Arnab's Republic ready for news battle

MUMBAI: It seems to be one of those rare media projects that is launching with a battery of advertisers and sponsors. Also, it is an exceptional new television channel that had little or no difficulty in reaching out to the right audience through myriad platforms -- linear TV, through cable and MSOs, and OTT.

Arnab Goswami?s Republic TV, which is being launched at 10am on 6 May as reported weeks ago, will have a strong digital presence through Reliance Jio?s over-the-top (OTT) platform Jio TV and Star India?s video-on-demand (VoD) platform Hotstar.

Star and Jio happen to be among the eight original sponsors of Republic TV. Others advertisers include Renault, Vivo, Hike Messenger, Ola, Yes Bank, Microsoft and Future Group. Vivo is also the presenting sponsor of the 9-pm show, while Microsoft is the technology partner. 

It appears as if it is having a near-perfect launch. With a high decibel marketing campaign - online, outdoors, on ground - which has made almost everyone in the major metros sit up and take note.

Republic TV will be available  on cable TV, direct-to-home (DTH) and OTT platforms, its digital avataar being Amongst the DTH platforms which have given it carriage, according to reports,  include: Videocon2h, Tata Sky and some say even Airtel has hopped on board. The MSOs which have reportedly signed on the dotted line include: DEN, Hathway, Manthan, and Ortel. However, some cable and DTH operators may not offer the channel for free or it would be made a part of a bouquet.

Goswami's 'pro-military and nationalistic? and may be pro-establishment, will have the biggest OTT advantage with Hotstar 135 million downloads. The free-to-air (FTA) channel will bridge the Indian national news vacuum in Hotstar?s portfolio. Hotstar, which offers premium, free and original content across genres, live-streams Sky News and Fox News owned by 21st Century Fox, its parent company. Star earlier exited from the news business as regulation does not allow foreign holding of 51% in television news franchises.

Goswami believes (being on Hotstar) was the first step as news produced in India goes digital, and then global, since the non-FTA paid VoD platform would take news to  90 million-plus viewers every month. 

The former Times Now editor had teamed up with Kerala NDA vice-chairman and Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar in launching Republic TV. Other investors in ARG Outlier include DEN Networks promoter Sameer Manchanda, senior investment banker Hemendra Kothari, Aarin Capital's Ranjan Ramdas Pai, Asian Heart Institute?s Ramakanta Panda and TVS Tyres? R Naresh etc.

Headed by an idealistic journalist and master-presenter, a near-perfect launch of a nationalistic channel in  times of nationalist dispensation notwithstanding, it remains to be seen how it performs in the jungle of warring news channels. As a senior executive  of a long standing English news broadcaster says: "Republic TV has made the right kind of noises at launch phase. Its key challenge will be sustainibility and that too over the long run. Rivals have deeper pockets and clout; they have not really reacted aggressively against it. When they do, it will have to put up its best, and that will determine its road ahead."

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