Television

Indian English TV News, the combat zone

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BENGALURU: Indian English news channel Republic TV was launched on 6 May 2017 with Arnab Goswami as promoter and editor-in-chief. Right from the beginning, the channel has been making waves – for both, the wrong and the right reasons. Republic TV began beaming on the first day of Broadcast Audience Research Council of India (BARC) week 19 – Saturday, 6 May 2017 to Friday, 12 May 2017. Since then, the genre has never been the same again.

 This analysis comes with a few caveats. BBC World News has been present in the weekly top five English News channels list for 16 of the first 23 weeks of 2017. However, it has not been considered here, since it is not an Indian English News channel. The combined weekly impressions (CWI) mentioned in this analysis includes only those numbers that the channels garnered when they were in the weekly top five channels’ lists. Their overall actual weekly average impressions during the 23 weeks of 2017 could be different. BARC data for weeks 1 to 23 of 2017 for Top 5 English news channels - All India (U+R) :NCCS AB : Males 22+ Individuals has been used. For equitable comparison, week 21 data for the genre has not been considered at some places in this analysis.

That the new entrant Republic TV raised the hackles of the existing players would be an understatement. The Indian English news genre was boiling. Accusations of theft, of ratings-rigging, running an on-air war by flashing viewership data on TV screens, rookie announcers shaming older peer channels, court cases, etc. have all been witnessed. Was it suddenly an all-out war of Goliaths getting together to demolish the fledgling David? At least that’s what the new entrant wanted the world to believe: that it is a Goliaths vs David battle.

For one week, week 21 of 2017, ratings of the top Indian English news channels were not published as they had stripped their new feeds of the BARC audio watermark. The NBA-backed channels returned to the BARC fold in week 22.

Ratings for weeks 1 to 23 of 2017 – excluding week 21

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Until week 19 of 2017, Times Now was the alpha entity, the numerouno of the English news genre in India – be it Indian English news or overall English news beaming over India. Until week 19, the combined weekly impressions (CWI) of the top 5 English news channels in India averaged around 1.884 million impressions, and this included the highest ratings ever recorded by the genre in 2017 in week 10 when election results of the five states were announced.

The top 5 channels from the English news genre recorded CWI of 4.897 million in week 10, with Weekly Impressions of 2.282 million for Times Now. Week 19 of 2017 saw the second largest ratings recorded until week 23 of 2017 by the top 5 English news channels with a CWI of 4.282 million. This included the Weekly Impressions of 2.177 million for Republic TV. This is alsothe second highest ratings recorded by any English news channel during the first 23 weeks of 2017.

Please refer to the figure below:

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The figure below shows the average Weekly Impressions for some of the Indian English news channels that have been present in BARC’s list of top 5 English news channels during the first 23 weeks of 2017. It may be noted that Week 21 numbers have not been considered in obtaining the average weekly impressions for all the channels in the figure below. Even the average for Republic TV in the figure has been obtained without adding its viewership numbers for week 21. The numbers have been rounded off to the third decimal place.

Republic TV’s viewership average weekly impressions at 1.463 million over the four weeks that have been considered in the figure beloware far higher than those of its closest competitor Times Now average weekly impressions of 0.770 million, or the 0.360 million by the third ranked India Today Television. The averages of Times Now, India Today Television, CNN News18 and NDTV 24x7 are for a 22 week period. News X appeared in the weekly list of top 5 English news channels only twice during the first 22 weeks of 2017.

End points

The real competition as of now seems to be the one between the previous ratings ruler Times Now and the supposed usurper Republic TV. As mentioned  earlier, the curiosity factor that Republic TV had aroused before and at the time of its launch seems to have waned. Republic TV’s viewership has been declining from the high of 2.117 million impressions in week 19 to 0.979 million impressions for week 22 of 2017, which then increased in week 23 to 1.054 millionimpressions. As a matter of fact, from the short term perspective, Times Now average weekly viewership during the four weeks after the launch of Republic (weeks 19, 20, 22 and 23) has gone up to 0.880 million impressions from the average weeklyviewership of 0.640 million during the four weeks before ( weeks 15,16, 17 and 18) the launch of Republic TV. There could be a number of factors responsible for this, including the end of IPL 10 in week 21. Please refer to the figure below:

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It is still early days in the case of Republic TV. Only time will tell how the channel performs over the long haul. Will the gap between its ratings and other channels reduce or widen? However, in this war amongst the English news channels, on-air etiquette has been forgotten, especially on the day audience measurement data is announced. Crowing about one’s achievements and bashing the competition have become a norm. Well, if that is what the protagonist broadcasters reckon the viewers want, so be it, until their day of reckoning.

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