News channels see digital platforms driving subscription income

NEW DELHI: News Channels have seen exponential growth over the last few years and can still "find the pot of gold,” but from a long term perspective, will have to focus on higher subscription revenues, speakers at The Indian News Television Summit 2007 said here today.

Audience share has increased from less than one per cent in 2000 to seven - eight per cent as the genre has exploded with over 40 channels beaming news content. “The genre has taken away viewers from the general entertainment channels and brought in new advertisers. News channels have the people to take this pot of gold forward,” Tam India CEO LV Krishnan said.

The pace of growth is set to accelerate as over 40 applications are waiting for clearance from the information and broadcasting ministry. NDTV, in fact, is expecting a 20 per cent year-on-year growth.

“New sources of revenue are still to be tapped like content syndication, overseas expansion and internet presence. Besides, there is scope for local news channels with sectors like retail seeing rapid growth,” said NDTV Media CEO Raj Nayak.

Agreed Starcom Mediavest Group CEO South Asia Ravi Kiran, “We will see dramatic changes in the way news is going to be consumed over the next three -five years. Media organizations will need to gather, aggregate and distribute news.”

The session on “Searching for revenues: Advertising and Distribution, Finding the pot of gold” was moderated by editorial director Thomas Abraham.

The digital era will throw open more revenue opportunities for news channels. “There will be subscription opportunities. News and sports, for instance, will drive Mobile TV. In the digital era, however, brands will be important,” said SET Discovery president Anuj Gandhi.

Al Jazeera Network director - global distribution Phil Lawrie said that it would be interesting to see how business models are going to evolve in India in a digital environment.

However, Hinduja TMT president - corporate services Ashok Mansukhani wasn’t too bullish on the potential to accommodate so many news channels. “The Cas (conditional access system) data shows that consumers are not willing to pay for news channels. And on analogue cable TV, there is a distribution cost. It remains to be seen how this battle for the marketplace is going to shape up,” he said.

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