Obama India Visit Boosts Local TV Numbers

Three-Day Visit Included State Dinner with Aamir Khan

NEW DELHI -- U.S. President Barack Obama's three-day India visit which concluded Monday boosted viewership for both English and Hindi news channels here.

According to research data from Audience Measurement and Analytics Ltd., the prime-time market share of Hindi news channels rose 25% on Sunday November 7 compared to the previous Sunday, while viewership of English news channels went up by 44% in the top six metropolitan areas for the same age group.

The non-stop coverage of President Obama and wife Michelle's first state visit to India had been building up days before his arrival in Mumbai on Saturday afternoon, but according to aMap, viewership of Hindi general entertainment channels remained unaffected by Obama coverage on news channels.

However, Hindi film channels saw a 7% decline on Sunday over the same period last week, while English niche channel viewership dropped by as much as 67% across the top six metropolitan areas, as news channels covered every move of the Obamas, whose itinerary concluded with official functions in Delhi.

On Sunday night, an official dinner for the Obamas was hosted in Delhi by prime minister Manmohan Singh, where select guests included leading public figures and Bollywood celebrities. Among those present were superstar Aamir Khan, veteran actress Shabana Azmi and her husband screenwriter and poet Javed Akhtar. “President Obama said he has heard a lot about my work and my films,” Khan later told reporters, adding that Michelle Obama also said she had danced with children in Mumbai to the title song from Khan's 2006 film Rang De Basanti.

At another function in Mumbai, Michelle Obama was also seen dancing with children to traditional Marathi folk music for which she briefly managed to rope in her husband. 

Not surprisingly, news channels constantly played footage of Michelle's dancing skills with the media dubbing her the "dancing queen." In his address at Sunday's official dinner, Obama joked that on their trip to India "she (Michelle) has turned into a better dancer." Michelle also stole the spotlight with her fashion sense which also received heavy airplay and major print coverage.

Riding on the Obama wave, Big CBS – the recently announced joint venture between CBS Studios Inc. and Reliance Broadcast Network Ltd. – unfurled its launch campaign for its upcoming English entertainment channel Big CBS Prime.

Outdoor billboards showed the U.S. flag with the tag line “After you, Mr President” while the campaign's radio jingle promised not to steal the thunder out of the President's visit proclaiming, “There is so much to do and so little time for the President of the United States... so we decided not to divert his attention. That's why we are saying, after you Mr President.”

Reliance Broadcast Network senior vp marketing Anand Chakravarthy said, “All the media hype surrounding the President's visit only helps us cut through more effectively and get into our consumers' mind.”

President Obama left India Tuesday for Indonesia as part of his ongoing Asia tour which includes South Korea and Japan.