Mumbai rains fuel news viewership

MUMBAI: The 26 July Mumbai deluge brought along with it miseries for the city’s denizens and the state administration, but it also brought a week’s bonanza for news channels as viewership surged to 17 per cent, even as prime time viewing, mostly comprising serials, soaps and movies, dipped 55 per cent on the rainy Tuesday.

According to TAM Media Research, which undertook a special study to comprehend the effect of Mumbai floods on not just the viewership of news channels, but TV viewing as a whole during the deluge week, prime time viewing between 8-11 p.m. fell on 26 July drastically as people were left stranded at various points, away from TV sets, and breakdown in power supply.

The news channels share as a genre went up during the deluge week to 17 per cent from 8 per cent four weeks prior to the eventful seven days and came mostly at the expense of mass entertainment, which slid to having 27 per cent from 35 per cent, and Hindi movies that were down to 10 from 13 per cent.

TAM data also highlights that a calamity-struck Mumbai, the financial hub of India, held interest for people all over the country as they tuned in to the various news channels for information. The all-India average time spent on news channels during the deluge week went up 57 per cent to 94 minutes per week from 60 minutes during an average four week earlier.

That news channels were a primary source of information for many in distress could also be gauged from the fact that in the metros, TAM data shows, time spent on news channels went up 82 per cent to 116 minutes during the deluge week from an average 64 minutes four weeks earlier.

In the Hindi speaking market, the rise in news channels’ viewing was sharper during the deluge week --- a whopping 95 per cent to 138 minutes per week from 71 minutes.

News channel viewership might have gone up during the Mumbai calamity at the expense of mass entertainment primarily, but the market share of regional and religious channels remained constant at 10 and 1 per cent, respectively for the same period.

The only other genre that actually witnessed a substantial surge, apart from news, during the deluge week was the sports segments. For the four weeks ending on 23 July, sports had a share of 3 per cent, while for the week ended 30 July, the share had risen to 5 per cent. Share of English movies and cable channels increased 1 per cent each during the deluge week.

The TAM study, which also compared the Mumbai calamity to similar other domestic and international events, found that the rain crisis fuelled more news channel watching (11 per cent) in six metros than anything else. Only Tsunami matches the deluge when the news channels again notched up a share of 11 per cent.

During the World Trade Centre attack in the US, news channels’ share in six metros had been 8 per cent, while news viewership rose to 9 pr cent during the general elections in 2004.

But an interesting point is that the 12 March 1993 Mumbai blast, which was a catastrophe on a larger scale resulting in more mayhem, saw news channels share stand at 5 per cent, compared to the recent happenings.

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