Network18's extensive election coverage offers vast brand engagement opportunities: Mitul Sangani

In an exclusive conversation with BestMediaInfo, Sangani emphasised that it's not just about TV advertising anymore as digital platforms are also significant, especially post-pandemic. Network18, being both a TV and digital network, offers a comprehensive reach for brands

Sakshi Sharma
New Update
Network18's extensive election coverage offers vast brand engagement opportunities: Mitul Sangani

Mitul Sangani

The forthcoming general elections are poised to be a landmark moment for Network18, Mitul Sangani, CEO of the Regional Cluster at Network18, said while emphasising that their coverage will be both extensive and all-encompassing, spanning linear and digital platforms, and this holistic approach will provide a prime opportunity for brands to leverage the entire Network18 network.

In an exclusive conversation with BestMediaInfo, Sangani also highlighted that it's worth noting that it's not just about TV advertising anymore as digital platforms are also significant, especially post-pandemic. Network18, being a leader on both TV and digital networks, offers a comprehensive reach for brands.

While speaking about the recent performance of News18’s regional news channels, Sangani said, “Our emphasis has been on regional markets as we firmly believe that these markets hold the greatest potential for growth within our network. Notably, we have maintained our leadership position in the Gujarati market for the past seven to eight months. We have made huge inroads in Marathi and are firm number two. Furthermore, in several other markets, we have consistently  observed positive improvements.”

“We are dedicated to understanding and addressing the needs and expectations of our consumers. This includes refining our content mix to align with the current demands of our audience and the prevailing trends in the industry,” he added.

Sangani also shed light on the expectations in terms of viewership and content engagement for Network18’s regional channels, saying that the network primarily has a special focus on festive content-based regional needs during the festive season.

“For instance, during Ganesh Chaturthi, we provided extensive coverage. Similarly, we have extensive coverage during Navratra and Pooja in Bengal and Gujarat markets. During the festive season, consumers seek customised content, and we consistently deliver that. Overall, our channel's primary focus is to provide extensive coverage. In summary, our content mix is tailored to the season's demands, and we aim to do so on a large scale.”

While sharing insights into how Network18 is preparing its regional channels for comprehensive coverage ahead of the 2024 general elections, Sangani emphasised that Network18 is the largest news network in India, with a significant national and regional presence as well as a strong business footprint.

“This allows us to provide extensive news coverage. During national elections, we will have election coverage from all the country's districts. We will also see high viewership on all our channels and digital platforms due to exhaustive multilingual election coverage” Sangani said.

“We have a comprehensive content plan in progress, including the use of AI to enhance our election coverage. Additionally, we are covering the rural market with our hyperlocal initiative, local18. Many exciting developments are in the pipeline, and you can expect to see the innovations we are discussing soon,” he added.

On being asked how different/difficult or easy is selling regional language news platforms in comparison to Hindi, Sangani pointed out that regional markets are primarily influenced by retail advertisers. When a brand wants to target a specific audience in certain regions, regional advertising becomes crucial. It helps reach the local population and cater to their language preferences.

“In essence, regional advertising is the key to connecting with these audiences. It's not a matter of whether it is easy or difficult, but rather a necessary part for brands aiming to establish themselves in these markets. Providing quality content and establishing a strong presence in these regions can significantly enhance a brand's success in monetising their efforts,” he added.

With a significant rise in advertising during the festive season, Sangani shared some insights into what is driving this surge in ad spending.

He highlighted that when it comes to festivities, it's a time when people are eager to spend, and brands want to connect with consumers. During these periods, online searches tend to focus on specific things. For instance, if we consider regional customers, reaching them typically requires language-specific platforms. This search trend aims to make the most of the festive season.

“On the other hand, (general) elections are significant events, especially for news channels as they occur only once every five years. In terms of advertising spending, during elections, the majority of the audience is tuned into what's happening in the political landscape, making it a prime opportunity for brands. Consequently, there's a notable surge in advertisers and brands wanting to be seen on news platforms,” Sangani said.

“We see this upcoming election as a significant event for Network18. Our coverage will be extensive and comprehensive, encompassing both offline and online platforms. It's an all-encompassing approach where brands can make the most of the entire Network18. Our election coverage will be multidimensional, spanning TV and digital. We believe this approach will be key for our election coverage, benefiting brands in the process,” he added.

As ad rates tend to increase during election and festive seasons, Sangani shared how the network works with advertisers to ensure that these premium ad placements provide the expected value.

“To create value, we need to engage our audience, whether it's on our platform or channel. Brands should see a return on their investment with our content-centric approach. We believe our users come to our platform and spend time on our channel because of our content. Whether it's elections or festive occasions, we have special programming that caters to consumer needs, resulting in increased channel ratings,” Sangani said.

While comparing the trends in advertising during elections and the festive season this year with the same periods last year, Sangani said that the festive season is underway, it looks fine but we must consider that the timing is different. This time, it coincides with the World Cup, so it's not a direct comparison.

“Regarding the upcoming elections, it's still six to eight months away, and it's too early to gauge its impact. It's worth noting that it's not just about TV advertising anymore. Digital platforms are also significant, especially post-COVID. Network18, being a leader on both TV and digital networks, offers a comprehensive reach for brands. So, brands should consider a holistic approach” he added.

On being asked how Network18 ensures brand safety in the context of advertisements placed alongside polished conversations, Sangani said, “We are a network that values a balanced perspective. We have various checks and balances in place to ensure the quality of our content. Brands and agencies we work with have not reported any issues with our content. We are conscious of this and strive to maintain trust.”

General Elections World Cup digital News channel Mitul Sangani regional election linear advertisers brands Network18 festive season