Sky's the limit for ITV

MUMBAI: It was in July last year that ITV Media acquired News X, giving it a toehold in the English news space. Apart from News X, the ITV Network comprises one Hindi news channel - India News, and five regional channels.

For a while now, ITV has been busy strengthening the popularity and reach of News X and India News in a bid to get to the top of the news channels' pile.

As far as News X goes, it was only post the acquisition that its distribution improved. Today, all six metros and over one million markets can view the channel on both cable and DTH platforms. This apart, News X can also be availed on mobile TV platforms such as ZengaTV and NexGtv.

Programming-wise, the channel is witnessing significant changes with the focus increasingly shifting from debates and entertainment to hard news. To top it, the network is expanding its presence through both B2B and B2C platforms.

Both News X and India News have been on a hiring spree since earlier this year, roping in renowned journalists from competing channels to lead them.

News X recently consolidated its team by getting on board the likes of Rahul Shivshankar, Diptosh Majumdar and Raktim Das in key positions.

Whereas, Deepak Chaurasia, known for his election-based shows such as Kaun Banega Mukhyamantri and Kaun Banega Pradhanmantri on ABP News (formerly Star News) and Aaj Tak, was brought in as editor of India News earlier this year.

The idea behind hiring such journalists with years of experience behind them is that they come with dedicated viewers, who would watch a channel just to see their favourite anchor on the screen. Elaborates ITV Network CEO RK Arora: "In Hindi news channels, no journalist has such a high viewership as Deepak Chaurasia. This would lead to ardent followers coming and viewing our channel."

According to TAM data provided by the network, News X shows highs and lows in terms of viewership patterns between week 18 and week 36 while India News seems to have considerably gained mileage with week 36 docking in 29570 GVTs as compared to 9902 GVTs in week 31.

All said, both news channels have a long way to go before they can surpass benchmark creators like CNN-IBN, NDTV 24 x 7, Aaj Tak and ABP News among others.

Historically speaking, INX News (News X) was started by Peter Mukerjea and his wife Indrani, who subsequently sold it to IndiMedia following an unsuccessful attempt at running it. After which, it once again exchanged hands with ITV Media, owner of India News. The company is promoted by Kartikeya Sharma.

History or no history, the network seems bullish about sprucing up its two news channels. Just as well they may succeed some day...

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