Good News Today, the upcoming 24x7 news channel from the India Today Group, has got a lot of advertisers excited even before its launch.
Talking to BestMediaInfo.com, Shashank Srivastava, Executive Director, Marketing and Sales, Maruti Suzuki India, said the channel fills a vacuum as people do not want to consume negativity.
“I think there is a big lacuna in the overall structure of content in Indian TV. So, I think this will be a great segment to occupy, and there are lots of people wanting to be more positive and optimistic, rather than taking the daily dose of toxicity and negative news that come across most channels. So, I think in that sense, it will be a great segment and it could be a winning formula,” he said.
Asked if he would consider advertising on such a channel, Srivastava said, “Yes, certainly, we have a very large portfolio and a huge geographical spread. We have a very wide audience. We cater to different types of consumers because of our wide portfolio and certainly this segment, which appreciates positivity. It will obviously be a segment that will appeal to us. We will definitely be looking at it very seriously to invest in such content programming.”
The auto giant spends over Rs 30 crore annually on news channels.
Talking about the difference in news content after BestMediaInfo.com’s series on increasing toxicity in news channels, he said the change has been visible in terms of content and it is better for brands to advertise where they are assured of brand safety.
Do you see any visible change on news television after BestMediaInfo started a countrywide debate around toxic content?
Yes, although there is no measurement of toxicity. The problem with the toxic content is that while you can recognise the content as toxic, measurement is a little difficult. But subjectively, I can say that it seems there has been some effect since.
How did the toxicity on news channels impact the entire atmosphere?
It's obvious that if you have less toxicity, it is better for the atmosphere. But as a marketer, we always have to grapple between those ratings and the marketing objective, which is basically about reach, readership and viewership and so on. But at the same time, there is this sort of corporate responsibility of not supporting toxicity if you find a channel very toxic.
Who defines what is toxic has always been a problem for marketers. So, the general principle is less toxicity is better. But how to define that and how to measure is a basic problem for marketers.
According to you, what should an ideal news channel be like?
Which has a better rating, obviously. And the other thing is a more geographic spread.
There are a lot of channels that are vernacular and specific to the audience. Then it's a little bit more nuanced and difficult, considering the geographies.
But it's easier if the geographical spread is large and the viewership is large. And of course, if the content is cleaner, it is so much better.
There is nothing like ideal content though because we have so many different types of people, especially in a diverse country like India. Each of them has different criteria of what is right and what is wrong.
But obviously, common good sense should prevail. There should be some basic hygiene in terms of content.
Sensing the public mood, India Today Group recently announced the launch of a 24x7 Hindi news channel called Good News Today. What potential do you see in such a media channel as a marketer?
We have had so much negative news regarding health or even other aspects that I think there is a big lacuna in the overall content structure in Indian TV. The positives are lacking. So, I think this will be a great segment to occupy. There are a lot of people wanting to be more positive and optimistic rather than taking the daily dose of negativity and negative news that come across most channels. It will be a great segment and it could be a winning formula.
Would you bet on this channel?
Yes, certainly. We have a very large portfolio and a huge geographical spread. We have a very wide audience and reach is very important to us as we cater to different types of consumers, including a huge segment that appreciates positivity and positive news.
This is obviously a segment that will appeal to us. We will definitely look at it very seriously to invest in such content programming.
In general, how much do you invest in a news channel? What about the parameters of picking up a new channel?
We spend 14% of our total TV spend on news channels. We are looking at increasing it because for our target group, news consumption is a high affinity.
For us, news will always be important. But as I said, we look at large geography. GEC as well as sports are also important, but for impact news is big.
What are your parameters of picking a news channel?
We normally look at television news channels that are among the top three-four, whether it is Hindi or English, business or regional.
Vernacular is important for us as far as news is concerned. In terms of content, we do a hygiene check because we look at brand safety.
Informative content across genres, be it auto, tech, education, food, personal finance, is getting premium from brands for the targeted and quality audiences. Does such content on television change the way marketers were seeing news television?
Yes, I think so. As I said, content obviously is very important. So, suppose there is a sports channel or some sports news, for example. There will be a particular type of people who will look at that channel. If it is based on some other content such as education, then there's some other category of people. Marketers identify those segments. They go for segmentation for larger impact. But for frequency and reach, more generalised genres are preferred.
With stickiness comes premium. What else would it take to bring a news channel on a par with a GEC when it comes to ad rates?
I think somehow the measurement indicates that the news channel has just 7-8% of the total population compared with GECs or sports. So, I think fundamentally, it has to be marketed both for impact as well as affinity rather than just pure reach. I think the problem with media agencies is that they recommend to clients and marketers about channels with reach as it's easy to show them general CPRP. I feel news channels with big impact have to show how different segments have better affinity for news compared to GECs, which are more general and may not appeal to all marketers.