Elections 2004 deliver record ratings for news channels

MUMBAI: In an election that threw up surprises galore, there was one that went true to script. "Viewer turnout" during elections 2004 was, as expected, humungous.    

Have a look at these numbers. Counting week registered a whopping 70 per cent growth in Time Spent (minutes) as compared to the average over previous weeks. While News channels on an average got about 12 per cent in the pre-election phase, this figure shot up to around 20 per cent by the end of election period.

The big day of course was counting day, 13 May. All eyes were only set on news channels through the day! As against a share of 6.5 per cent in the morning for news channels on any average day, on counting day it was almost five times higher at 34 per cent!

This data, released by TAM Media yesterday, has recorded patterns both on viewership and ad spends trends across the four weeks of the elections starting 18 April, 2004. The analysis is on the basis of aspects like total time spent, news channels viewership with other genres and makes comparisons with the viewership trends of other key incidents like 11 September and Parliament attacks and the Gujarat earthquake.

TAM Media Research vice president Atul Phadnis, had this to say: “It’s been an exceptional elections this time where a host of records have been created. The first use of EVMs, the first Sikh prime minister, the highest ever viewership share for news on television are just some of them. The fact that news channel viewership during the 2004 General Elections far surpassed the levels attained during 11 September, Parliament Attack, Counting 1999 comes in as a major surprise.”

“What perhaps made it even more interesting is elections taking place in four phases, thereby increasing the suspense for the 407 million potential Indian TV viewers”, adds Phadnis.

If there is one thing that is surprising in Phadnis' comment though, it is that the viewership numbers surprised him. Considering the kind of viewer interest the long drawn out election process attracted, anything less would actually have been a surprise.

Below are some key findings from TAM’s special report on Elections 2004:

Time Spent:

· Counting week registered a whopping 70 per cent growth in Time Spent (minutes) as compared to the average over previous weeks

Comparison with key incidents world over:

· The viewership share of news channels for Elections 2004 counting week shot up to 9.3 per cent, far surpassing the 11 September attack (4.5 per cent), Parliament attack on 13 December, 2002 (2.7 per cent), Gujarat earthquake (1.18 per cent) and Elections 1999 (1.75 per cent)

· Viewership was double that of 11 September attack; seven times more than Elections-1999

Comparison with other Channel Genres:

· % channel share for news genre shot up from an average of five per cent to almost seven per cent for four election weeks to nine per cent during the counting week; sports channel viewership however dipped from 5.9 to 1.5; regional channels saw a dip from 25.8 to 25.5; Hindi mass channels viewership dipped slightly from 32.6 to 31.9.

Comparison of weekly viewership and revenue share for news channels:

· While news channels on an average got about 12 per cent in the pre-election phase, this figure shot up to around 20 per cent by the end of election period.

· What’s interesting, however, is that the ad revenues started going up almost three weeks before the viewership share and before the four-phases of the elections. This shows that advertisers were ‘waiting for the viewers’ on the news channels when the viewers came in hordes to witness the general election proceedings.

Market wise analysis of viewership:

· A marketwise analysis finds the steepest increases came from states like Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal. Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Delhi and Mumbai, who consume a lot of news on TV, kept up their high levels right through the elections.

Daypart viewership analysis of news channels:

· On the day of the counting, all eyes were only set on news channels through the day! As against a share of 6.5 per cent in the morning for news channels on any average day, the counting day witnessed the same to be almost five times higher at 34 per cent!

· The “early morning” slot on the counting day also grabbed a large share of the viewership pie of 24.2 per cent as against an average of 9.2 per cent.

Top programmes on key Hindi news channels:

· Election related programming got high viewership on all the news stations in the last four weeks.

· While Aap Ka Faisla scored the top slot in Aaj Tak, Vote 2004 – Top Stories made it in the NDTV India buffet. Aap Ka Hukum and Sinhasan Ka Final made it in Star News and Zee News respectively.


· Top 10 product categories advertised on TV during the four election weeks include toilet soaps, shampoos, washing machines/liquids, election campaign, aerated soft drinks, cars/jeeps, corporate/brand image, refrigerators, cellular phone service and lastly pan masala/zarda/gutkha. January ’04 charts showed the top slot being occupied by corporate/brand image while last in the count was liquor.

· The total Elections related Ad Spends is estimated at Rs 1750 Million

· Of this TV + Press stands at Rs 1373 Million

· Of the 1373 Million TV & Press Ad Spends, Congress+allies and BJP+allies spent a whopping Rs 939 million.

(Ad spends analysis data provided by AdEX India).

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