NDTV looking to tap morning band, expand sports coverage

NEW DELHI: Having successfully established itself in both the English and Hindi language news markets, the two channels from the NDTV stable are now looking at tapping morning hours and genres like sports to create properties that would drive in more viewership.

"It's surprising, but the morning time between 8-9 am, which has almost as much viewership as 8-9 pm, has still not been fully exploited by the industry," NDTV managing editor Rajdeep Sardesai told in an interview today.

Though he did not divulge the exact nature of programming that would be unveiled by NDTV 24x7 and NDTV India to tap the morning segment more aggressively, Sardesai did admit that planning is on at the moment. "Watch the space for more information," he jokingly said, adding that the thinking at this stage is to see what would be the right mix of morning programming for the Indian 

According to Sardesai, in the West, especially in the US, the morning time band is treated like prime time and some of the highest paid anchors feature in the morning. "Now, should we also have news-dominated morning shows or not is something that the organisation is studying," he added.

Quoting from industry data, Sardesai said that in the English news channel segment, NDTV 24x7 is far ahead of others with a market share of about 45 per cent with the nearest rival being CNBC-TV 18 with about half the market share of the NDTV channel.

"It's quite satisfying to know that we are the market leaders (in the English news segment), but the idea is to have a dominant position that would be difficult to challenge," Sardesai said, adding, "and this could be done only through the right mix of good programming and distribution, though it is difficult to create hot properties in the news genre (unlike entertainment)."

A step in the direction to create good properties is to try plug the areas where competition draws viewership away and in NDTV 24x7 one of the initiatives is to have predominantly business programming throughout the day till 4 pm to counter CNBC-TV 18's viewer pulling powers.

However, Sardesai maintained that despite distribution's growing importance in India too, revenue for the NDTV channels would principally be driven by advertising.

Another area that NDTV would be looking at tapping more aggressively is sports-related programming. "Sports is another genre that has huge potential even for news channels and we are aiming to do something in this area too," Sardesai said.

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