With four elections due, networks with regional news channels set to benefit

MUMBAI: With four key assembly elections lined up towards the end of the year, India's regional news channels could be laughing their way to the bank. In a bid to maximize their revenues, channels are in the process of sprucing up their programming and hiking ad rates. iTV Network, Network18, Zee News Network will be the ones set to benefit the most because due to their presence in the Hindi, English and regional markets.

Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram are the our states going to polls ahead of the big 2019 general election.

iTV Network CEO Varun Kohli says, “If you see, the regional market is growing and the local people want to consume content in local languages. Regional channels in the coming future are going to be the biggest growth areas than anybody else and the coverage will be hyper local. In a national channel the programming will be of an hour or so, but the regional channel will cover the elections for 24 hours a day.”

News24 editor-in-chief Annuradha Prasad feels, “Three elections in the Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh they are all Hindi heartland channels and national news channels expect a better response from the brands and advertisers unlike the Karnataka elections which didn’t have a great impact on the national news channels because of the local language affinity.”

The news genre contributes eight per cent to the total TV viewership. It was the third biggest genre on television in terms of viewership in 2017, as per the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India data.

Zee Media CEO- regional news Purushottam Vaishnava says, “We have started four programmes based on the coming elections. Our focus is to reach all the constituencies and give a real picture of the issues. At the time of elections the general entertainment channels (GEC) viewers shift to news channels and we are expecting minimum of 25-30 per cent hike in ad rates for our regional channels.”

iTV Network has NewsX in English, India News in Hindi and for the regional focus on elections India News Rajasthan and India News MP-CG.

“The increase in consumption helps in getting advertisers as they look at the eyeballs. Both national and local advertisers show interest at the time of elections and for national advertisers it is not that expensive like the Hindi news channels. Ad rates at the time of elections grow by 25-30 per cent. The regional news channels command half the price  of Hindi news channels”, Kohli adds.

FMCG, retail and India-based multinational companies are the major advertisers on Hindi news channels, whereas automobile, banking financial services and electronic brands tend to utilize their ad spend on English news channels. FMCG brands and local retail brands are the primary advertisers on regional channels.

Network18 has dedicated channels - News18 Rajasthan, News18 MP-CG and News18 Assam/North-East -  in all the election-bound states.

TV18 president- revenue and Forbes India CEO Joy Chakraborthy said, “Every state elections has become the national things these days, in the recent Karnataka elections, the national channels also made good money along with the regional channels.”

Zee Media's regional sales team is pitching to national brands and corporates. The state assembly elections are a very big opportunity for companies that are planning enter the tier two, three and four markets.  

On national brands approaching regional news channel for greater air time Prasad says, “ Yes, that happens because viewers watch the regional channel at the time of elections and get to know about each constituency. But the reach of a Hindi news channel cannot be matched by anyone.”

Network18 is planning to increase the ad rates 10-12 times for all the English, Hindi and regional channels.

 “The counting day ad rates are sold at a high premium compared to the normal rates. The rates touch Rs 1 lakh mark at some special spots on the counting days”, Chakraborthy points out.

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