What Rajdeep Sardesai's exit has done to CNN-IBN: it gets more viewers

Latest TAM data show the channel has only gained after elections, proving doomsayers wrong

GN BUREAU | July 18, 2014


Ratings for ‘India at 9’, Sardesai’s signature show, have increased by 13% post-elections, compared to pre-election time.
Ratings for ‘India at 9’, Sardesai’s signature show, have increased by 13% post-elections, compared to pre-election time.

TV journalism has its own strange ways that defy the popular wisdom. A popular anecdote – a true story at many newsrooms – goes thus: top editors at a TV channel are worried as the annual jamboree in the name of brainstorming comes closer. They have worked hard to get higher TRPs for the channel, using their wisdom and experience, and now as they go abroad to do some forward planning with the management team, what would happen to the TRPs in their absence? When they return from the foreign shores and check the figures, they are shocked and surprised in equal measure to find that the ratings have not only not fallen but have improved somewhat.

The popular wisdom, even within the industry, is that it is the faces who bring eyeballs, and hence the branding of the anchors. Thus, Arnab Goswami would be considered a brand bigger than Times Now, and Rajdeep Sardesai’s departure from CNN-IBN would mean shutters will be downed at that channel – at least Sardesai’s fans said something to that effect on social media and elsewhere.

They are in for a surprise, however. The latest data from TAM, the industry benchmark, call the bluff of the anchor-centric model. For the new owners of the channel, Sardesai’s departure has been a blessing in disguise. CNN-IBN’s average weekly ‘absolute viewership’ (TVTs) have increased by 8% after elections, compared to the time before elections, helping the channel increase its relative share of viewership from 19% pre-elections to 20% post-elections.

Not only that, even during the prime time of 9-10 pm, when Sardesai used to anchor his signature show, there is a marked improvement instead of a fall: the average weekly TVTs during this hour have increased by 13% post-elections, compared to pre-election time. This means the relative viewership share during this hour has gone up from 14% before elections to 18% now.

[The pre-election period is week 1 to week 13 of this year, whereas the post-election period is week 22 to week 27 of 2014.]

Of course, if there is any adverse effect of Sardesai’s exit, it is seen in the six metros. Here, the average weekly TVTs have declined by 15% post-elections, resulting in a drop in its relative share from 19% to 17%. As for the prime time of 9-10 pm, the average weekly TVTs have declined – albeit marginally, by 0.7% – during the post-election phase compared to pre-elections.

Yet, CNN-IBN’s relative share here has only increased – from 13% to 17%.

Also, the fact remains that CNN-IBN had seen a significant spike in relative shares across all market groups during elections which it has not been able to sustain after elections.

For Reliance, which now owns of Network 18, there is good news from other channels of the group. On the eventful budget day, CNBC TV18 attracted 67% of the viewers, leaving ET Now far behind (22%), not to mention NDTV Profit (11%), and Bloomberg TV (1%).

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