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News channels pull out all stops to cash in on General Election 2014

Channels like India TV, IBN Network, NDTV and News Nation have lined up special election programming for which they have tied up with advertisers

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | March 27, 2014

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The Mahakumbh of Indian politics, Lok Sabha elections, is here and not only are political parties at daggers drawn to consolidate their vote bank, but also news channels which are fighting it out for maximum viewership and moolah. In a bid to serve the appetite of election news hungry viewers, news channels have lined up special programming for which they have tied up with several advertisers.

Ritu Dhawan Ritu Dhawan

“With the nation’s interest soaring in news, it is obvious that additional revenues are already getting realised. We expect 20 to 35 per cent additional revenues on a fairly high YoY base of a non-election year,” said Ritu Dhawan, MD & CEO, India TV.

To cash in on the election fever, IBN network has already tied up with a wide array of advertisers for their election specials. “We already have several partners on board including Hero as the Presenting sponsor, Greenlam as the Powered by sponsor and Ajnara as the Co-presenting sponsor. We also have Lloyds, Nerolac and Sensodyne associated with our shows.  Many of our partners on elections are engaged with us long-term and our relationship with them will sustain much beyond elections,” said Vinay Tewari, Managing Editor, CNN-IBN and IBN7.

Shailesh Kumar Shailesh Kumar

The newest channel on the block, News Nation, is also expecting a turnaround with the big event in the second year of its operations. News Nation CEO Shailesh Kumar said, “With an umbrella property, ‘Aap Ka Vote, Aap Ki Sarkar’, News Nation is expecting good revenues from elections and is looking forward at higher growth post elections.”

India TV with sizeable investment on special programming is hoping to surge ahead of other channels in terms of viewership and revenue. “Riding on our innovative line-up for elections coupled with the marketing efforts, we will definitely attract many more serious news viewers to sample India TV. With the type of news delivery India TV viewers are being exposed to, viewers will unquestionably stay with us even post election, and the growth trajectory will continue to surge ahead,” said Dhawan.

India TV is reinventing its existing programming line-up this election season with an array of new show formats. For an example, India TV’s flagship show ‘Aap ki Adalat’ with Rajat Sharma will visit different cities every week under the title ‘Aap ki Adalat Mein Faisla Kursi ka’ while Aap ki Adalat’s regular series too will continue with a political flavour. Other new initiatives for the elections are ‘Yeh Public hai Sab Janti hai’, ‘Delhi Darbar’, ‘Sitare Zameen Par’ and ‘Vansh’.

Vinay Tewari Vinay Tewari

IBN network has planned special documentaries, opinion polls and campaign trails with leaders. “Our current plans include opinion surveys, campaign trails with key leaders, special documentaries and profiles of major leaders, polling day and counting day specials as well as interesting segments on a variety of topics from the history of elections in India to performance of MPs across the country. We specifically also have shows that will be highly interactive in their format – which will allow common citizens to directly participate in the discussion on elections on mainstream media,” said Tewari.

To reach the viewers, news channels have already started their 360-degree marketing campaigns. “The special efforts we are making in terms of programming demands a full blown 360-degree campaign. Through this we will be covering all substantial Hindi-speaking markets like Delhi, Mumbai, UP, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, MP, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, etc. TV, radio, outdoor, transit, ambient, OOH, print, magazines, newspapers, web and social media will be key mediums that will be utilised. We are currently working on finalising the mix right now. Once the campaign is out, it will prove to be one with an enviable decibel,” India TV’s Dhawan said.

Channels such as CNN-IBN and IBN 7 are banking upon their digital properties and social media networks for their marketing and viewer outreach campaigns.

“We will be focusing heavily on promoting our shows through our various digital platforms including our Web18 properties and the channels’ presence on Facebook and Twitter where we are connected to almost 2 million individuals. This would be especially relevant since we will be focusing a lot on interactivity and will be leveraging our digital touch-points to facilitate the same,” Tewari added.

News Nation has also geared up its election programming and has already rolled out its marketing campaign. “News Nation has done a special radio campaign revolving round the Lok Sabha elections and the campaign is still in process. Apart from these, News Nation is promoting its properties through other mediums targeting both mass and trade media,” said Shailesh Kumar.

Despite question marks on the credibility of opinion polls which had arisen after a sting operation, the channels are not averse to doing high adrenaline poll surveys, which fetch them maximum viewership and if proven, also get them credibility.

Aunindyo Chakravarty Aunindyo Chakravarty

“NDTV has been the pioneer in conducting opinion polls and is respected worldwide for it. Just because there are allegations against some polling agencies does not mean that the process of polling is inherently corrupt. It is like saying that just because there are quacks and corrupt doctors, no one should ever go to a doctor again!” said Aunindyo Chakravarty, Managing Editor, NDTV India. The channel is in the process of doing the largest ever opinion poll along with research agency Hansa where it is interviewing 2 lakh respondents across the country.

However, the channels, post the sting operation, have started disclosing their sampling methodology on their websites and are also explaining it during the broadcast. “We have always followed a very robust methodology for our opinion polls. We partner with the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, one of India’s foremost research institutions. CSDS has access to 40 years of proprietary data which forms the basis of our research methodology. Our sample size is arguably the largest in the industry, our sampling processes are truly representative and our research instruments are extremely robust. It is not surprising therefore that we have 95 per cent accuracy in our poll projection,” commented IBN’s Tewari.

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