New Delhi: English news channels across the country recorded a 5.4-fold increase in their viewership on 18 December, compared to the previous Monday, the day results for the state assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh were declared.
While English news channels recorded 1.5 million impressions, Hindi news channels saw a 2.2 times jump from the week-ago period at 245 million impressions, according to data from the television ratings agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (Barc) India.
Impressions refer to the number of individuals in thousands of a target audience who view an event, averaged across minutes.
“These were high-interest states and the numbers show the importance of such events among the audiences. Secondly, the viewership depends on how a particular channel is covering the election; some players are able to get better eyeballs than others. It’s about how on-ground, real time and appealing the reporting is," said Ashish Bhasin, chairman and chief executive, Dentsu Aegis Network South Asia.
The data cited above includes six English news channels, among them Republic TV, Times Now, NDTV 24x7, and nine Hindi news channels, among them Aaj Tak, ABP News and News 24. The Republic TV, led by Arnab Goswami, recorded the highest jump of 9 times in viewership on account of election results.
“The Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh elections were our first election coverage as Republic. We enjoyed a massive time spent of 22 minutes per viewer in mega cities, which is three times more than our next competitor. Elections are a true test for a democracy and also a big test of credibility for a news platform," said Vikas Khanchandani, chief executive officer at Republic, adding that the channel had a viewership share of 50% in cities with population of more than 1 million on the day of election results.
However, the viewership of news channels during December election results was lower than the March state assembly elections, when five states had gone to polls.
State assembly election results for Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur and Punjab in March 2017 had recorded a viewership of 1.9 million impressions (for English news channels) and 368 million impressions (for Hindi news channels).
Himachal Pradesh had gone to polls on 9 November. The polling for the two-phase Gujarat election seats took place on 9 and 14 December, and votes were counted on 18 December. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) retained power in Gujarat for a record sixth term and wrested Himachal Pradesh from the Congress.