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How news channels are making the most of the election juggernaut

With just 3 days left for the first phase of the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections, political campaigning as well as election coverage in news channels is reaching a crescendo. Clashing with the Vivo IPL 2019, viewers as well as brands are having a tough time dividing their attention for both the mega events. 

Contrary to various projections, Radio has witnessed a significant growth in ad insertions by political parties in the lead-up to the Lok Sabha elections. This was revealed by AdEx India, a division of TAM Media Research, in its cumulative weekly tracker for the general elections 2019 for the period January 1 to March 16, 2019. 

As per the findings, ad insertion for political parties grew 14 per cent on Radio, whereas it is 9 per cent less in print and 83 per cent less on TV till March 16, 2019, compared to the same period of the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections. 

All the channels have launched a slew of new shows and ramped up their existing programming for the widespread election coverage. 

Basant Dhawan, CEO, English/ Business Cluster, Network18, said, “Elections are one of those times that clearly drive a strong spike in viewership of the news channels. CNN-News18 has already started its programming around the General Elections under the brand ‘A Million Votes’. With its diverse formats and data-driven programming, the channel will bring up-to-the-minute updates throughout the election, keeping viewers apprised of the big moments as they unfold and scrutinise key policies and issues ahead of polling day.” 

When it comes to digital, Google India recently came up with an India Transparency report, with specifics of spends on political ads since February 2019. As per the report, a total of Rs 3.76 crore were spent by political parties and candidates for 831 political ads on Google since February 2019. The report is part of Google’s initiative to make the Lok Sabha elections transparent. Google enforced its election ads policy for India on February 20, 2019. 

India News has already kicked off the special election news shows ahead of 2019 Polls; they have started a campaign – ‘Ab Ki Baar Likh Kar Do Sarkar’, in which they insist the politicians to write down their promises which they make before the elections. India News is also doing series of opinion polls and exit polls. 

The advertising spends of the country is expected rise in 2019, driven by the General Elections. According to GroupM’s Report 2019, Indian AdEx is expected to grow at 14 per cent in 2019, India News stated. 

According to Varun Kohli, CEO, iTV Network, “Advertising demand on Television has immense headroom to grow. We are hoping the 2019 elections will deliver higher revenue growth to the news genre. Advertisers would spend heavily this year, leveraging the Cricket World Cup and elections, with categories such as consumer goods, retail and ecommerce, in fact, across all categories.” 

News Nation also has an interesting line-up for the elections. ‘Abki Baar Kiski Sarkar’ is based on-ground reports provided by a team of reporters who travel to different states. Another election show is ‘Chunav Ka Lie Detector Test’, which revolves around viral stories and truth of promises made by leaders. ‘Ye Mudda Kyun Nahi’ is another show raising issues affecting people, but not in elections. The channel is also running a special show, ‘Voter Bike’, for young voters. 

Apart from the on-air integrations, News Nation also conducted number of conclaves under the property called ‘Sammelan’, which are all election related. Theme of the most recent event which took place at Taj Mahal Hotel, Delhi was ‘Ram Raksha aur Rashtrawaad’. The election sponsors also get good mileage through these events. 

With the rapidly changing media environment, the news viewing audience is also on a growth trajectory. In this scenario, viewership depends upon the innovative content offered by the broadcasters. For India News, the viewership has been quite satisfactory in terms of numbers. 

Speaking about the programming on elections, Kartikeya Sharma, Founder and Promoter of iTV Network, shared, “Elections clearly drive a strong spike in viewership of news channels. Through engaging properties, we promise to make the election coverage more exciting and captivating for our viewers. We are geared to present extensive ground reports from the polling states.” 

The news channels are seeing good amount of interest from the advertisers as the brands are coming from across categories like FMCG, E-commerce, BFSI, Hosiery, Building material, etc. According to Dhawan, IPL has not affected the viewership of pre-election coverage, “The general elections is a 5-year phenomenon and we only expect an increase in viewership as we move closer to the polling dates,” he added. 

News18 Network has planned an extensive programming which will be telecast in 15 different languages across 26 states and will span more than 3,700 hours with over 200 shows and segments. 

Avinash Pandey, CEO, ABP News Network, insisted that the news genre is on an all time high and hence, IPL has not been able to make any major dent. 

As a prologue to the Lok Sabha Elections 2019, ABP News Network has already rolled out its aggressive programming line-up well in advance. The focus is on fact-based election programming by investing heavily in research. Around the middle of last year, ABP News Network started a programme called ‘Desh Ka Mood’, which is basically a monthly opinion poll undertaken at a national level. The ABP spokesperson claimed that ABP News was the first to start the 2019 election programming at the beginning of 2018 with its programme called ‘2019’. “Keeping our focus on a lot of innovation and content creativity when it comes to ground reporting, our aggressive programming line-up for ABP News includes Election bulletins, ‘Seedha Sawal’ – our on-ground debates, ‘Siyasat Ka Sensex’, ‘Desh Ka Mood’, ‘Election Viral’, and ‘2019 ke Joshiley’. to name a few. This time, we are also doing a detailed seat projection for big states like UP, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Bihar, etc., that contribute to almost 50 per cent of the Lok Sabha seats. We have also added – ‘Vansh’ – a unique show around political families/ dynasties like Gandhis, Yadavs hosted by Kumar Vishwas, ‘Bahubali’ – a programme around influential politicians who have left an indelible impact in Indian politics hosted by ‘Sansani’ host Shrivardhan Trivedi,” the spokesperson added. 

For NewsX, there are a series of election news shows under the umbrella branding of “Who’s Winning 2019?” Shows like ‘No Holds Barred’, ‘Roundtable’, ‘Policy and Politics’ and ‘Cover Story’ focus on covering exclusive interviews of top politicians, debates with senior leaders on critical issues, elections agendas and narratives on top politicians. These apart, NewsX is also conducting Polstrat Snap survey addressing the key factors impacting the general elections 2019. 

For News18 Network, shows such as ‘Youngistan’ and ‘The Women Vote’ will put a special focus on the youth and women voters of the country in order to ensure that their voice doesn’t go unheard and special shows like ‘Kings and Queens’ and ‘Election Yatra’ will showcase the top leaders who will determine the outcome of Elections 2019. 

ABP News Network has employed next generation innovations to revolutionise the election analysis. An innovative 360-degree set-up has been installed to help viewers understand the ground zero of the election across India. All ABP News Network channels – ABP News, ABP Asmita, ABP Majha, ABP Ananda – are focusing on election coverage starting from monthly polls to youth debates and exclusive shows to gauge the on-ground sentiments of voters across the country. 

News Nation has managed to lock the election deals with advertisers in advance. Talking about the last week’s viewership numbers, Abhay Ojha President - Sales & Marketing, News Nation Network, said, “We have seen that 60 per cent of content duration in the Hindi News genre is devoted to the Lok Sabha Elections related news and almost an equal contribution of eyeballs are being achieved from it. News Nation viewership also follows the genre trend, plus there are exclusive shows and conclaves dedicated specifically to Lok Sabha Elections.”

Avinash Pandey, CEO, ABP News Network added, “Advertiser response has been phenomenal, we are already working with some high value companies across diverse segments. Media advertisers’ ever-growing interest in spending on television ads has made this medium poised for a substantial growth in revenue generation, on the back of FMCG, automobile, consumer goods, mobile handset and telecom. This has helped leverage the expected increase in news channel viewership via targeted rural, election-related advertising.”

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