Vatican drama has viewers hooked to TV news stations

MUMBAI: The death of Pope John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI seems to have done wonders on the ratings front for television.

During the seven days following the Pope's death, according to Nielsen Media Research, CNN saw its daytime ratings jump about 40 per cent vis-?-vis March 2005, while MSNBC's viewership was up by about 30 per cent.

Coming to the new Pope's induction, although official ratings are not yet out, agency reports stated that news channel heads were very upbeat about the viewing news numbers.

News channel executives are also very disheartened that the selection of the new Pope was completed so quickly.

There is no doubt that for news organisations, the benefit of a big news story like this is often more ethereal than financial considering advertisers buy commercial time much in advance.

But stories like this one, gives news units a chance to showcase competitive advantage and add to their image equity.

News channels as a practice spend millions to prepare for events like these in advance. For instance, NBC News had their infrastructure near the Vatican in place for years, in case something happened to the Pope in a sudden turn of events.

Stories like these don't come often and news broadcaster are expected to cover cover stories like these intensively and hence there is a cost associated with that.

Apart for broadcasters benefiting, news websites reportedly also received considerable surge of hits when Pope Benedict was announced. Streaming videos of the coverage was also in demand and an estimated 100,000 streams was delivered.

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