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Republic Bharat is the new leader vis-a-vis the homogenous channels in the category, claims Vikas Khanchandani

In an interview with BestMediaInfo.com, the Group CEO of Republic Media Network talks about the success of Hindi news channel Republic Bharat in its first year

Republic Media Network’s Hindi news venture, Republic Bharat which completed a year in the Hindi news market, has seen amazing success in terms of viewership and build stronger partnerships with its advertisers and agency partners. One of the top players in the Hindi news market, Republic Bharat aims at further strengthening its performance and business reveals Khanchandani.

In an interview with BestMediaInfo, Khanchandani says Republic Bharat’s differentiated approach is driving a huge amount of visibility for the brand. “If you see in this one year we have managed to achieve, probably no other news broadcaster has achieved in such a short period of time. We have gone right to the top in reach, performance and impact, with a differentiated product, which has been embraced by the Hindi heartland,” he said.

Excerpts:

1.      On the first anniversary of Republic Bharat, how would you describe your ride considering the ups and downs in both viewership and market conditions?

I’ll answer that question without keeping the market conditions because market conditions are something which is not in our control, but the performance of the channel is.

 I would say it was a fantastic year to launch Hindi news, it wasn’t timed but all we knew is we wanted to be there before the general elections so we could ride the wave with huge consumption expected within the genre. So in a sense, we were in a rush to make sure the brand could be established quickly with the large sampling expected on the build up to the 2019 Elections.

2019 ended up being a very critical news year, the Balakot  attack and the Pulwama news, an unfortunate news event become the largest ever news television event in the history of Indian Television thus far, and the viewers  got a flavour of what Republic Bharat, with its differentiated content strategy and a sharper positioning in “Rashtra Ke Naam”. Republic Bharat sampling and reach swelled to reach a phenomenal volume surpassing most of others within the genre. So in that sense, we are fortunate to have launched the brand and be a part of the 2019 calendar year, of news events.

We are very happy that both the brands have leadership within the genre and are commercially doing very well. The window of opportunity for media brands can be short and as a team we have worked extremely hard to deliver a leader brand within the category. Our objective will be to solid our position on performance and commercial and significantly scale up our digital business.

The below table carries unduplicated reach generated by all Hindi News channels since the launch of R.Bharat on Feb 2, 2019

2.  News is usually bought for reach and Republic Bharat looks sorted there as it is consistently among top-3 in terms of reach. What else needs to be done to become advertisers’ primary choice?

Hindi news today delivers massive reach and stands tall with other genres. Initially people said it’s something new, let’s try it, that’s how people sampled it, that also is not an easy job when there are more than 15 players in a genre, but I think there was this expectation that because it's coming from Republic brand, we are a serious player, to some extent there was this belief. What was unsure is that will we will be able to create a market in such a cluttered and crowded market place, that we have been through.

Brands understand that the pecking order has changed. The market share between the top channels had reduced dramatically. Republic Bharat is differentiating on its content strategy and delivering massive exclusive audiences for the brand. This in return is adding incremental audiences to the media plan which is unique to Republic Bharat. Infact the brand is leading the entire news genre in delivering the highest exclusive reach within the Genre as seen in the table.

What are your top pitch-points for on-boarding a rigid client?

Clients are either looking for impact or ROI.  Republic Bharat is probably amongst very few within the genre that is giving real value to its advertisers by giving them both ROI and Impact.  Since we were new entrants in the market, we were far more nimble than others and able to give more customisation and value to our partners. We have managed to win their confidence and we are extremely grateful to them. I am confident we will be able to keep winning their confidence and support.

I don’t find clients to be rigid, you might agree or disagree on the value that someone brings to the table. I believe our team is very good at making our partners achieve their objectives.

There are some advertisers who are quality conscious. There are some who want to be seen as neutral. How do you handle such clients?

I feel every advertiser is conscious about who they want to associate with. This choice is a combination of performance of the channel and the quality of content and thereby the audience they deliver.

I find a lot of owner driven business across markets that factor aspect beyond numbers. We found huge support from these companies  who had immense belief in Arnab and the team. They had huge conviction in the brand and most of those partners have been on board from the day the channel went on air.

We have the highest number of brand counts from the east, and I saw a similar support coming in from other markets as well.  Our focus now is to scale up these relationships with integrated solutions and long term partnerships.

You claim to have been doing better with news when others are playing entertainment or downloaded video shows in certain slots. Do brands make a note of it at all?

Absolutely. This is deeply imbedded in our DNA and something that Arnab spoke about before launch of Repunlic Bharat, i.e. we will bring News back to the genre. The data is truly a reflection of what the consumer wants i.e. News and serious news. The fact that the channel is getting more than 15% share in the afternoon proves that the audiences are done with a certain format of content. The belief that some of these entertainment formats are relevant and preferred has been proven wrong.

My belief is that the audiences delivered on pure news will be affluent, business driven, focussed and will deliver higher ROI for our advertiser partners. 

Below table depicts how viewers have moved away from entertainment / viral video formats to Pure 100% News in the afternoon.

Time spent is something the channel is struggling with. What improvement in content could tackle this challenge?

I don’t see a challenge with time spent. Republic Bharat is right up there in terms of time spent and when it comes to critical news events we see far higher time spent than others as consumers go their preferred choice of channels and spend higher time with brands they trust and love.

Apart from numbers, our partners and advertisers see Republic Bharat as a leader brand delivering quality audiences, impact and a lot of value. Republic Bharat has the widest distribution across markets. The same can be seen on the RW Data shown below:

  Source: RW | Wk03'20 1

What is your vision for Republic Bharat as you enter the second year?

We would like to strengthen our position and move towards making Republic Bharat Number #1 Hindi News brand of the country focussed on 100% News content. We would like to create impactful campaigns for and with our advertisers/agency partners in the coming year.

Info@BestMediaInfo.com

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