Business channels gird for big fight

Buckle up for the big fight. Monday on, the next big battle in the news channel space will be truly joined.17 January is when NDTV‘s business channel Profit officially starts beaming into Indian homes, taking head on the tried and tested CNBC TV18.=

With the proposed Times Group channel still another six months away, as per the timeline given by company officials, it is CNBC TV18 and Profit that will constitute the main drawcard as far as the business news slugfest is concerned.

And while CNBC TV18‘s sibling Awaaz, touted as India‘s first ‘consumer channel in Hindi‘, got off the blocks earlier (it launched Thursday, 13 January), one point that promoter Dr Prannoy Roy and co will draw on is that the language differentiation ensures that there is no straight face-off between Awaaz and Profit. Still, what Awaaz does is that clubbed with CNBC-TV18, it will allow promoter Raghav Bahl to aggregate audiences in English as well as Hindi target segments.

Bahl‘s aim is to widen audience reach through Awaaz, a Hindi channel with focus on news relating to investment, saving and spending decisions of the middle class. Says CNBC-TV18 chief executive officer Haresh Chawla, "CNBC targets the corporates, while Aawaz is positioned as a channel for the consumers."

In fact, just as CNBC TV18 enjoyed five years of undisputed leadership, Awaaz for the present at least, looks like it will enjoy a similar free run. And this despite it being 45+ days since Zee Telefilms launched its business news channel Zee Biz. The problem for Zee Biz from the start has been that it has existed on the fringes with no adequate push from the company.

And Zee Biz faces an even more daunting situation now with the arrival of Awaaz. A rather ironic point of note is that both Awaaz and Zee biz will constitute a part of the Zee-Turner distribution platform‘s new channel bouquet that also includes HBO, Pogo and VH1.

Profit has in fact adopted the two-language formula for the present at least. What this does is allow the channel to evaluate at some point whether it is feasible to launch a separate Hindi channel a la Awaaz or pitch its USP to advertisers and viewers as a "two-in-one" package.

As for the Profit Vs CNBC TV18 positioning, both channels are harping on two things - quality and unique differentiating programmes.

"We will bank on NDTV‘s credibility, and the image and strength of our two existing channels. Besides, we are introducing some driver programmes which we can‘t reveal now," says NDTV Media CEO Raj Nayak. It will be on the weekends and "traditional prime time" that these programme differentiators will come into play. Lifestyle, food, books and art shows, international programming hosted by Indians… these will constitute the infotainment part of the channel‘s offering.

Having said that, as far as the business prime time from 9 am to 5 pm (which is when the stock markets are on) is concerned, neither will have much by way of differentiators to offer. Says a source in NDTV, "In the prime time space, there is very little opportunity to do anything dramatically different. It will be a straight apples for apples fight. It will all boil down to whose apples look and taste better."

One area where NDTV hopes it will have an edge over CNBC is on breaking news. It believes that its much wider network of reporters that are in place nationwide will make a critical difference as far as business news gathering is concerned. Whether this premise holds true will of course be known in due course.

And what of the Times business channel proposition? While executives associated with the project remain close-lipped about the channel‘s positioning, it will be interesting to see if it wants to compete at all within the narrow space of a CNBC-TV18 or NDTV Profit. That it will have the highest quotient of non business news in its content offering among the three is more than likely. Could it turn out looking almost like what NDTV 24x7 is currently but with a far heavier skew towards business? That is not too far fetched a possibility.


Just why are so many channels getting into financial TV news? Competition will grow the market, says Nayak. "Being a monopoly player, CNBC-TV18 had limitations in expanding the market for business news. We expect the entry of new players will grow this segment to Rs 1 billion within the first year."

Agrees Chawla: "We fought the war alone for five years. Competition will help business channels emerge as a category. There will be fight for share, but the market will also grow and we can charge premium on advertising rates," he says.

Competition, in fact, fuelled growth in the entire news channel business. When Star News was the only private news channel, the segment was a small revenue-earner. But the entry of Hindi news channel Aaj Tak and NDTV later really exploded the market which today is estimated at Rs 5 billion.


According to sources in Sony-Discovery, Profit will launch with most of the top cities already signed up. He cites the example of the two biggest MSOs in Mumbai, InCableNet and Hathway, as having already signed on. To stress the point, the executive said Profit‘s distribution was comparable to the success Star One achieved right from Day 1 of launch.

Profit will be launching as a free-to-air channel.

Though business contributes to a meagre amount in the news segment, it can open doors for subscription revenue. CNBC-TV18 earns Rs 180 million in its pay business. Not big money, but it allows NDTV to look ahead to going pay at some point.

One of the reasons given for NDTV‘s other two channels staying free-to-air has been that there is little room to manouvre since Hindi news space leader Aaj Tak, as too its English sibling Headlines Today, are free. Going by the logic that the leader sets the agenda, NDTV could well "Profit" from going pay. But that is not going to happen anytime soon. Profit‘s free status will make it that much easier to push it up on the cable spectrum band. Something it needs to do at any cost because it is taking on a channel that is superbly positioned on most cable networks.


Latest Reads
Know your karma on IBN7 with 'Karm Path'

In an attempt to give its viewers a refreshing start of the day, IBN7 is launching a new show titled Karm Path. Starting 27 October, the show will predict what the day holds. The show is a differentiator in its own genre as it connotes the supremacy of deeds over destiny.

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
Big Ganga available on Tata Sky now

Big Ganga has strengthened its distribution with DTH service provider Tata Sky.

Television TV Channels Regional
TV is story-teller's new novel; audience is Bharat, not India: Star's Banerjee

MUMBAI: Since five to six years, television has become the talking point. Th series such as 'Breaking Bad' to Transparent to Narcos to 'Game of Thrones' to 24, and now POW (Prisoners of Wars) has changed the experience of television viewing.

Television TV Channels GECs
Star World to air 1-5 of 'Homeland'

Star World and Star World HD is all geared up to air the pulse-pounding action series 'Homeland.' The show tackles geopolitical moral conundrums of our current world. It has recently unveiled the teaser for the upcoming season 6 shows how Carrie Mathison will circumvent around another international...

Television TV Channels English Entertainment
Share all World Cup, T-20 feeds with Prasar Bharati, rights holder told

The telecast of all official one-day and Twenty-20 matches played by the Indian Men’s Cricket Team will henceforth have to be shared by the rights holder with the public broadcaster Prasar Bharati under the Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Act 2007.

Television TV Channels Terrestrial
Saregama returns to film music acquisition with Pen pact

Saregama India has inked a two-movie deal with Pen Movies. With this agreement, Saregama has acquired the music rights of upcoming Bollywood releases of Pen which includes Kahaani 2 -- Durga Rani Singh, featuring Vidya Balan and Arjun Rampal.Kahaani 2 is slated for a release on 2 December.

Television TV Channels Music and Youth
Q2-17: Zeel numbers, PAT up on higher Ad and Subscription revenue

The Subhash Chandra led content and broadcast player Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (Zeel) reported a 23 per cent hike in consolidated revenue for the quarter ended 30 September 2016 (Q2-17, current quarter) as compared to the corresponding quarter of the previous year.

Television TV Channels GECs
Best Deal TV appoints Hari Trivedi as COO

MUMBAI: Best Deal TV has appointed Hari Trivedi as the chief operating officer with immediate effect. Based in Mumbai, Trivedi will be responsible for overall sales and marketing. He would also be initializing lowest price offers and deals on Best Deal TV.

Television TV Channels People
Disney announces successor of MD Siddharth Roy-Kapur

MUMBAI: Walt Disney International has announced the successor to its former managing director Siddharth Roy-Kapur. As a second stint with the organization, Mahesh Samat has made a comeback and will lead The Walt Disney Company India as the managing director. He will pursue his new responsibility...

Television TV Channels People

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories