The Media Industry: Lifting the Curtain: The Media Industry and the Changing Landscape

The development of television news is as important a milestone for mankind as the postal system which provided the first evidence of global communication. The TV news industry has become prominent, expanding its reach into every home through televisions in recent years. In 2020, news channels accounted for 43% of the total channels registered in India. Moreover, in the same year, the viewership of the news genre was 10.4%, third after GEC and movies and saw a 43% increase in viewership during the first 26 weeks in 2020, compared to the corresponding period in 2019. However, the composition and mechanism of the presentation do not The TV news industry remains unexplored. Therefore, the article attempts to understand the television news industry and its composition which is a complex intersection of multiple forces, often involving rivalry and agreement with one another.

Shedding light on the TV news industry is important as it helps to understand the structure of the industry as well as shows how the industry operates. On a large scale, the television news industry is a complex web of various intersecting forces. The TV news industry is very competitive and various TV channels across Hindi, English and other languages ​​are a competition among the existing competitors. The competition between these news channels is to get more viewers to be interested in their channel and the industry is determined by the intense competition for viewership. The “audience” of these news channels constitutes the power of the buyers. However, besides viewers, advertisers have become one of the most important forces as buyers in the industry that influence the mechanism of the industry as well as the content that is being broadcast. Revenue is generated in the industry through advertising. However, the ads depend on the viewership of these news channels. As a result, a virtuous cycle of advertisers and viewers driving the television industry is created.

Advertising is one of the most important components of the television news industry. Although the “buyers” within the industry are made up of the viewers or audience of these news channels, the discord between these news channels still attracts more audiences to attract more advertising to generate revenue. Recently, with the media industry spread across the country, attracting more high priced advertisements has ranked first in the industry. According to TAM AdEX, in 2020, the News category topped the list with 31% share of ad volume followed by the General Entertainment Channels (GEC) category with 27%. Hindi news remained the second best language type in terms of ad volumes and its share of ad volume increased to 6%. Therefore, higher viewership becomes important to attract more ads as media agencies and advertisers look for viewership data and general trends when they buy commercial time on news channels. However, it has been argued that viewership data is not the defining force behind advertising revenue, and that pricing is dependent on other factors such as channel branding, quality, distributor demand and reputation built over the years. However, viewing data remains an essential component of ad identification.

With the changing digital landscape in India, news channels are expanding their reach from TV screens via DTH to mobile phones, tablets and laptops through digital channels as well as programming on YouTube and Facebook. Not only did the news channels make live broadcasts of their channels on OTTs and YouTube, but now the online channels and exclusive content are also available to the digital audience. According to the FICCI-EY Media and Entertainment Report issued in March 2021, the number of online news audience grew to 450 million in 2020. India has the second largest digital population in the world with 468 million and time spent online increased by 32% in 2020. In 2020, online news had the widest reach of 454 million users across mobile and desktop users of news sites, portals and aggregators compared to 450 million users of online entertainment. In addition, downloads of online news and magazine apps increased in 2020 by 12%, which indicates the shift from newspapers and television as news sources to digital platforms.

Now the question arrives – with the rapid expansion of the news channel industry, how does the industry keep abreast of how a particular organization is performing in the industry? This is done through a television rating system, where an agency measures the performance and viewing of various news channels. The TV rating system has the potential to influence the structure of the TV news industry. This rating system greatly influences the ad volumes that news channels attract. Notably, watching news channels is now divided between different spectra, from DTH to online platforms. However, the rating system only rates DTH viewership with a limited sample size, without keeping up with the rapidly changing landscape and nature of the TV news industry. Thus, it becomes necessary to have an unbiased classification system mechanism that is not ignorant of the changing scenarios. Rather than a rating agency having such enormous power and ability to distort the fair competitive market. The situation requires the TV news channel industry to wake up and find a new way to evaluate its performance, keeping pace with the pace of expansion of its industry.

Amit Kapoor is President of the Institute of Competitiveness India and a visiting scholar and lecturer at Stanford University. Akshay Bambri is Director of Research at the Institute of Competitiveness in India and a PhD Fellow at Harvard Winching Institute.

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