TV Today Network is all set to launch its fifth news channel, Aaj Tak HD, on December 14 with Tata Sky as exclusive launch partner. The first Hindi news channel in high definition will be available on other DTH and digital cable platforms across the country in coming days.
Confirming the channel’s launch exclusively with BestMediaInfo.com, Kalli Purie, Vice-Chairperson, India Today Group, said, “Aaj Tak has been the No. 1 channel since its launch in 2000 and we are all set to disrupt the cluttered Hindi news space yet again with the launch of Aaj Tak HD for affluent Hindi-speaking viewers.”
Purie said the channel would not only serve to affluent Hindi-speaking audiences in the top metros but will also reach out to the growing affluent classes in small cities.
"There is a whole class of people in tier-II, III towns who are very affluent. There are big billionaires coming up from small towns who own the local brands," she said.
Purie said there's a huge gap in the market as this target audience, which has high disposable income, is still looking for quality news and there was no channel serving it.
"The maximum number of luxury cars is not sold in Delhi and Mumbai but in smaller towns. We are not tackling those audiences. They are looking for quality news content in Hindi. We found the gap in the market and the HD channel will tap these audiences as well," she said.
“With a news channel, people may not necessarily want a higher quality video but more fast-paced content. Although a lot of programming will be similar to the existing channel, Aaj Tak HD will add a lot of international, business, fashion and entertainment content,” Purie said.
Relying heavily on subscription revenues, the channel will have a four-minute cap on ad breaks per hour. However, the channel is not sure how the upcoming TRAI’s Tariff Order will impact the subscription revenues.
The share of the Hindi news genre in the total TV viewership is 3.2% while English news contributes 0.05%. The total annual revenue of the Hindi TV news industry is in the range of Rs 1,700-1,800 crore while that of English news is in the range of Rs 800-1,000 crore.
Despite the huge margin in viewership, advertisers are skewed towards English news channels and pay them 4-6 times more than Hindi news channels in the name of affluent viewers. Targeted at the same set of affluent audience, Aaj Tak HD is eyeing ad rates similar to top English news channels.
While HD channels are must have medium in every marketer’s plan, they rarely get the premium because of the lack of differentiated content. Advertisers feel why should they pay premium for the same content and long ad breaks as SD feed.
“Unlike others, our HD feed will not be same as SD. With a completely different feed targeting a different audience, we are breaking a new ground. We will first offer the quality audience to the advertisers, show them the value and then open for advertising," Purie said.
HD channel viewership in India is slightly skewed towards the male audience with maximum viewership coming from young adults and adults (22-40 years). NCCS A is the largest contributor to HD channel viewership in India according to BARC.
Among the HD channels in India, 18% channels are Hindi language channels and command over 60% viewership while 38% English HD channels command over 12% viewership, as per industry estimates.
According to BARC India’s report on HD viewership in India, the viewership share has grown by more than 160% over the 2-year period from October 2015 to September 2017. From 2017 to 2018, the growth in viewership is estimated to be more than 55%.