Hindi News genre sees 19% growth in market share amid COVID-19 concerns

With the growing spread of the Coronavirus globally as well as in India, people have been glued to all sources of news to get the latest updates and information on Government advisories. 

Hindi News genre has seen a jump in market share as well as reach in the last two weeks, when the Covid-19 cases started emerging in India. As per BARC India data, the average weekly market share grew by 19.2 per cent – from 3.2 per cent in Weeks 1 to 7 of 2020, to 3.8 per cent in Weeks 8-9. 

Average weekly reach was up at 242 minutes in Weeks 8-9, as compared to 231 minutes in Weeks 1-7, an increase of 4.8 per cent. Average weekly viewing minutes was also up at 32,508 million minutes, from 27,953 million minutes, a growth of 16.3 per cent. 

As per BARC data, in Week 9 of 2020, Aaj Tak continued to lead the Hindi News genre with a gross viewership of 123,507 [HSM (U+R) : NCCS All : 15+ Individuals]. Placed second was India TV with a gross viewership of 102,710, followed closely by Zee News at No. 3, which garnered a gross viewership of 100,538. News18 India was placed in the fourth spot with a gross viewership of 99,504, while Republic Bharat was in the fifth position with a gross viewership of 85,184. 

Industry experts believe that with the global Coronavirus spread and more and more people confined to their homes, the volume of television and news consumption will only increase in the coming days. 

Speaking on role of media in times of crisis, Abhay Ojha, President – Sales & Marketing, News Nation Network, said, “Awareness about any issue, especially health related issues, is very critical and of utmost importance. The role of media is not limited to just serving news on the political scenario, but inevitably it has to create awareness about a medical crisis, if any.” 

Viewership spurt 

Ojha further said, “It has been seen that the news genre grows during events and then drops. Till date we have seen viewership going high for mostly domestic events like Elections, Surgical Strikes, Pulwama attacks and the recent Trump visit. All these have an element of national dimension and are more state or city centric. The case of Covid-19 is neither city nor state specific, instead it is global and extremely critical.” 

He felt that the news genre is expected to rise, but the viewers would be more of a floating audience, who would come in for news updates but the time spent might not be that much, as the event is gradual and not abrupt. 

“With sweeping ambiguity and uncertainty that coincides with the novel Coronavirus, people are being drawn to news channels and news websites to gain the latest information about new cases, developments, and so on and so forth,” observed Avinash Pandey, CEO ABP News Network, adding, “Not only that, information overload in the form of falsehoods and half-truths are also drawing people to primary sources and traditional means of news consumption, which hold a higher credibility repute in this social media age.” 

Varun Kohli, Group CEO, ITV Network, added here, “News channel viewership is bound to grow on account of it being a very newsy environment. People might get information through digital, but are coming back to news channels for authenticity of it. News channels are the primary source for verifying facts as well as understanding what’s happening around the globe.” 

News channels’ strategy 

On News Nation Network’s approach Ojha said, “We are following the simple rule, which is ‘When you understand, you are more likely to take action’.” The network is using technology in a major way to make its viewers understand not only about Covid-19, but how to handle it responsibly, along with guidance on precautions and solutions and how to remain calm in this alarming situation. 

Awareness is the only way through which the outbreak can be beaten, and one of the most effective ways to spread awareness is through TV. Viewers are flocking to the news genre to get more updates as the gradual sense of being locked down is sinking in, with no cinema halls, malls, public events accessible for some time to come. 

Focussing on generating more and more awareness, News Nation is enhancing education amongst its viewers not only about Covid-19, but how to handle it responsibly, what precautions to take and how to remain calm in this alarming situation. 

“We are following the simple rule – ‘When you understand, you are more likely to take actions’. We are making our viewers understand the problem along with guidance on precautions and solutions, as we know audience wants to know the facts attached to Covid-19. Technology always helps in better understanding and hence, we are using it maximum during this stressful time and assisting our audience,” Ojha informed. 

As consumers stay home due to self-isolation and quarantine measures, homebody economy will only see a rising curve on all fronts. 

News channels naturally witness viewership spike when the intensity, impact, and overall effect of a social/ political affair is high. Pandey told Adgully, “At ABP News Network, we have seen an upsurge in viewership during the crucial times of elections, key verdicts, and other national news events. These critical times draw people to news-viewing as they seek regular updates on all aspects associated with the ongoing issue.” 

Continuing further, he said, “In this light, Covid-19 is a very contentious issue, which concerns people globally. Hence, high viewership is sure-shot if news channels cover the issue effectively. Having said that, however, we don’t see Covid-19 as a viewership opportunity. ANN is a socially responsible news network and in this regard, we want to fulfil our responsibility to keep the viewers apprised. These are perilous times when news channels are expected to create maximum awareness and inspire responsible action while eradicating fear and panic among the people.” 

Since March 2, when India reported a spike in Covid-19 cases, Republic TV has been on overdrive in its news coverage on the global pandemic. 

Vikas Khanchandani, Group CEO, Republic Media Network, told Adgully that Republic TV has carried dedicated programming to informative shows with the best panel of doctors on at least 2 slots daily. He further said that in the last 48 hours alone, 95 per cent of the content on the Network has been dedicated to coverage of Coronavirus. “We have broken the traditional debate format in primetime to speak to India’s biggest medical experts who have been taking questions from viewers related to Coronavirus on Arnab Goswami’s show,” he added. 

He claimed that the Network’s initiative to help stranded Indians to reach out to the Indian Government had met success, with many getting help in countries like Iran and Italy. 

Experts linked to WHO and AIIMS specialists, along with Civic body heads, like the BMC Commissioner, have joined the Republic initiative to spread awareness.


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