Television

News18 India commands 13.5% of overall Hindi news market: Prabal Pratap Singh

News18 India commands 13.5% of overall Hindi news market: Prabal Pratap Singh

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MUMBAI: The Hindi news genre is going to enter its peak time with five assembly elections coming up followed by general elections in 2019. With 22 channels in the genre, the audience can expect a deeper coverage from all the channels as well as tough competition to gain their attention. In 2018, the genre has contributed 5 per cent to the total TV viewership from week 1 to week 39. Election coverage is crucial for news channels to increase viewer loyalty.

Indiantelevision.com caught up with News18 India managing editor Prabal Pratap Singh to talk about the channel’s plan for the upcoming election and the challenges faced by the Hindi news channels.

If we look at the BARC rating of week 41, News18 India sits comfortably on second position in both Hindi news (urban+rural) and Hindi news urban market. If we talk about the rural market, the channel is at the third position behind Aaj Tak and ABP News, respectively.

Excerpts:

Q: After the channel revamp in 2016, how has the channel performed in terms of viewership and the overall performance?

For some time now, we are there in the top slot of Hindi news ranking. When the channel was re-launched, our total ratings were floating between 5-6.5 per cent. Now, we are at 13.9 per cent, which is more than a 100 per cent growth, if you look it from the point of view of ratings and market share.

Additionally, our prime time shows are doing very well. If we talk about evening prime time, the 7-11 pm time band, it has been doing extremely well for a long time now; the performance has been consistent.

Morning shows, from 7-10 am are also doing very good. At times, we are number one in the morning time bands also. So, that speaks for itself. Overall, our performance has been stellar

Q: Any new show launches in the pipeline and which time slot and which show is getting the highest viewership?

I’ll answer the second question first. Sau Baat Ki Ek Baat is doing really well. It is one of the most popular shows across HSM market and it has been consistent with almost 15-16 per cent of market share. If you look at the competition, we are facing tough competition, it is the nature of the industry, yet this show is doing really well.

As for new show launches, we have certain plans but it’s not proper to reveal it at the moment.

Q: How do you see the competition from other players in the Hindi news genre?

The other players have a history and legacy. They have been into the news genre from almost over a decade and hence, they have brand recall value – they are an old hand, in a way.

Having said that, we launched News18 India afresh and with no legacy of IBN7. So, it was a completely new product but despite that, we have been able to get ahead of our competition. Our ratings speak for us - they have been growing consistently.

Q: According to you, what are the challenges faced by the Hindi news broadcasters in this industry?

I won’t put them as problems, but, yes, the challenge is there. The challenge is that the viewer wants something new every day and that is the one challenge which we encounter while planning our show flow. Second is that there is no appointment viewership in the sense that the viewer will definitely come to you and watch your channel. The viewers’ commitment to a particular channel, I think, is missing. So, that is one challenge on which we are working - how do we handle this and ensure loyalty for News18 India.

Q: How are you planning to cover the upcoming assembly elections at the year end?

We have great plans for the elections. Without going into the details of those plans, I can share some overview. There will be more of the popular shows on News 18 India even as we step up outdoor coverage on the elections. We are planning to take the debates out of the studio. We have plans to re-do Lapete Mei Netaji – one of our most popular shows. We will also see how even with our current shows and those that we are planning specifically for the elections we can engage the viewers more and more.

Q: What are the content and marketing strategies of the channel going forward?

To put it in one line, it is to outsmart our competition.

Our primary aim is to push our shows and channel’s faces in the markets which contribute most to the Hindi news genre. We always reach out to viewers whenever the channel introduces a new element in its line-up. The idea is to keep our viewers updated with what News18 India has in store for them.

Editorial has planned various election based shows including on-ground shows for upcoming state elections. Our strategy will be to reach out to maximum number of people of these states by doing various branding-cum-engagement activities. This is a key element of our strategy wherein content and marketing will go hand in hand to create greater affinity amongst the viewers.

We are also keen on building the perception of the channel as a category leader. This, in our opinion, will further drive viewership. Viewers typically depend more and more on channels that they think are the leaders in the category. To that end, we had even done a tactical campaign titled Aaj Ka No. 1 asserting News18 India’s leadership. It directly took on the competition and asserted that News18 India has altered the pecking order in the category. This will be a recurring theme in our marketing communication wherein we would like to position the channel clearly as the leader in the category.

Q: What is the total reach of News18 India? Which region is contributing to the highest viewership?

Our cumulative reach is 206.2 million* and major Hindi speaking markets (HSMs) like UP/UK, Mah/Goa & MP/Chhattisgarh contribute maximum to News18 India’s viewership

(Source: BARC, NCCS All 2+, Wk 36-39'18, 24 Hrs, All Days, All India)

Q: On the back of the significant growth, how are you planning to keep the growth momentum going to be the leader in the category?

Our channel is already appreciated by the viewers and our numbers are a testimony to our claim. While we have witnessed more than a 100 per cent growth since the channel’s relaunch, we already command a market share of 13.5 per cent (Source: BARC, NCCS All 15+, Wk 36-39'18, HSM)

We are the leaders in the evening primetime with a market share of 17.3 per cent (Source: BARC India Market: India Urban TG: 15+ Time Period: Wk 36 2018 -40 2018 Mon-Fri 1900-2300)

Our differentiated content is another growth driver. We have always come out with new concepts of news telling. We are continuously setting new benchmarks in the Hindi television news. We were the first channel which launched two back-to-back debates and no other channel was doing it. Then, a third debate which was out of the studio. Our shows are performing really well and now everybody is imitating us.

We plan to keep on doing what we are doing best and improve upon the rest to consolidate our position as the leader in the category.

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