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News Nation shows how ‘pure’ news is still the best recipe for success

As it turns one, the Hindi news channel sits over established channels like NDTV India and IBN7, a position it claims to have earned on the back of basic virtues for news – credible, class, clean, speed, quality, reliable, authentic

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | February 20, 2014

news-nation-turns-one

A year is too little a time in the history of a news channel in the cluttered Hindi news broadcasting space but for News Nation it has been nothing short of a successful first year. The channel has made the veteran broadcasters run for their money and news coverage as well.

This Valentine’s Day, News Nation turned one. At the beginning, many had wondered if it would be just another channel. Headed by Aaj Tak veteran Shailesh Kumar as CEO, the channel gradually emerged as a serious player with pure news content and traditional style of presentation.

Shailesh Kumar Shailesh Kumar

At a time when content costs were cut down heavily across channels and live feed from agencies and studio chats took over news programming, News Nation decided to make itself a reporter led channel with extensive field reporting. Strategically designed programming schedules differentiate the channel from competitors – it has dedicated only one hour for discussions and studio chats at 9 PM while other time-bands have pure news.

Current standing

In a short span of time, the channel has not only proved that the pure news format can still work but it has established itself ahead big players like NDTV India and IBN7 which it claims to have earned by adhering to the basic virtues for news – credible, class, clean, speed, quality, reliable, authentic.

News Nation had an average 68 TVT and 7.4 per cent of relative share according to the latest four weeks TAM data (source: TAM, CS 15+ Yrs, HSM, Wk03-06’14)

Click on the image to enlarge. Click on the image to enlarge.

Challenges

According to Kumar, making a mark in such an overcrowded market with strong viewer-connect is itself an achievement. He said, “The road for us was not easy as this extremely cluttered genre was dominated by non-news segments. When we started conceptualising News Nation, we concluded that there were two types of news channels – one who were trivialising news, and the other who had no aggression and quality. And there was a gap for a news channel in the Hindi space with a credible content coupled with speed and in-depth coverage.”

Look and feel

The channel opted for a clean look and pleasant feel by avoiding unnecessary animation in its graphics on screen. “We picked theme colour as grey with traditional look and feel that offers a distinct look to our channel,” said Kumar. “We also avoid use of music to sensationalise the content and let original ambience of the video take priority in our content.”

Along with the channel’s look and studio design, its differentiated approach towards content was the key. While the channel puts the news in its original form, it multiplies the relevance of the news for its viewers by telling the impact of the news on the common man. “Our tagline ‘Khabrein banti hain aapki power’ fairly describes our content strategy,” Kumar explained.

Navin Khemka Navin Khemka

Navin Khemka, Managing Partner, ZenithOptimedia, commented, “News Nation has been able to make a mark in the cluttered Hindi news space. They have differentiated content from a presentation point of view and are not clones of existing channels. I think their USP is that they are presenting news in its ‘pure’ form. I am confident that this will reflect in numbers and they will soon be able to compete amongst the top channels in this space. The Indian audience is maturing and this could be the answer just in time for change.”

According to Kumar, “We strictly said no to programming around astrology, amazing videos and entertainment and comedy shows clips from GECs. Viewership is vital for any new channel and it was a challenge for us to grow without trivialisation and entertainment. We put the news on air because of its relevance not after weighing its potential to attract viewership.”

R Venkatasubramanian R Venkatasubramanian

R Venkatasubramanian, Senior VP at media agency Initiative, observed, “News Nation has done a fantastic job on distribution and differentiated content, especially positive news (Khabar achi hai), Bath kaam ki hai, Nation city – which covers a different city every day, Nation state – it covers a different state every day.  The above programmes are doing well for them.”

“They will have to focus on election and youth related programme and they should retain the quality of their news content to grow further. They need to get into regional channels (North) to dominate Hindi speaking markets,” added Venkatasubramanian.

Marketing

News Nation relied on distribution and word of mouth in the initial stage. Kumar explained, “We had a strong conviction that our content was sufficient to market the brand. We broke an extensive campaign only when we reached a respectable position after six months of our launch.”

In September last year, the channel launched a nationwide marketing campaign across mediums reaching out to 93.5 million potential viewers.

Speaking on the sales strategy, Kumar said, “Our sales team came in place under Abhay Kumar Ojha, SVP and Head of Sales, Marketing and Research, after six months of our launch when we got significant viewership. The channel had the usual target of three years to reach breakeven but the way it has progressed in the first year of operation, I am confident of achieving breakeven in the second year of operation.”

Abhay Kumar Ojha Abhay Kumar Ojha

Agreeing with Kumar, Ojha said, “Beginning at a reasonable ad rate is crucial towards achieving the goal and we are happy to see we are on target. We will come up with quality on-ground events soon which will add more value to our brand.”

The channel will follow the ad cap decided by the government. However, Kumar agreed that the ad cap should have been done in a phased manner for news and other niche channels and also taking the industry into confidence.

“News Nation believes in empowering its viewers with intelligent news, it’s young and dynamic team always strives for the best and will continue to do so in future. I also thank all our viewers who have enabled us to reach at this position,” concluded Kumar.

Info@BestMediaInfo.com

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