Perspective | What's on TV this election season...?

As the biggest democracy of world gets ready for the election drama, businesses in India across sections too are gearing themselves for the same. The mega exercise by government machinery, brings in the forefront the best and sometimes the strangest acts of participants of the exercise. But off all the businesses, its big season for the news media business! While all the political parties have been rolling out their respective campaigns and following push and pull strategy to get their vote banks ringing, broadcast media, specifically television news channels have begun rolling out their plans to collect maximum eyeballs in the on-going election run-up. As with every elections, news channels play a vital role and go through rigorous planning to get the right coverage, at the right time which helps in building brand name for the channel and increasing it's viewership numbers.   

In this special Adgully Perspective, we bring together domain experts to know that as the General Election 2014 is predicted to be big in terms of awareness and therefore the media coverage would be big, what are the new things on the planning front to showcase as a channel and to woo the audience? We got some industry experts on board to share their thoughts on how they plan to market their election special coverage (pre-election and post-election) and what are the marketing tactics they are betting on to attract the audience? Also, what according to them will be the surge in the number of viewers for their channel and more.

Our experts include Vikram Chandra, Group CEO, NDTV, Alok Agrawal, CEO, Zee News, Ravindra Ambekar, Editor-in-Chief, Mi Marathi, Ritu Dhawan, MD & CEO, India TV, Vinay Tewari, Managing Editor, CNN-IBN & IBN7 and Waahiid Ali Khan, 

Entrepreneur and  Consulting Editorial Director, Sahana group.

Chandra stated, “This is probably one of the most exciting elections there’s been in India. Many people think this is an election with a difference as there are couple of very different kind of candidates. No one knows amongst these popular parties who’s actually going to win the elections as all our doing some or the other thing which are there in the news, so the next two months are going to be big for news channels.”

“I think this year’s election is going to be big and so does its coverage; right from coverage of constituencies, analysis of issues and content to results and post-election debates. We have our flagship program titled Bharat Bhagya Vidhata which is a Zee Media initiative that aims to redefine the political agenda of the country", said Agarwal on channels line up for the 

election season.

Talking about Mi Marathi’s line up, Ambekar said, “We already have two of our flagship shows - Mat De Yaar and Khurchi Ki Mirchi. Both the shows are focused majorly youth. With these shows, we shall be meeting people to know their political issues, where we would be covering about 40 key issues which the people of India are suffering from. Our programming is planned around our message to our viewers, which is "your vote is your might'".

“Under the umbrella brand of “Faisla Kursi Ka, Chairman & Editor-in-chief, Rajat Sharma of India TV will be leading the charge by introducing a special election series of Aap Ki Adalat. The show will be done from a different city every week under the title Aap Ki Adalat mein Faisla Kursi Ka. Aap ki Adalat’s regular series too 

will continue with a political flavour. The programming line-up also includes shows like, Yeh Public hai Sab Janti Hai, a show from different constituencies of top leaders & front-runners which will cover every crucial happening related to elections. Delhi- Darbar a series on the different political parties of India, Sitare Zameen Par, which will cover the star power being put into elections by various political parties. Vansh is yet another special that will decode dynastic politics. These are just some of the shows, there are many more in our election bundle", elaborated, Dhawan. Adding further she said, “To further lead the charge celebrated personalities like – Kabir Bedi, Mahesh Bhatt, Hemant Pandey, Om Puri, Meghna Malik, Piyush Mishra & Dilip Tahil to name a few, in their distinctive styles will present our discerning viewership with a wholesome information experience in the most engaging way”.

In his contribution to the discussion, Tewari said, “With a high 

percentage of first time voters, change in campaign styles and emergence of a presidential style of contest, this General Election 2014 is perhaps the most complex and crucial elections ever. To do justice to the scale of the upcoming elections, we have a very extensive and exhaustive line up of programming. It will involve multi-media and cross media approaches as information access is now about multiple platforms. 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 like the history of elections in India and performance of MPs across the country. The one big differentiator for us will be that we will majorly focus on reaching out to people at large through highly interactive platforms. As this election is all about people, we will be enabling them to share their thoughts and engage with the show seamlessly”.

“We are seeing lots of viewer attraction already and also, this is going to be first major elections where online traffic will be attributing a lot and hence it’s looking like online elections. So, on our online property also we are seeing big surges of traffic already and that’s something we are working hard on. There are lots of specific shows we are doing on television which are election-centric; there are some big opinion polls that we did in March which had the largest sample size in India, as in India to predict anything you need adequate sample size. We’ll keep rolling on other shows with time and the election results day is going to be a big day for all of us", explained Chandra.

Aggarwal stated that, Zee News plans to do in-studio programming and outdoor marketing and is expecting 15-20 % increase in viewership with the content generation.

Ambekar added that, “We as a news channel are not focusing on increasing sale in terms of business with the election season but we aim to create more awareness amongst youth. As all the 

parties are focusing on youth, so are we!”

“A noteworthy surge has already been recorded in the news genre ever since the political scenario has begun hotting-up from mid of last year. Riding on the common man’s budding political interest and latent want for a change in the country’s governance paradigm, the news viewership has experienced the increase of around 17%. Elections, this time are arguably the biggest personality-driven ones, which has definitely added spice. Thus we are sure that the spike story will continue. A 360 degree marketing campaign will be rolled out in all the substantial Hindi-speaking markets like  - Delhi, Mumbai, UP, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, MP, Himachal, Haryana etc. An integrated marketing campaign during elections has been carved out utilizing various mediums such as – Outdoor, Transit, Ambient, OOH, Print, Magazines, Newspapers, Web & social etc. Social media engagement programs in terms of special contests etc. based on elections & politics will be employed to connect with the audiences further. All these initiatives will most definitely be linked to our programming. But we are sure, once it is out, it will be one of the most significant marketing campaigns done on election programming by any news channel”, said a confident Dhawan.

Today, as technology is growing massively with time, the coverage patterns of news has also improved. While a lot of channels are involved and use survey method but, Khan is of the opinion that its not be done. "All the news channels have already rolled out their campaigns and strongly working on their election based shows. Talking about political parties, they are using up linking facilities to keep news channels updated with the content. With the election, there is a lot of new experimentation that happens on social and digital platforms too!”, he said.

“The viewership of television news channels gets a massive spike during elections in India across various TGs and it clearly reflects from the viewership pattern of the past elections. We look forward to continue our leadership once again during this upcoming General Election 2014. Our marketing efforts will focus a lot on interactivity, audience participation and engagement to the best way possible. To facilitate this we will fully leverage our network strength to promote our shows, which will be supported and amplified through a 360 degree campaign. We intend to target key markets including the metros, HSM etc. through multiple mediums including print, outdoor and radio. We are also heavily promoting our shows through our various digital platforms including our Web18 properties and our presence on Facebook and Twitter, where we are connected to almost 2 million individuals", said Tewari.

As our experts have shared their respective opinions on how they are planning to focus on the a month long election fever, it shall also be interesting to see how with political parties fighting their way to the top, how news channels struggle it out to hold the top seat!

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