Bangla TV viewership sees sustained rise; Assembly polls insulate from Covid blow

Bangla TV market contributes 6.6 % to national viewership, up from 5.9 % in 2019

New Delhi: Even as the TV markets across the country reeled under the second wave, the regional Bangla market was insulated from its severe blow. The high-octane Assembly elections, which were also the longest-ever state polls to be held so far, kept the industry abuzz with a sustained rise in viewership.

Overall, the viewership of Bangla news increased by 30 per cent during week 13-17 when the election process was underway, according to Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) data. The number of active advertisers on Bangla news channels also rose by 11 per cent during the election period, coupled with a 12 per cent growth in ad volume, as some national news networks also expanded their footprint into Bangla news to cash in on the election fervour.

The data was presented by Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India, head, client partnership & revenue function, Aaditya Pathak during the inaugural edition of the Tele-wise Bangla - the power of television organised by on Tuesday. The day-long event was organised in partnership with Zee Bangla and witnessed insightful discussions with representatives from the field of television, advertising, marketing, and media.

Impact of Second-wave & elections

According to BARC, the overall television viewership across markets was subdued during the second wave. However, West Bengal witnessed less severe impacts, according to BARC. The state saw an eight per cent drop in viewership compared to last year, while the impact was much more severe in neighbouring Odisha, where the viewership declined by 18 per cent and north-eastern states of Assam and Sikkim where it dropped by 22 per cent.

"In terms of Genres, the viewership for GECs sustained well during the second wave, with minimal disruption of original content. But, Bangla news and movie channels recorded higher viewership than the pre-Covid levels of 2020, partly on the back of tailwinds from elections,” said BARC India, head, client partnership & revenue function, Aaditya Pathak.

West Bengal TV Market

West Bengal contributes roughly 15.3 million TV households (6.6 per cent) to the overall national TV market of 210 million TV households. This share has increased over the last three years, from 5.9 per cent in 2019 to 6.6 per cent in 2021, contrary to the viewership trends seen in Maharashtra/Goa, south, or the Hindi-speaking markets (HSM). (All India, 2+, Total TV viewership in AMA '000, weekly avg). Also, while the daily tune-ins fell across markets in 2021, they remained higher in West Bengal vs 2019 levels, showed BARC data.

As of 2021, the state has 35 channels on air that are part of the BARC ecosystem, out of which 21 channels are free-to-air (FTA), while 14 are on pay platforms. This includes 13 GECs, 10 news channels, six movie channels, four for music, and one each for kids and sports. The free platform contributes to 1.9 per cent of the TV viewership, while the share of the Pay platform stands at 98.1 per cent.

However, unlike other regional markets like Maharashtra where Hindi rules TV viewership, the West Bengal TV market is dominated by its local language, Bangla which contributes 65 per cent to the overall TV viewership in the state, while Hindi’s share is 33 per cent. “In fact, Bangla is the fifth largest language in terms of TV viewership in the country, closely followed by Marathi,” said Pathak, “The average time spent on TV in West Bengal is also quite comparable to the Hindi-speaking market (HSM) average."

Since 2019, the overall ad volume share for Bangla channels has not wavered much since 2019 and remained in the 8-9 per cent range compared to the all-India levels. “It’s a GEC-driven market and the ad volume shares for Bengali GEC and movies have demonstrated growth over the years of 13 per cent and 22 per cent, respectively. However, news channels have witnessed a decline in ad-volume of almost 13 per cent compared to 2019,” said Pathak.

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