For quite a
few years now, English general news channel NDTV 24X7 has enjoyed a near monopoly with more than 85 per cent share among the general English news channels. The other channel in this segment, Headlines Today, is really no competition to the market leader. (As per TAM data analysed by agencyfaqs!, C&S, 15+, Six Metros, Week 40-51, 2005)
Now with two new channels, CNN IBN and Times Now, entering the arena, industry experts are hoping that things will change. However, none of them are expecting a drastic change as happened in the Hindi news genre two years ago.
Anita Nayyar, managing director, Starcom, North India and Pakistan, says, "The viewership base of English news channels vis-à-vis Hindi news channels is too small, so you will see the new channels fight for the same pie, rather than increase the overall pie. But it won't be easy for the new channels to beat the leadership position enjoyed by NDTV 24X7 in the English news genre."
So what will decide the fate of these channels?
CVL Srinivas, managing director, Maxus, Asia Pacific, asserts that distribution will play a major role in the game. He says, "With very limited bandwidth left, the biggest challenge for any new channel is to have its distribution in place so that it reaches the maximum households."
With the Hindi news channels following the herd and using near-identical programming formats, differentiated content could help the new channels find their feet. Srinivas says, "The channels need to provide a fresh perspective to news coverage."
Kajal Malik, regional director, Optimum Media Solutions (OMS), elaborates on this, "The news channels need to have a judicious mix of analytical and speed news. For instance, if English news viewers are interested in analytical news in the evening, they are interested in speed news in the morning, which can update them quickly on the latest happenings. In addition, the new channels can also capitalise on more non-news programmes, the way NDTV did with 'Jai Jawan' or the Apsara Awards."
In fact, as per industry sources, Times Now will go beyond mere news coverage and feature chat shows and discussion forums as well. Nayyar says, "The packaging of the channel is also very impressive. It has the potential to break the clutter, provided it manages to reach many households."
Interestingly, both CNN IBN and Times Now are perceived to have an edge over NDTV with their respective international tie-ups. While CNN IBN has CNN as its partner, Times has the support of Reuters.
Media planners aren't too optimistic that international news will help the channels in a big way. As Srinivas of Maxus says, "The international tie-up won't have a major impact on the success of these two new channels, but it could certainly help the channels in the long run."
However, some media planners - Nayyar of Starcom, for example - are not too gung-ho about this. She says, "We have already seen the fate of international news channels such as BBC World and CNN in this country. So, I don't think the international tie-up will be of any major help for the channel."
Meanwhile, CNN IBN is also playing the Rajdeep Sardesai card. Nayyar of Starcom says, "The initial inquisitiveness of viewers to learn what the Rajdeep Sardesai channel looks like will certainly help the channel, just the way it helped NDTV 24X7 during its launch. But how much weight Sardesai can carry alone on his shoulders still needs to be seen. After all, the burden has to be shared by other anchors, too."
Even, Times Now has Arnab Goswami. Unfortunately, these two are the only popular faces these channels have. NDTV 24X7 has an advantage here as it has quite a few sub-brands, in the form of anchors, which it has built up over the years.
However, media planners are unanimous that even if the viewership pie of English news channels doesn't increase with the advent of the new players, the advertising pie has the potential to increase. Srinivas concludes: "Advertisers have a special interest in the English news channels as it is watched by the key decision makers of society." NDTV 24X7 has already proved that.
© 2005 agencyfaqs!