What about Rajdeep Sardesai and Barkha Dutt, the two other news colossus of our times whom Arnab has left behind in a trail of dust and noise? They get merely 0.03% of viewers tuning into their show. Clearly, disproportionate to the level of abuse and trolling they get on Twitter, but then when did trolls ever need to watch the news to comment on its content?
Those amongst you, the naysayers, will perhaps say, how on Earth can we ever determine the viewership of a country the size of India? The truth is, the sample size of 22,000 TV meters is robust enough.
Let’s assume first that Arnab is primarily an urban, English-speaking phenomenon and hence he’s likely to be watched in 50+ cities with 1 million plus population.
To ensure that the 77.5 million homes are adequately represented, a little over 2500 TV meters will accurately give you 95% of the population mean viewership numbers. We have well over 2500 meters now. The potential margin of error is quite low (<1%). But let’s assume that is actually over 10%. That gives Arnab a potential audience reach of approximately 200,000.
200,000. Let this number stay with you
That’s how big is the nation – a tiny drop in the TV viewing audience. Truth is, there’s an obvious limit to Arnab’s viewership, but seemingly none to his influence.
Which brings me to another fascinating part of this story. Now, even as I was in the middle of this research, I was told, Arnab is not a TV phenomena. You need to work harder. The amplification which he gets on social media is the real reason why he is so popular. For instance, this person said, Arnab has been trending on Facebook for three days since he quit. “If you notice 50, 000+ people are talking about him,” he said. “He is not even on Facebook but he is trending. This is the audience which is not watching Newshour but knows about him and is talking about him. What you need is social media amplification data.”
Fair point. So, I reached out to Meltwater India, a media intelligence company which provides media monitoring and social media monitoring data. Meltwater looked into it, and remember, Arnab is not on Twitter and Facebook. The insights below are from social media. Primarily Twitter: 94%. Facebook: 2.17%. Youtube: 1.58%. Comments: 1.08%. Forums: 0.79%. Blogs: 0.45%.
Question 1: How popular are Arnab Goswami and Times Now on social media? How often is Arnab trending?
The graphs below are a keyword analysis of the conversations in social media around Arnab Goswami with Newshour (graph 1), mentions of Arnab with Times Now (graph 2) and Arnab Goswami’s overall social chatter (graph3). These are actual mentions.
There’s not much chatter around Arnab and Newshour. Or Arnab and Times Now. So, it doesn’t look like people are actually watching the show. Arnab’s individual mentions are far higher, maybe because people talk about him to fight the good fight as a journalist or also, simple caricature value.
Question 2: How popular is Arnab Goswami on social media, relative to Rajdeep Sardesai or Rahul Kanwal? Or someone like Barkha Dutt?
The graph below depicts the share of journalists’ voices in percentages (graph1) and media exposure depicting the numbers (graph2).
In actual mentions, Barkha Dutt is far ahead of Arnab. Is that a factor of trolling? Quite likely.
Question 3: What are the conversations around Arnab like? I mean, what are people saying? Can we get an idea on the number of people tweeting about Arnab or Newshour between let’s say 9 PM to 10:30 PM?
The data below has the content stream depicting the nature of the conversation, the sentiment, and the tweets by time of the day.
Chatter does seem to go through the roof at 8 PM. But there’s nothing special about the Newshour slot.
Looking at the data and trends, where do we stand with respect to our original question? A very small, rather minuscule, percentage of people constitute ‘the nation’ in the ‘nation wants to know’. English news has very low viewership. And the nation that Arnab speaks about doesn’t go beyond urban India, beyond the posh living rooms, where the posh working professionals live. Social media is a valuable addition to his persona but seems like it has little to do with the Newshour. It amplifies his persona by polarising people — those who agree with his fire-breathing style and use it as part of their “country-first” narrative, and those who find the entire thing meme-worthy.