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Profit makes way for 24x7 NDTV Prime

NDTV Prime becomes infotainment and current affairs channel while business and finance coverage shifts to NDTV 24x7 starting today

New Delhi Television (NDTV) has decided to convert its dual channel NDTV Profit and Prime into 24-hour NDTV Prime. The trading hours business and finance content of the channel under NDTV Profit will cease to exist starting today, June 5.

As per the BSE filing by the company on June 1, 2017, “NDTV has decided to transfer its business programming from Profit to regular business and finance segments on NDTV 24x7. This will mean suspending the current trading hours programming on Profit while Prime will continue as a channel. NDTV does not rule out reviving a business channel when the circumstances are appropriate. For now, there will be high quality business and finance segments on NDTV 2x7 which will enhance viewer experience on NDTV 24x7 during the daytime trading hours.”

Going by the company’s statement, it is clear that the circumstances are unfavourable for NDTV to run a dedicated business news channel and the step has been taken to cut the losses.

However, the business news genre is set to witness a new entrant BloombergQuint to be launched by former Network18 founder Raghav Bahl. Currently, the genre is dominated by CNBC-TV18 and ET Now while NDTV Profit and NDTV Prime, BTVi and CNBC-TV18 Prime HD were comparatively smaller players.

According to the latest BARC data for Week 21 (May 20-26, 2017) for NCCS AB, Male 22+ All India (U+R), ET Now was sitting at the top with 438,000 Impressions followed by CNBC-TV18 with 397,000 Impressions. NDTV Profit and NDTV Prime was at No. 3 with 96,000 Impressions. BTVi garnered 21,000 Impressions while CNBC-TV18 Prime HD recorded 1,000 Impressions.

As a first dual channel in the country, NDTV Profit operated from 9 AM to 5 PM on weekdays and it switched to being NDTV Prime at 5 PM on weekdays and remained Prime throughout the weekends. NDTV Prime had a different look, logo and programming.

NDTV Profit was launched in January 2005, against the only existing player in the segment CNBC TV18. While the channel has always been struggling to make business sense, the launch of ET Now in 2009 only worsened the situation for them.

The network has been bleeding losses for over a decade now, almost every year. In the 2003-04 fiscal, the company registered a loss of about Rs 500 million. In 2004-2005 fiscal, when NDTV Profit was launched, the network registered a net profit of Rs 353 million. However, in 2005-06, the net loss came to Rs 19.7 million. After recording a net loss of Rs 147.2 million in 2006-07 and loss of Rs 1885 million in 2007-08, the company registered a net profit of Rs 1430 million in the following fiscal (2008-09).

In the recent fiscal ended March 2017, the company again registered loss of Rs 687.9 million, slightly more than last year’s loss of Rs 548.2 million.

After this change, the network will be left with a Hindi news channel NDTV India, English news channel NDTV 24x7 and the infotainment and current affairs channel NDTV Prime (erstwhile dual channel NDTV Profit and NDTV Prime), along with a lifestyle channel NDTV Good Times.

It will be interesting to wait and watch what kind of content does NDTV Prime get, after the business news content is completely stopped. If the channel has infotainment content, then that content is a costly affair. Or if the channel goes back to being a general news channel, then the inhouse competition with NDTV 24x7 might be a trouble. It is yet to be seen where the channel will be placed in the electronic programming guide (EPG).

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