Times Network’s second English news channel Mirror Now claimed that it garnered a reach of 365 million viewers in the first four weeks of its soft launch since Week 14 as it announced the formal launch with a tagline “You. First.” through a full front page jacket advertisement in Times of India yesterday. The channel focuses on civic issues -- away from general politics and social issues that the other channels (including its sibling Times Now) are running after.
Mirror Now has replaced MagicBricks Now on the distribution arrangement, but it looks like a whole new channel from the Times Network.
“There are too many English news channels and we didn’t want to join them -- we wanted to have a differentiated specific positioning. The channel has been able to steadily increase the reach numbers to clock 365 million Impressions, Times Now operates at about 700-800 million, while an average English news channel is in the range of 500-550 per week (SEC AB 1 million Plus),” explained MK Anand, MD and CEO, Times Network.
The network is looking at reaching 500 million by the end of this quarter. Efforts are being made to build reach through distribution, fixed point chart (FPC) planning, marketing and content selection. “The next step is the time-spent, which depends on interesting content. Here we will focus on content that matters to the viewers. Issues of importance to English viewers, including women safety, traffic, environment, infrastructure, housing, education and such others,” said Anand.
There is an elaborate plan on marketing on three levels. The first level is the announcement of the channel, which started across print and television platforms, with support on digital. The second level will be heavy on digital since it deals with sampling of the content. The third level will be about engagement with the audience.
Faye D’Souza, Editor, Mirror Now, said, “We are paying such heavy taxes with no returns, where is the justification for that? Where is the justification for fuel prices and for paying Rs 150 for bank withdrawals? We don’t track politics, it doesn’t matter which political party is there, we care there is a government. We focus on policies that have been getting amended over these years and there’s still scope. We are picking issues and highlighting these to government and asking for answers.”
Anand pointed out how all the other news channel, no matter which one you go to are more or less similar, “Mirror Now intends to stay out. Infrastructure is one major hindrance. Most Indians are logically intellectually and sensibly at par with their international counterparts, but have limited lifestyle due to lack of infrastructure. Mirror Now will focus on these issues and get them addressed.”
The channel is looking at extending its distribution to Times Now, which is currently covering about 90 per cent. For this, the focus, right now, is on one million plus towns. The network of reporters and journalists in every nook and corner of the country is always there to support the channel.
Mirror Now, with its flagship show ‘The Urban Debate’, is making efforts and driven results for the betterment of people. D’Souza is hosting the show and it is a tent-poled property for the channel in the evening primetime. She explained, “We are looking at morning and evening prime time seriously. Crime is important to us. We will have a lot of viewer engagement on shows through phone calls. Television, earlier was speaking to you, but now, it is more interactive. We are also shooting outside. We did a debate about a lake in Bengaluru and we got the government officials, residents on the spot (by the lake) and did the show there.”
Being a purely consumer channel, it is differentiated by its content. Discussing the everyday issues of life, from crime and corruption to roads and traffic congestion and to grave issues like women’s safety, Mirror Now aims to demand accountability from powers that can drive improvement.
Anand is very clear that doing purposeful journalism alone will not help. “It has to make business sense to us. We are not going to launch a channel for niche viewership. Without any marketing effort, the channel already has 365 million reach. This is a commercially viable plan.”
Currently, the time spent for Mirror Now is between four to five minutes, an average channel is at seven to eight minutes.