'General election counting day viewership to be higher than IPL finale'

Industry experts also say ad rates will increase across English, Hindi and Regional news channels on the counting day

e4m by Moumita Bhattacharjee
Updated: Apr 23, 2019 8:36 AM

The ongoing polling for 7th Lok Sabha elections is at present one of the most talked about and watched events on Television. And it will reach the peak as the counting day nears, say industry experts. 

With the General Elections coming once in five years, news channels are looking to attract maximum eyeballs on the Counting Day and this in turn becomes an ideal time for advertisers too. Industry experts believe the viewership will exceed that of the IPL finale. 

Ashish Sehgal, Chief Growth Officer, ZEEL, said, “Counting Day on Hindi News channels is expected to see a surge in viewership but more importantly, as per various indicators, it would surpass all genres and turn out to be the highest viewed event (including the IPL finale). Viewership during the election season would be further expanded as the Hindi news genre has grown substantially in the last couple of years, both in terms of Reach and Time spent, the latter having jumped by 15 per cent.” 

Shedding more light on the indicators, Sehgal pointed out, “The recent State elections in May and November are a good indicator of how in HSM, a more than 100 per cent hike was observed in terms of Reach. In fact, regional news channels witnessed almost a 200 per cent hike. Hindi News too delivers similar reach levels as Hindi GEC and Movies.”

Avinash Pandey, CEO, ABP News Network, shared similar thoughts. “This time, the EC regulation of checking five machines from each polling centre will lead to an increase in the time needed to calculate the votes. So, it is very likely that the counting will go on for at least one-and-a-half days. I expect at the peak of the Counting Day, the ratings will be higher than the IPL finale. It is a very strongly contested election and so it is expected to attract maximum eyeballs. As a news network, we are looking at that day as the highest audience ever delivered in a channel in any event so far.”

According to Vinita Pachisia, VP, Carat India, everyone from the poorest to the richest will get affected by this one day for the next 5 years. “One can easily assume that the viewership and reach on this day will be the highest on the news channels as compared to any other event in the recent past. IPL takes place once in a year but the Counting Day comes once in every 5 years only. IPL does not have any effect on the day-to-day life of the common man, but the election does. So one can judge on their own the difference in reach between these two events. In fact, the Counting Day may even surpass the reach of a regular GEC channel on that day for the very reasons mentioned above.” 

Mayank Jain, CEO, Hindi News Cluster, News18 Network, cited the network’s past record for a better understanding. “If you look at recent data, 22 per cent more viewers tuned into News18 Network’s channels on the Counting Day of elections in five States late last year as compared to an average match during the current IPL season. Given this, news presents a much better and bigger opportunity for advertisers to create an impact by reaching a larger number of viewers at a lesser cost than sports or entertainment.”

Speaking about ad rates on Counting Day, Pachisia said: “You can expect rate hikes across all news channels, be it English, Hindi or Regional News channels. With the wide plethora of news channels available today in the market, there aren’t too many events of this scale that the news channels can cash in on. An event as big as this, which decides the fate of the country, plus the relevance of the subject for the news channels will definitely lead to higher rates than the regular rates for the entire genre.” 

On the same point, Sehgal said that with the news ecosystem evolving, especially during the elections, advertisers and brands are actively engaging with this genre due to the ROI it delivers. “In fact, FMCGs are also evaluating heavily. No wonder, advertisers are willing to invest anything between 6-7 digit rate/10 seconds on the Counting Day on Hindi news channels, which in effect turns out to be one of the highest paid property and the most cost effective. This is coupled with the fact that the initial three hours on the Counting Day would demand a huge premium.” 

Sharing more insights, Pandey revealed that they have seen tremendous response from the advertisers. “The average going rate on the Hindi network is Rs 2.5 lakh/10 seconds right now. I know for certain that one Hindi channel has also sold an exclusive break at about Rs 11 lakh/10 seconds. The exclusive breaks will be lined up in the first 5-6 hours and by evening, when the results get clearer, it will see an upward trend of say Rs 10 lakh/10 seconds.”

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