News channel viewership jumps nearly 70% during Kerala and Karnataka floods: BARC data

With an emphasis on responsible reporting, many channels carried commercial-free programmes and turned their news channel rooms into help desks

e4m by Neethu Mohan
Updated: Aug 28, 2019 9:52 AM



For the second time in a row, the states of Karnataka and Kerala were adversely affected by the heavy downpour. According to media reports, the disaster has claimed around 76 lives in Karnataka and around 120 lives in Kerala. Both states are dealing with the destruction caused by floods and are striving to attain normalcy.

According to data from the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), the news channel viewership in these states has grown during the time of floods.

The data taken into consideration were of Week 29 (13th July- 19th July), Week 30 ( 20th July- 26th July), Week 31( 27th July- 2nd August), Week 32 ( 3rd August- 9th August), and Week 33 (10th August- 16th August).

Karnataka was hit by heavy downpour from August 1st, the first two days saw a dip in viewership by 6-20% for Kannada News Channels as compared to Week 30.  News viewership increased by 10-40% during Week 32 as compared to the viewership numbers in Week 31.

The floods in Karnataka and Kerala have shown the value of empathetic journalism without sensationalism. Like last year, the news channels exhibited maturity and responsibility while reporting the floods. Most of the channels carried commercial-free programs and turned their news channel rooms into help desks.

“As a responsible media house, we did not have commercial breaks during the coverage of the floods. It was also a collective conscious call by both Suvarna TV and Asianetnews TV to disseminate information from every nook and corner of the flood-affected areas with utmost sincerity. We believe that it is this commitment that made us a preferred choice over other news channels, said Abhinav Khare, CEO, Asianet Group. Asianet News and Suvarna News recorded 59% and 12% growth during Week 32 respectively.

Speaking to exchange4media Karthik Subbaraman, Editor – Special Projects, Campaign & Events, News18 said, “At News18, we promise to always be with the people and among the people. One example of this was during the Karnataka flood crisis when more than 200 people were stranded at a temple in Pattadakallu village in Bagalkote district. The temples of Pattadakallu are a UNESCO World Heritage site dating back to the seventh and eighth centuries during the reign of the Chalukyas. But this month the monuments had become a refuge from the floods ravaging the area as the Malaprabha river burst its banks. By highlighting the plight of the marooned villagers we alerted the administration to their grave situation. This resulted in a rescue operation that we covered until the last person was evacuated from the area.”

He continued, “The story continues for us long after the dramatic visuals. We continue to follow up on the fate of those whose lives have been torn asunder by flood-waters. Our continued ground reporting—we ran a campaign from north Karnataka on August 24 and 25— helping keep the spotlight on the issue and the administration on its toes.”

Kerala was hit by floods from August 8th. During this period, the channels marked a growth between 26-84% during week 32 and week 33. "Mathrubhumi News was far ahead of our competitors while doing the flood coverage. I would attribute the growth to our extensive and relentless coverage of the disaster without sensationalizing the happenings,” said Mohan Nair, CEO, Mathrubhumi News.

Johny Lukose, Director- News, MMTV, attributed the viewership growth to the airing of special programs which reflected the gravity of the disaster and situation.

Speaking on the viewership growth and flood coverage, Arun S Nair, Vice President - Sales and Marketing (South), Flowers TV & 24- Insight Media City said, “24 has been at the forefront of providing the minutest of details during the recent floods and landslips in Kerala. Taking cues from last year's flood situation and the inputs from the various Government departments, we had created well equipped quick response teams to provide with the best of coverage in case of any adversity. Nobody expected such a landslide situation and loss of lives and property. The deployment was challenging due to the terrain, and the news coverage was facing hurdles due to lack of proper network coverage. Yet the team of reporters and cameramen braved it, risked their lives and was delivering the news at all times.”

“We had immediately moved into action by providing helplines and seamless coverage of the situation. Our MD Sreekantan Nair took charge of the situation and was on the News floor leading from the front to deliver non-stop coverage of the situation,” added Nair.

Apart from exhibiting responsibility while reporting the disaster, the media houses in Kerala and Karnataka were involved in relief activities in the flood-hit areas of both the states.

“During the tragic floods in Karnataka and Kerala, Suvarna News and Asianet News went all out to support those affected by providing 61 trucks full of relief supplies and help them connect with their near and dear ones,” said Khare.

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