok Sabha elections, Times Now has always been able to gather more than 55% viewership share.”

Basant Dhawan, CEO, English & Business News Cluster, News18 Network, lists what they are offering the advertisers apart from shows on elections. 

“Besides the conventional sponsorships of various election shows & commercial inventory, we are providing opportunities for advertisers to associate with unique election tools on broadcast. For example, we have developed an interactive ‘magic wall’ that would be used for in-depth analysis & brands can associate with this tool. The brands will gain with a high brand recall due to their association across the various broadcast election tools. This will deliver higher ROIs,” says Dhawan. 

“The viewership during the recent elections in five states increased by almost seven times even though these states are not heavy TV viewership states. The general elections, which would be watched by all India, is expected definitely break this benchmark by miles,” he adds.

Dhawan also mentions how ad-rates are already on the higher side and counting day would mean a further premium. “There is already an increase in the ad rates which is in line with the higher viewership in this election period. Due to the limited inventory & huge viewership spike, the counting day inventory is naturally being offered at a further premium,” he informs. 

Talking about the viewership that English news channels are witnessing due to the elections, there has been a considerable shift in number towards the higher side.  Partho Dasgupta, CEO, BARC India, explains with numbers how English news channels have managed to grow significantly. 

“With the polling for the Lok Sabha elections underway, we can already see innovative programming efforts across news channels as they all vie for the viewer's attention. While Hindi News dominates the news segment with mass reach, English News channels cater to English-speaking audiences and are also covering the event widely. The viewership for English news genre has grown significantly during past elections that we have witnessed and the data corroborates this too.” 

“For example, on the counting day for Karnataka assembly elections, the English news genre registered a 4.5x growth in viewership. The more recent 5-state elections results in December too led to a 3.5x jump in viewership for the genre,” he sums up. 

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