A near-decisive victory for the United Progessive Alliance (UPA) in the 15th Lok Sabha may have been unexpected for everyone, but not so the “viewer turnout” for television channels on May 16, the day the results were declared.
Initial data provided by overnight viewership ratings agency Audience Measurement and Analytics Ltd (aMap) showed a 130 per cent jump in the average gross rating points (GRPs) of the leading Hindi news channels compared to the average GRP of the same day of the previous week. Even the English news channels saw about an 80 per cent increase in their GRPs over the same day of the previous week, the aMap report said.
The GRPs are the currency used by the advertisers to measure the popularity and reach of any television channel. A higher GRP indicates more viewership for a TV channel, that in turn determines advertising rates. GRPs are calculated by adding the television ratings generated by a channel during a 24-hour period.
Hindi news channel Aaj Tak emerged the leader in its genre, generating a GRP of 20.2, followed by STAR News (GRP of 17.2) and India TV (13.1 GRP). The aMap data covers cable viewers in the 15 years-plus age group. On an average day, Hindi news channels tend to get GRPs of 3 to 5.
Among the English news channels, NDTV 24x7 had the highest GRP of 3.7 followed by Times Now (3.6) and CNN-IBN (2.7). English news channels usually get an average GRP of around 1 or less on an average day. aMap is likely to bring out a detailed report on the election coverage by news channels soon.
“GRP figures were expected to jump on May 16 and they did because people were keen to see the political drama unfold,” said a senior media planner working in a leading agency in Gurgaon.
GRP data is also used to measure the popularity of news channels vis-a-vis programme ratings on general entertainment channels or a cricket match on a sports channel.
On May 16, perhaps unsurprisingly, general entertainment channels emerged the biggest loser. GRPs saw a dip of up to 29 per cent compared to the data a week ago. Although STAR Plus saw a 13 per cent growth in its GRP on May 16, others, including Zee TV, Sony, Colors, and NDTV Imagine, saw GRPs drop over the same day of the previous week.
Comparable viewership data and GRP numbers are not available for the counting day for the 14th Lok Sabha elections in 2004 because aMap was not operational then. Data by TAM, however, also showed a five-fold increase in the viewership of Hindi news channels on May 13, 2004, the day the results were declared, which was significantly higher than previous news events that channels covered around that time, like the terrorist attack on Parliament in 2002 or the September 11 terror attacks in New York.