Television news network TV9 has announced it is going to launch News9 Plus, an English video news magazine in an OTT format.
The digital descendent of News9 - the network’s erstwhile English news channel out of Bengaluru – News9 Plus is slated for a beta launch this month and a full-scale take off late March.
It will be the a pureplay subscription-driven, on-demand news product. It will showcase news, narratives, and debates with the depth and gravitas of news magazines and the production qualities and story-telling techniques of OTT platforms.
Barun Das, CEO, TV9 Network, said, "Historically, the Indian news genre has undermined itself with a huge self-created handicap. It has never leveraged India's core strength - its large consumer base. Newspapers have always subsidised the reader and TV news channels are mostly free to air. Hence, we have lived with tremendous pressure on ad revenue. On the other hand, consumers have just about started paying for digital news. However, this propensity to pay for digital news will depend on how effectively digital news platforms can serve the consumer ‘what they want, when they want’.”
"The English news television space has shrunk dramatically over the past few years in viewership and revenue. So, it seemed obvious to us that this English-speaking audience - often the early adapters - are waiting for an OTT news service. To my mind, linear news television will make way for OTT news service in the near future. Hindi and regional language markets may continue in the current linear TV mode for some more time, but it is certainly time for a cutting-edge OTT news offering in English which marries the best UI/UX that technology can offer with incisive, in depth, intelligent and engaging content. News9 Plus will strive to be that exact amalgam.”
Das went on to add that news must adapt to the “new, exacting content standards which the ‘GenFlix’, or Generation Netflix, has become accustomed to. News9 Plus will fill the void created by the diminishing footprint of news magazines in the digital era. And it will do it in the only medium the digital native cares about: video.”
Sounding a note of caution for the news industry, he added, "We are proud to be the first OTT news service, not only in India but possibly in the world. I sincerely hope that when the OTT news service pans out in India, it will not repeat the blunders of the past in creating its own death trap by setting off subscription price wars and rendering the business unviable. I am certain this new model will be an SVOD (subscription-based video on demand) model and advertising revenue, if any, will make only a minuscule contribution."
To begin with, News9 Plus plans to host a variety of ‘rail tracks’ that will cater to the news of the day for the purpose of providing context to the extensive programming that will define the app. It will showcase editorially rich, long shelf-life content that has relevance beyond the immediate.
According to BV Rao, Group Editor, TV9 Network, News9 Plus is all about the Network meeting the future even as it is unfolding. “At TV9 Network, it is clear to us where the discerning English news viewer is going and why. The ‘GenFlix’ English news viewers are not running away from news. They are running away from the cacophony that television news has come to represent. Exposed as they are to the best of the best global content on OTT, these discerning news viewers do not relate to the 'you bite me, I bite you' journalism that has struck deep roots on television. ‘GenFlix’ has no appetite for such content. So, the future news business battles will have to be fought in the OTT environment. For us, that future is now. And we call it News9 Plus."