New Delhi: Indian viewers have voted overwhelmingly for cricket.
And the loser has been politics.
A study, done over a four- week period beginning 5 April and ending 2 May, shows that the Indian Premier League (IPL), the Twenty20 (T20) cricket tournament currently being played in South Africa, attracted the most television viewers in the first three weeks after its launch compared with the previous week.
Star attraction: Ashish Nehra of Delhi Daredevils (left) celebrates after the dismissal of Kolkata Knight Riders’ Brad Hodge (right) during the IPL T20 cricket tournament match in Johannesburg on Sunday. Mike Hutchings / Reuters
The most badly hit were news channels whose viewership fell 33% in the three weeks ended 2 May compared with the previous week—before the IPL was under way.
The decline in viewership of news channels is surprising given that the country is currently in the last lap of the general election. Voting started on 16 April and the process will end on 13 May. The results will be declared on 16 May.
While IPL is being broadcast by MAX, the movies and events channel of Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd, the elections are being covered in detail by at least 65 news channels across the country.
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The study, conducted by Maxus, one of the media buying agencies of GroupM India Pvt. Ltd, shows that in the week ended 11 April, news channels had a total viewership share of 3.3%. This declined to 2.9% and 2.6% in the next two weeks, respectively and by the end of the fourth week, it had fallen to 2.3%.
Elections are crucial for news channels in terms of viewership as well as advertising revenue.
A senior executive at a news channel, however, said that the decline in viewership had not affected advertising revenue. “The revenue for news channels over the past month and a half has seen more than significant growth. If that is an indication, certainly IPL has had no effect on the news genre,” said Barun Das, chief executive officer, Zee News Ltd.
Channels in other genres such as Hindi general entertainment, the biggest on the television in terms of both viewers and advertising revenue, and Hindi movies also lost viewers to IPL. The viewership share of Hindi general entertainment channels declined from 23.3% in the week ended 11 April to 20.1% in the week ended 2 May, the study shows.
Likewise, the viewership for Hindi movies dropped from 6.5% to 5.8%. Music and kids channels also saw a decline in their viewership share during this period.
And MAX has been the direct beneficiary of others’ loss. The channel’s viewership share grew at least 40% during this period. In the week ended 11 April when there was no IPL, MAX’s viewership share was only 3.5%. It rose to 6% in the first week of IPL, to 15% in the second week and to 17.2% in the third week.
IPL’s television rating points (TRPs), which indicate the total percentage of viewers watching a programme at a given point in time, this year have been lower than the previous year. According to TAM Media Research, the Mumbai-based audience measurement agency, IPL’s average TRPs in the first two weeks of its launch dipped from 4.81% in 2008 to 4.32% this year.
“The cumulative reach of IPL is higher this year, but the overall rating has dropped and this is true for the rest of the genres, too, because of the fragmentation in media...there is just a lot more to choose from even in comparison to last year,” said Priti Murthy, national director, Insights at Maxus.
The data for the study was collated during peak cricket viewing hours across cable and satellite households with viewers above 15 years of age.