Times Now has become the number one English channel once again. Within a week of being unseated by India Today television (the erstwhile Headlines Today), the leader has jumped back to its position according to Broadcast Audience Research Council or (BARC) data released on Thursday evening. BARC now releases data based on individuals and not households and therefore the numbers are different from what the paper carried last week.
On TAM Media Research numbers Times Now has remained the top English news channel on ratings though India Today TV had beaten it on reach. "Eventually any news channel can only win on content and nobody can match Times Now on content," proclaims Arnab Goswami, president news and editor-in chief for ET Now and Times Now. The channel is a part of the Times Television Network, which in turn is housed within the estimated Rs 7,000-crore Times Group, one of India's largest media firms.
The English news genre is a miniscule 0.04 of all time spent on TV by India's 800 million plus viewers. But this shuffling and chest-beating is a regular feature because it impacts ad rates in the Rs 2,000 crore news television industry that is completely ad dependent.
India Today TV became number one on a strategy that rests largely on ramping up distribution using dual frequency - being on two spots on the same cable network. The Rs 476 crore TV Today Network was on two spots on 70 cable networks in the week that it hit number one. This means paying a premium of 50 per cent over and above the Rs 18-21 crore in carriage fees that a news channel pays every year. It is therefore not sustainable. The effect of the higher reach is more sampling. So while viewers have looked at the new India Today TV, they are not necessarily spending more time on it. Times Now still clocks twice the time that India Today TV does.
What helped Times Now bounce back is using the same distribution tactic as India Today TV - dual frequency. Times Now was on a dual frequency on 53 cable networks last week against 29 in the week it lost its position according to Chrome Data Analytics and Media. Both the channels are locked in an ad war over the numbers.