Noorings: News or GEC – Ratings God sure knows how to keep life interesting

Everyone loves rankings. In broadcasting, Ratings gives Ranking. Last week was one of the most interesting ‘ratings week’ of 2010 so far. Media heavyweights commented on how most channels claimed to be ‘No. 1’ during Budget coverage – Facebook had some interesting comments. Then of course, Hindi GECs got many talking when, after over five months, Star Plus took the No. 1 slot from Colors.

e4m by Noor Fathima Warsia
Updated: Mar 8, 2010 7:24 AM
Noorings: News or GEC – Ratings God sure knows how to keep life interesting

We are loving 2010 – it has all the action and more that many industry watchers (including us) had expected the year to be loaded with.

Last week was a ‘ratings special’ week. The only thing that got talked about more was Rin’s assault on Tide, beginning February 25, 2010, when the HUL detergent brand launched an ad, taking P&G’s Tide Naturals head-on. The case was taken to court and HUL finally got a court order on March 5, 2010, to take the Rin ad off-air immediately. But as the wise say, the damage was already done. Though courtesy Budget numbers and Star Plus knocking Colors from the numero uno position, the second half of the week was full of ratings conversations.

The TAM Media Research numbers were out on March 4, 2010. The Budget day viewership data led to a slew of communication messages from channels like CNBC-TV18, CNN-IBN and Times Now claiming their respective leadership positions during Budget coverage. Bloomberg UTV, too, issued messages on the basis of aMap numbers, which is another picture in comparison to TAM data (the TAM/aMap discussion is a completely different subject, which we wouldn’t delve on here... for now).

As usual, the news channels have done what they do best – choose their strongest slice (honestly, no harm there). The TG has changed from C&S 15+ to C&S 25+ to C&S M 25+, and the market has changed from all India to six metros and 1 million-plus, depending on what worked better for the channel, and the day part has changed from FM speech hours to all day to all week. However, another truth is that all these filters make sense at some level. Since the Budget is a much broader issue than say the stock market, a broader TG and broader market like all India, C&S 15+ is acceptable. At the same time, for the dear advertiser, and hence, the dear media agency planner or buyer, it would be the largely the upper male TG that would still be measured – after all, it is mainly for this TG that the advertiser puts his or her money in a news channel.

So, at one level, it is fair for news channels to show off their strong points. Why just news channels, all broadcasters have been using this ‘data dicing and slicing’ technique for many years now. In the last few years, we must admit, the crazy use of data slices has reduced (for instance, Hindi GEC only speaks of C&S 4+, Hindi speaking markets now). But what was most interesting last week was the industry conversation that these ‘numero uno’ messages from news channels attracted.

For instance, Ravi Kiran (CEO, Starcom MediaVest Group, South Asia), wrote in his Facebook status message on March 4, 2010 ‘Over the last 3 days, four different news networks have claimed to be #1 in Budget Day viewership. How am I supposed to decode this?’ And he got some very interesting comments. One comment was, ‘Today on CNBC Udayan Ray was very critial (sic) about the No 4 business channel being manupulative (sic) in their claims. According to him as per TAM report released today they are No 1 for the last 10 years.’

Another one, (research person) was: ‘Ravi, Old Jungle Saying - "if one tortures the data long enough, then it would scream in pain and agony and then, confess”!’ At one point, the discussion also was whether this should give the Finance Minister the idea of bidding for exclusive rights of telecast of the Budget.

Chasing the top spot

These media professionals have been witnessing all kinds of chaos that rating is capable of creating for years, but they are evidently not bored. When the discussion is on ratings, everyone is charged, and this shows how much importance any kind of ranking has in any industry, including media and advertising, which brings us to the Hindi general entertainment genre.

After 22 straight weeks on the top, Colors was pushed to the second spot by Star Plus. The latter didn’t make too much noise on the week ratings, understandably so - after all, one week’s rating for the Hindi GEC genre doesn’t make much of a difference. But many dailies and other media that report on such developments wrote extensively on the development. Hindustan Times, Mint and many websites went with headlines like ‘Star Plus overtakes Colors, Zee TV’ and ‘Star Plus nudges Colors aside to regain top slot’...

No one has a clue what the next week will look like - Colors could regain its top position, or STAR could continue, or for that matter even Zee TV could come on top – after all, the difference between the three channels is of 20-40 points. Media experts have been quoted as saying that when the gap is that less, it is not one-on-top, but three-on-top (and that is a happy situation). So, what is all this mad rush on one-week data about? Like we said, ranking – everyone loves ranking. The Ratings God rules in broadcasting for that reason.

Now the IPL is here, and let’s see if the general entertainment channels have finally cracked how to handle the mega-sporting event; in particular, Colors’ IPL-specific programming would be an interesting watch. According to Colors’ CEO Rajesh Kamat, this was one of the biggest things that the channel had worked on, and we are all waiting to see the results of this initiative.

Finally, before signing off, here is wishing a very Happy Women’s Day to all our women readers. Do catch exchange4media’s Women Icons initiatives, where we have written on all the women leaders who make their presence felt in the Indian advertising industry, every day.

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