NDTV Prime to fully operate on sponsored programmes

MUMBAI: New Delhi Television (NDTV) is carrying forward its de-risking strategy of reducing dependence on advertising revenues. Higher revenues from programme sponsorship had helped the news broadcaster report a small net profit of Rs 2 crore in 2012-13 despite weak advertising revenues, after two years of losses.

NDTV has now brought on board a channel sponsor and a channel partner for its split channels NDTV Profit and NDTV Prime. NDTV has from tonight converted its business news channel NDTV Profit into a dual channel - NDTV Profit will be a business news channel from 9:00 am till 5:00 pm on weekdays and will thereafter convert into a lifestyle and entertainment channel NDTV Prime. Over the weekends, the channel will be entirely NDTV Prime.

The 2-in-1 channel will provide NDTV with two primetime segments, one during the market hours and the second in the evening.

Mobile phone maker Micromax will be NDTV Prime's channel partner for a three-year period, under a deal, according to sources, that's valued at a shade above Rs 30 crore. Micromax will gain huge mileage as its emblem 'M' will be replacing the character 'm' in NDTV Prime.

NDTV has a channel partner for NDTV Profit in the country's largest exchange the National Stock Exchange (NSE). The channel will carry a line 'Partnered by NSE' under the NDTV Profit logo.

A promotional campaign featuring Shah Rukh Khan has already begun through print and TV with the tagline 'Work Hard Play Hard' embodying the dual nature of NDTV Profit and NDTV Prime.

NSE MD and CEO Chitra Ramakrishnan said the goals of NSE and NDTV Profit were similar in terms of investor outreach.

Says Micromax co-founder Rahul Sharma, "NDTV Prime provides an ideal opportunity for Micromax to reach out to evolved viewers through new programming on lifestyle, reality, automobiles, sports, music, property, gadgets and gizmos and comedy. With digitisation and advancement of technology, we are seeing a trend for greater consumption of high quality

content among the viewers."

In addition to the channel sponsor for NDTV Prime, the channel will also have sponsor or sponsors for every programme. This is expected to help NDTV Prime break-even within a year.

As reported earlier by, NDTV Prime's big-ticket show will be 'Ticket to Bollywood' sponsored by Videocon d2h along with VLCC and Fortis. Prime has been divided into various bands that are sponsored as well.

Education band 'Mindspace' at 6:30 pm is sponsored by LIC, IMS, Vidyalankar and Rau's IAS study circle, Property at 7:00pm is powered by Supertech and, Tech band at 8:00 pm is sponsored by Croma, Nokia and Toshiba, Auto band at 8:30 pm is with MRF, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Volvo, VistaTech, Mobil1 and Polaris as main sponsors.

The Comedy band at 10:00 pm and Strip movies at 10:30 pm are currently the only ones without sponsors. "How often do you see a channel which even before launch is pre-sold? People know this channel will work and I was sure we won't launch it without having the money in the bank," says NDTV group CEO Vikram Chandra.

Each band will have a different show each day of the week. Along with TV, NDTV Prime will also have exclusive shows on its website One of the first is two technology pieces of five to seven minutes that will be exclusively on its website every day.

Does the genre have enough of such content to put out on a daily basis? Tech anchor Rajiv Makhni says, "In technology, something or the other is happening every day. If a mobile is launched say on a Monday why would you wait till Saturday to see a feature on it? So on Prime you will see news, analysis as well as suggestions. Not only will we zoom in on a few best in every category but we will also tell you exactly which product should you buy."

He also goes on to explain that just because Micromax and Nokia are sponsors, there will be no bias in favour of these brands. "If a product has flaws then it has flaws. You will see it on our shows," says Makhni.

Men will drive the viewership for NDTV Prime. "A lot of our evening content is aimed for people with interests besides stock market. In fact, now our morning viewership will be a subset of our evening one and the evening will see 10 times more viewership," says NDTV co-chairperson Prannoy Roy.

With the facelift that NDTV has given to NDTV Profit with a split channel in NDTV Prime, it is also looking at beefing up its distribution with a lot of pull effect coming from people who want to watch Prime, especially Ticket to Bollywood.

"Entertainment and comedy usually has a pull distribution effect. So in this case we don't have to pay carriage fee as well," admitted Roy.

Roy, who was speaking on the sidelines of the launch of NDTV Prime, also spoke about the future prospects of NDTV. "Our future has got more to do with the digital platform," says Roy.

Chandra had earlier said a large part of NDTV's losses were due to NDTV Profit and now with Prime in place, the company is confident that its profits will get a boost.

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