A detailed look at how the channel has leapt into the top 4 within three months of its brand refresh in a highly competitive genre and how it prepares to break into the top 2
BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | March 1, 2017
There is a disruption in the top order of the highly competitive Hindi news genre as News18 India has occupied the No. 4 slot for the last two weeks, pushing India News out of the top 5 list, according to BARC India viewership data for Weeks 6 & 7. News18 India came about as a result of the of brand refresh of IBN7 in November last year. IBN7 was sitting at No. 8 before the rebranding. With the rebranding, perceptions changed in three months, enabling it to break into the top 4 list.
As the Hindi news genre grew by five per cent in the latest four-week average viewership for Weeks 41-44 of 2016, News18 India grew by 58 per cent. Zee News and India TV witnessed growth of 11 and 10 per cent, respectively, while Aaj Tak and ABP News grew by 1 per cent each. On the other hand, India News that was pushed out of the top 5 witnessed a decline of 16 per cent viewership. [HSM (U+R): NCCS All: 15+ Individuals]
Comparing the percentage growth in the latest week over the week prior to refresh, News18 India has registered a whopping growth of 93 per cent where the entire Hindi news genre grew by 13 per cent. Zee News and DD News witnessed a growth of 18 per cent each while India TV and News 24 grew by 12 per cent each. News Nation and Aaj Tak added 7 and 3 per cent more viewership in Week 7 2017 over Week 44’16.
Well on target
At the time of rebranding, Avinash Kaul, President, Strategy, Product and Alliances, Network 18 and Managing Director, A + E Networks, TV18, had told BestMediaInfo.com that the channel was expected to break into the top 4-5 in within six months. However, it reached its target in just three months. Although News18 India had started introducing new shows much before rebranding, it really took off with the elections and has been performing consistently well for last one month.
Commenting on the success sooner than expected, Kaul said, “We were being realistic about our expectations and rather preferred to be on the conservative side. It doesn’t always depend upon how well have you done but also depends upon how well your competition is doing. And there was a run-up to the assembly elections.”
The channel has put up strong performance on the back of a revamped primetime which has delivered the desired numbers competing with the top players like Aaj Tak, India TV, Zee News and ABP News. In the latest four-week average (Wk 3-7’17), New18 India has a relative share of 13.2 per cent in primetime (7-11 PM) and sits at No. 4, while it is No. 2 in Week 7 in the HSM markets. In megacities, News18 India is No. 2 in primetime (7-11 PM) ahead of Aaj Tak, India TV and ABP News.
The winning formula
Talking about what worked for the channel, Kaul said, “Our primetime programming delivered in a way we expected. Some strategy like bringing crime in the night and entertainment in the morning worked well while we had to abandon astrology. Now entire day is overall looking impressive.”
“The mix of programming in News18 India’s weekday primetime includes news and debates. ‘Hum Toh Poochenge’ in the 8 PM slot is arguably the number one debate show today while ‘Aar Par’ at 7 PM is a close No. 2. So, 7-9 PM is more than enough for the debate shows. The 9 PM slot onwards we have hardcore news beginning with ‘Sau Baat ki Ek Baat’ in a very different format which delivers a relative share of more than 15 per cent on an average. ‘Kachcha Chiththa’ at 10 PM is again a special news show,” added Kaul.
News18 India has clear advantage of being a part of the largest news network. Network18 owned ETV News Network has 13 news channels that have proved time and again the power of ground reporting for the network’s national channels. At the time of vote counting in the Bihar elections, where all the channels depending on one research agency got it grossly wrong, Network18’s news channels showed the might of large network and presented correct results relying on their ground reporting. “The power of a large news network has undoubtedly been an asset for us. There are a lot of synergies between ETV News Network which has 13 news channels and national channels strengthening each other,” said Kaul.
The channel sees new television viewership currency BARC as another advantage factor. “For every slot, you try different things and when you get the desired results you hold on to that. The bottom line is that the BARC panel is relatively new, so thumb rules have to be learnt all over again. The advantage with us is that we came in a post BARC era with a refreshed identity and thinking,” explained Kaul.
The challenge ahead
Not necessarily immediate but Kaul’s next target is to reach No. 2 in a year and the race gets tougher from here. When asked if News18 has started preparing for the next challenge, Kaul said, “Once you reach your first goal, you need to consolidate that position first and as a part of this we are right now working on the morning and afternoon slots and after that we will concentrate on weekends. So, at this point of time, I’d say we are building the blocks one by one. A well thought out strategy is half the battle won, as long as there is consistency, the team remains highly motivated and they push harder for better outcome.”
“We have huge respect for the incumbents who are there for a long time and they have many things up their sleeves to react on our performance. But at the same time it also gives you a boost when your strong competition copies your format making you feel a thought leader,” added Kaul.