News channels are ramping up their coverage for the upcoming state assembly and general elections to make the most of the six-month mega political event both in terms of revenue and viewership.
The assembly elections, which will immediately follow the festive season, are expected to be a double treat for the news genre. The news channels are hopeful of increased political and government advertising as soon as FMCG and auto ads dry up at the end of the festive season.
“Elections have mostly coincided with festivals. We can safely assume they will only complement each other and will help us generate more revenue,” said Avinash Pandey, COO, ABP News Network.
Joy Chakraborthy, CEO-Forbes India and President, Revenue, TV18, sees elections after Diwali as a bonus for the news genre.
“Post Diwali, there is always a lull and advertisers take a break. These elections are happening at a perfect time and will give us an opportunity to generate revenue even after the Diwali festivities are over,” he said.
Ashish Sehgal, COO, Zee Unimedia and Chief Growth Officer (Advt. Revenue), Zeel, said, “There is enough demand in the market. Advertisers are willing to pay for quality content, be it in-depth news analysis or an entertaining Diwali show. Elections have always garnered high viewership, irrespective of the period. So, despite Diwali being one of the biggest festivals celebrated in India, advertisers do not want to miss the bus on elections, which can be encashed fully after the festive period as election campaigning should be on till December 2.”
News channels usually struggle to fill their inventories in a lull period immediately after earning a certain premium during the festive season. But the elections are likely to push the viewership of news channels up by at least 25% and advertisers would be willing to shell out an extra buck to reach out to the expanded audience.
“We feel brands will pay extra premium as it is all about being present at the right place at the right time and what better place to be present than ABP, which lives and breathes elections,” Pandey said.
Chakraborthy said, “Historically and also now with high viewership in news channels, brands have been paying a premium for these kinds of activities, specifically for elections — be it state or general elections. For a network like ours, which is geographically present across the country and is a leading news network in India today, it becomes imperative for brands to pay a premium.”
One of the leading news broadcasters, Network18 is expecting at least 22% growth by the end of the current fiscal.
Sehgal said, “We have overall seen good traction on government and political ads, especially in states where assembly elections are due in the upcoming months — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. We are confident that this will positively affect our current fiscal year ad revenues and contribute to a healthy P&L overall.”
“We are confident that we will be able to maximise revenue given the healthy demand we are witnessing from the corporate and government sector,” he added.
Pandey said, “We are expecting a jump in revenue, keeping in mind that the market is stable and healing from the after-effects of demonetisation and GST. A total of eight state elections are lined up followed by the general elections in 2018-19, which will witness a lot of political and corporate advertising. This combination of political and corporate advertising is pushing the ad rates up and news channels are poised for substantial revenue generation.”
The programming push
Viewers just don’t want to gulp news and spot coverage but also expect in-depth analysis with facts and figures so that they can understand the dynamics prevailing in the election season.
ABP is coming up with programmes such as Desh Ka Mood, Siyasat ka Sensex and Kaun Banega Mukhyamantri. The channel believes these shows will provide not just a holistic perspective but also content that is curated carefully for discerning viewers.
ABP’s Pandey said, “We have always been the pioneer when it comes to delivering innovative and trend-setting content complemented with extensive editorial coverage. Our programmes act as a barometer to check the changing dynamics of the voting process and seat share, providing our viewers with the most updated insights.”
Zee Network, with a focus to increase on-ground audience engagement this year, has planned to telecast programmes like Pariwar ki Baat — a door-to -door visit to talk to different families in order to know the actual issues and mood of general public from all age group of voters, Chunavi Thali — where viewpoints will be gathered from food points like college campuses, local food streets, fitness centres and Chunavi Choupal — a forum where the local spokesperson or representative of the political party is invited to interact with the people and discuss the local issues and progress during their tenure, etc.
Commenting on Network18’s programming, Chakraborthy said, “Since we have consolidated our position as the leading news network in the country with channels across states and languages, we are coming up with multiple engagement-driven shows and formats, specifically designed for news consumers for these elections. Our programming line-up is much larger than the previous time.”