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TV18 sheds IBN from Hindi news channel; relaunches as News18 India

Claiming surge in viewership in key TGs on the back of already revamped programming, the channel aims to challenge the status quo with its new identity

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Mumbai | November 9, 2016


Six months after relaunching its English news channel CNN-IBN as CNN-News18, TV18 is set to have a complete new identity for its Hindi news channel, IBN7. Phasing out the ‘IBN’ branding, the news network will relaunch its Hindi news channel as News18 India with a new logo and tagline along with a refreshed on-air look.

The new avatar of the channel will be revealed at 6.57 PM tonight with the objective of creating a distinct position for itself in the Hindi general news category. The channel’s digital presence will also be revamped with the launch of a newly designed

Avinash Kaul Avinash Kaul

Avinash Kaul, CEO, Managing Director of A+E Networks, TV18 & President Strategy, Product and Alliances, Network18, said, “We have been at it for a while now. We have changed a lot of content. The numbers have really picked up. This is the finale stage now. The content was already being launched slowly. We didn’t wait for one final day to come and do everything on one day. The key reason for the numbers to pick up is that our main shows are doing really well. That is a good sign. The team is already charged up and looking forward to the new name change and rest of the rebranding and marketing campaign done so far.”

The channel has also refreshed its programming with new faces like Amish Devgan and Kishore Ajwani joining under the leadership of Prabal Pratap Singh. Quoting the latest BARC India viewership data, IBN7 claimed to be in the league of top Hindi news channels. It claimed to be ahead of India TV, Aaj Tak and ABP News with 12.5 per cent relative share among the target group (TG): NCCS All : 15+ Individuals : Market: HSM 1 Mn+  : Time Period: Week 43 Mon – Fri 19:00 to 22:00.

The channel is proud of its performance and boasts of being at No. 2 in the main key three hours of primetime. Kaul said, “It has been a big achievement for the channel as earlier for a long time we were not even in top 6-7. It is all because of our hardcore content.”

The channel now has a complete revamped look with a new logo, programming, look and music. It has upgraded itself with new technology and has a new studio too. Everything related to the rebranding and promotional strategy was ideated and done in-house. Everest Brand Solutions is the channel’s brand communication partner and has also helped the channel with its brand communication strategy.

Anticipating on how consumers would react to the new name, Kaul said, “New names eventually do take time to settle in. But I don’t see it as a major challenge. I don’t anticipate any major issues happening in terms of the new identity.”

When asked if the viewership would change with the channel coming up with a new name and logo as people would take time to relate and recall the channel, Kaul said, “I am not too worried about that. People will go on to the channel number where they earlier used to. We have also come out with a marketing campaign to promote the new identity. Also, our channel faces are known. Our proposition is reasonably clear.”

Incidentally, News18 is also the brand name of the network’s English channel in international territories. Kaul informed that internationally the channel is known as News18 and in India, the Hindi news channel is named as News18 India.

The channel will be promoting the new identity on a 360 degree platform. It has allocated its substantial marketing spend on the television front. Kaul said, “We are spending good amount on the digital front, primarily the social media part of it. The reason for focussing more on social media is due to its youth angle and also because main news viewers are primarily on Twitter and Facebook. So, you would want to reach out to the people who are opinion-based. They are the ones who are typically the news consumers. These people express their opinions on the online forum.”

Talking about the channel’s strategy for advertisers and sponsors, Kaul said, “After the relaunch happens, there would be some amount of effort on getting the rates higher as the channel is picking up and work has started on that front also. Advertisers tend to follow channels that have better rating and hard news. Our primetime is full of debates and main news shows, which is purely hard news that we are looking at.”

Giving details of the look and feel of the channel’s new identity, Kaul said, “It is a departure from what we have seen and it will be unveiled today. But I can say that it is neater, cleaner, nicer and very contemporary. It is a step above from what you will find around the Hindi news scenario.”

Kaul added, “If in the next six months we are able to position ourselves in the top 4-5, I think we should be happy with that performance. I would like the team to break into the top four channels.” If the channel manages to break through, next year it plans to be in the top two.

Kaul believes that nothing holds back Hindi news channels in comparison to the English ones. He said the Hindi news channel has a larger viewership, but emphasised the fact that “quality of eyeballs differ” He explained, “It takes time to break through and consistent efforts are needed to happen in Hindi to really break through. After all the months of hard work that now we have put in, the results are showing. It is happening one week before the relaunch, it is even more happening.”

In the current scenario, where the credibility of media is questioned by the government, the media is also accusing the government of trying to curb the freedom of the press. Asked how News18 India is viewing the current scenario, Kaul said, “News18 India continues to be on the objective focus it has been. It just focuses on news and that is all about it. A lot of discussion has happened on this topic. We will continue to focus on news and that’s what we are best at and that is what we will continue doing.”

On how to be unbiased and maintain credibility of news, Kaul said, “As long as you have focus on news, the more you focus on what you are supposed to be doing on the ground, and that is what changes the entire thing and viewers relate to that. Consumer benefit should be the only focus point for the channel. That is the true determinant of whether people actually like you as a channel or don’t. Ratings are fairly neutral way of judging that. If you go overboard, the viewers won’t like you and your ratings will fall down.”

News18 has become the mother brand for the TV18 group, which owns and operates 18 news channels in English, Hindi, Urdu and other regional languages.

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