How smart technology is driving our election coverage: Basant Dhawan, Network18

Guest Column: Basant Dhawan, CEO-English & Business News, Network18, says technology and innovation have been the backbone of an impactful news viewing experience

e4m by Basant Dhawan
Updated: May 18, 2019 9:28 AM
Basant Dhawan Network18

The country is witnessing the largest festival of democracy in the world and there cannot be a better place to be than on the reporting side. As part of the country’s largest news network, we are telling stories to the viewers from every nook and corner of the nation. From interviewing Kinya Bagra, the tribal woman from Arunachal Pradesh who wants to vote for the development of her village, to the newly married who voted in Gopalganj district, to picturing long queues of voters in the scorching sun of Bastar, we are bringing images and stories of struggle and hope from across the nation. It is a great time to be in media.

We have witnessed a rise in our viewership and are expecting a decent revenue growth too. While the national brands are looking at leveraging the entire network association, we have interest from regional advertisers who are signing up with a cluster of our regional channels basis their market requirements. The advertising revenue growth in this period is in line with the expected increase in the viewership. But all of this has only been possible due to the persistent interest shown by viewers of our channels. And the trust they have vested in us. We have left no stone unturned to ensure that the viewer gets the best experience of election coverage across all seven phases and subsequently on the counting day when the new government will be formed. A lot of credit for our superior viewing experience goes to the technological backbone of the news network.

Our technology platform has a comprehensive back-end catering to the entire content value chain from information collection to processing and presentation and further to distribution to all our news channels. Our unique offering is with respect to election results as we are deploying systems for end-to-end data collection, processing, and dissemination that no other TV channel or media house does. We have the muscle strength of 1200 reporters spread over counting centers across the country because of which authenticity of the results carried by us is beyond doubt.

On the counting day, we will be deploying ‘Magic Wall’, an analytical tool that uses artificial intelligence for election programming and result presentation. It has been developed in association with CNN America. Powered by research done at the constituency level by the extensive News18 network, this will help the breakdown of LIVE results based on parameters like demographics, industrial growth, farmer distress, millennial influence, the impact of government schemes, etc. These factors allow News18 network to break-down and explain the result and its impact on the viewers. Each regional channel will add their editorial depth & experience to the Magic Wall.

Magic Wall, exclusive proprietary technology of News 18 is a storytelling tool 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. This will enable us to present the results in the fastest possible manner with impeccable clarity and accuracy.

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.

General Election requires great preparedness not just from the content point of view, but also from what goes on behind the screens. Technology and innovations have been the backbone of impactful news viewing experience and we at Network18 are committed to delivering the same.


(The author, Basant Dhawan is CEO - English & Business News, Network18)


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

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