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Indian English News genre facing festival blues?

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BENGALURU: Is the Indian English News genre facing pre and post festival blues? For that certainly seems to be case when one looks at Broadcast Audience Research Council of India (BARC) weekly data for weeks 1 to 43 of 2017.  Ratings of the genre dipped in the week leading to, during and the week after India’s biggest festival season – Diwali. The main Diwali days were in during week 42 of 2017. It may be noted that ratings for week 21 of 2017 have not been considered in this paper because in that week English News channels with the support of the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) excluding Republic TV had withdrawn from BARC ratings measurement in protest against what they claimed were unfair practices by Republic TV.

BARC weekly data for the top 5 English News genre (All India (U+R) : NCCS AB: Males 22+ Individuals) shows that the lowest combined ratings of the top 5 English News channels in 2017 until week 43 was in week 2 of 2017 (Saturday, 7 January 2017 to Friday 13 January 2017) at 1.179 million weekly impressions. Week 1 of 2017, with 1.218 million weekly impressions, had the second lowest ratings in 2017 until week 43.

The highest combined ratings of the top 5 English News channels in 2017 until week 43 of 2017 were in week 11 (Saturday, 11 March 2017 to Friday 17 March 2017) at 4.897 million weekly impressions– this was the week during which the election results of five states in India were announced. The second highest combined ratings of the top 5 English News channels were in the week that Republic TV was launched - week 19 of 2017 (Saturday, 6 May 2017 to Friday 12 May 2017) and the combined weekly ratings of the top 5 English News channels were 4.282 million, with Republic TV garnering about half the ratings of the genre – 2.115 million weekly impressions.

After that second peak, the combined ratings of the top 5 English News channels have been on the decline, with a nadir of 1.986 million weekly impressions in the pre Diwali week 41 of 2017 (Saturday, 7 October 2017 to Friday, 13 October 2017). Ratings for week 41 of 2017 were the fifteenth lowest ratings of the genre during the first 43 weeks of 2017 and the lowest ratings after the launch of Republic TV. In week 42 or Diwali week, the genre experienced the seventeenth lowest ratings in 2017 to date, and the second lowest ratings after the launch of Republic TV - 2.050 million weekly impressions. In week 43 (Saturday, 21 October 2017 to Friday, 27 October 2017), the combined ratings of the top 5 channels experienced a slight dip again at 2.206 million weekly impressions.

Now, for slight digression. The Arnab Goswami led Republic TV is a major force to reckon with in the English News genre. Right from its launch, the channel has been garnering a huge chunk of the genres combined ratings. It has usurped the previous leader Times Now numero uno position in the English News genre from the very first week of its launch to date in 2017.

Republic TV’s average contribution to the combined ratings of the top 5 English News channels is about 36 percent – more than a third. In its launch week, the channel had contributed 49.44 percent to the combined ratings of the top 5 English News channels. Its lowest contribution to the genre’s ratings has been 30.56 percent in week 35 of 2017 (Saturday 26 August 2017 to Friday, 1 September 2017) – the channel had scored 0.899 million weekly impressions of the genre top 5 channels ratings combined total of 2.942 million weekly impressions. Hence the figure below shows two curved lines – one that includes the ratings of the top 5 English News channels including Republic TV and another that shows the combined ratings of the second, third, fourth and fifth ranked channels, or ratings without Republic TV ratings (w/o Republic TV).

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