English news channels have 0.4% viewership!

Cynics and critics of the media cannot stop bad-mouthing the English news channels and their shrieking, shouting, table-thumping, finger-wagging anchors. They lambast Barkha Dutt and Rajdeep Sardesai and Arnab Goswami, accusing them of being everything from trivial to sensational to anti-national.

Opinion makers and talking heads from politicians to penpushers move heaven, earth and everything else in between to appear on the English news channels. Advertisers drop everything else to flock to them. Viewers cannot stop accusing them of everything that is wrong with the country short of the monsoon. Yet….

Yet, is this all futile?

Using data collated by the television audience measurement agency (TAM), Archna Shukla of the Indian Express reports that this could all be very misplaced. That, despite its growing social and rural acceptance, English news channels boast of such a minuscule viewership that it probably does not even count.

From a snapshot of television consumption in India in the Sunday Indian Express:

1. There are 134 million households which own television sets in India; 70 million are in rural areas, 64 million in urban India

2. India is the world’s second largest broadcast market in viewership base as well as the total number of channels (500)

3. An average Indian watches television for two and a half hours a day, South Indians are glued to the idiot box for longer

4. There are more news channels (81 and counting) than general entertainment channels

5. News and current affairs channels has 7.5% viewership share; GECs have 51%.

6. Hindi has 43% reach and audience; the regional language channels put together account for 37%

7. Hindi speaking market is larger but South Indians watch TV for longer, spending close to three hours a day

8. English channels, news and otherwise, gets only 11% of viewership share

9. English news channels have a 0.4 per cent viewership

10. Men watch sports, news and movie channels; women watch soaps and serials

Read the full story: How India watches television

Television in India