Absence of TRPs has not impacted legacy media brands much: M K Anand

Absence of TRPs has not impacted legacy media brands much: M K Anand

Times Network is all set to launch Times Now Navbharat SD channel in January.

M K Anand

Mumbai: Times Network did not follow the playbook when they launched the Hindi news channel Times Now Navbharat HD in August. The Hindi news genre is saturated with many channels but Times Network entered the HD space where the only incumbent was Aaj Tak HD, said Times Network MD and CEO M K Anand.

“When we launched our channel in the HD news space, the only other channel was Aaj Tak HD which is a great comparison set to have,” said MK Anand at an event on Tuesday. “The opportunity to come top-down in the Hindi news category helped us to focus on the brand first and then go to the mass audience.”

The broadcaster is planning to launch Times Now Navbharat SD channel on 1 January 2022 four months after the launch of the HD channel. The launch coincides with the upcoming UP Assembly elections 2022. About two months of additional revenue is generated by news broadcasters during an election year.

“The cost of marketing and distribution is much cheaper during the elections and will help our SD channel achieve mass reach in a short period,” said Anand.

Elaborating on the performance of the newly launched Times Now Navbharat HD, he said, “The channel has garnered 100+ million video views per month on its digital content. Our ad volumes are already at 55-60 per cent of Aaj Tak HD while maintaining the same ad rates. Maintaining the same ad rates has been very limiting for the ad sales team but they have still been able to reach such high ad volumes which is remarkable.”

The network also launched Hindi business news channel ET Now Swadesh in August. While there have been no business news channel launches in several years in the language space, Anand stated that there was a huge gap for such content in the Hindi-speaking market.

“After demonetisation and interest rates coming down, people began participating in mutual funds and financial markets. This has become a necessity if they want to beat inflation. Foreign institutional investors, sophisticated retail investors, and corporates are taking advantage of the great growth that the Indian stock market is seeing currently. But ordinary Indians are not. That’s why we launched ET Now Swadesh with the proposition ‘India is rising, come rise with us,” he said.

Times Network MD and CEO also talked about how 60-70 per cent of the year's revenue is coming from pre-booking anchor sponsors. “If we pushed our sales team for higher revenues then there is no chance of maintaining our ad rates and that would destroy the brand and the category competitors. Our rates are in proportion to where we stand compared to our competitors” he added.

Anand observed that the absence of TRPs for the news genre has not affected legacy media brands as much as news channels without strong brand recognition. “This genre is bought on the basis of effective rate (ER) and not cost-per-rating-point (CPRP). The absence of ratings hurts broadcasters as they are not able to design their product, FPC, etc in the absence of data as to what is working and how they are performing vis-à-vis others in the genre.”

The Broadcast Audience Research Council (Barc) India had suspended the Television Ratings Points (TRPs) for the news genre in October last year.

The network is planning to distribute Times Now Navbharat on the free DTH platform DD Free Dish as and when MPEG slots become available. “We will bid for the MPEG slots if they become available,” noted Anand.  

“At the Times group, we are obsessed with brand development. As you can see from the array of iconic brands that we have created over the years such as TOI, ET, TN, Femina, Filmfare, etc,” said Anand. “In our checklist of people, content, distribution, marketing and sales, we have been ultra-focussed on the brand right from day one.”