Headlines Today finally catching up with Indian viewers

By , agencyfaqs! | In | December 15, 2004
The channel's recent brush with success is due to the changes in its programming format and the presence of new anchors

From a channel with negligible recall, English news channel Headlines Today has witnessed a steady growth in viewership.

Since early October, the channel has had a constant increase in terms of market share. As per TAM Media Research, (C&S, 15+, SEC AB, six metros), the channel share of Headlines Today among English channels has increased from 9 per cent in week 40 (starting October 3) to 20 per cent in week 47 (starting November 21).

Headlines Today was launched in March 2003 and it took almost an year for the channel to get a respectable market share. In comparison, NDTV 24X7 became the market leader, despite its launch after Headlines Today. But then, NDTV had the advantage of having a strong brand image thanks to its association with STAR even before the channel was launched.

Rajesh Sheshadri, spokesperson, Headlines Today, says, "The viewers have taken a while to understand the distinct identity of Headlines Today.”

The channel's recent brush with success is also due to the changes in its programming format and the presence of new anchors. Media planners say the programming format and presentation style during the initial days of Headlines Today did not gel with the tastes of Indian viewers.

This is probably why the channel changed. Sheshadri says, "The changes have been both at the content and presentation levels. All changes are naturally a part of a larger strategy to make the channel offering as viewer friendly, interactive and comprehensive as possible.”

For instance, the channel has introduced a 15 minutes news bulletin, Headstart, in the morning, where all major stories of the day are reviewed spanning politics, general and sports. Sheshadri explains the strategy behind this. "We realised that most of our urban audiences need to be in tune with the latest news developments of the day and yet they don't have the time on a regular working day to watch the morning news.”

Hiren Pandit, general manager, MindShare, says, "Sleeker and crisper content have certainly brought in viewers to the channel but a stronger distribution network has also contributed to the channel's increasing market share. ”

While the channel has certainly managed to strengthen its distribution network, it is still not available at a few pockets across metros. Sheshadri says, "We did face some challenges in network connectivity during the initial months of the launch of Headlines Today. But distribution is a constant process and our first objective is to see that the channel is available in all markets. Once that is done, our aim will be to strengthen the channel's position in markets, where it is already present.”

Enthused with the current performance of the channel, Headlines Today has launched a new campaign based on the central theme of "News, crisply told”. Sheshadri says, "The campaign seeks to communicate that Headlines Today stands for removing the over analysis and undue complexity, which dominates the news coverage style of its competitors. Today's urban viewers want their news " short, sharp and crisp. It's consistent with the overall brand message of Headlines Today that is Sharp news for Sharp People”.

The focus is to have a consistent message across all media and executions ranging from print and outdoor to the partnerships through contests etc.

Sheshadri offers an answer to the apparent abberation of the channel taking more than a year to start promoting its product. He says, "First, we wanted the content and distribution to be in place. And when that objective was realised, we decided to promote the channel.”

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