Times Now ups ad rates amidst slowdown

MUMBAI: English news channel Times Now has taken up the challenge of upping its ad rates when the advertising economy is in the midst of a slowdown. Buoyed by ratings, the channel has hiked ad rates by 30 per cent across all time bands and its prime time 9 pm property ‘News Hour‘, anchored by Arnab Goswami, by 50 per cent.

Times Now, ET Now and zoOm CEO Avinash Kaul explains the rationale behind the move. “Times Now has had a high base of loyal viewers through its focus on hard-hitting and incisive news analysis. We continue to reign supreme in the English news genre for the 5th consecutive year and look forward to setting higher benchmarks for ourselves and for the industry. With our ever-increasing viewership share, we are positive that Times Now will always be the primary choice for the advertisers," he says.

But how much does Times Now charge advertisers? "The channel charges Rs 3000 to Rs 3500 on an average for a 10 second spot and Rs 20,000 for News Hour," says Times Now, ET Now and Zoom chief sales officer Hemant Arora.

Media buyers are not too sure that the revised rates would succeed. Several senior executives spoke to believed that the targets were too aggressive without taking into account the ground reality.

Platinum Media CEO Basabdutta Chowdhury offered a mixed reaction. “News Hour, going by its popularity and perception, may be able to attract the rates the channel is targeting. It is a case of demand and supply and in this case, the demand is there. But when it comes to the average rate increase by 30 per cent, I am not so sure. Considering the current economic climate, the advertisers may be reluctant to pay extra.”

Kaul believes this is a calculated move. “We have not revised our ad rates in a long time. We are only correcting the rates. When it comes to increasing the rates, there is never a ‘good’ time, but one has to make a start. We have just come out of a bad (economic) year and the budget looks optimistic. We expect the year to be better and hope to capitalise on the good sentiment.”

News broadcasters, who are struggling to post modest ad revenue growth, consider this as a bold move. “While the ad rates are the purview of individual news channels, it is a fact that they have been undervalued until now. It has been the effort of news broadcasters to increase the ad rates on their channels. I believe it is a bold move on the part of Times Now and we need to wait and watch how it pans out for them. It is not going to be easy," says the chief executive officer of a rival network.

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