The advertising and media fraternity might have strong views on the content on India TV, but the advertisers just can't ignore the channel. If things go the same way, the advertisers might be even ready to pay a premium.
India TV, which for the past few weeks has been claiming the leadership position currently seeks ad rates at par with the other lead channels - Aaj Tak and STAR News. The 10- second ad spot on the top three Hindi news channels are sold in the range of Rs 2000 and Rs 3000.
Amita Karwal, executive vice-president, Karishma Initiative, says, "India TV and Aaj Tak are still very close - the gap between the two is not very wide. It's now a question of which channel manages to remain No.1 - the truth is that India TV has been growing steadily for the last couple of weeks. Aaj Tak and others will have to react to the competition by making changes in programming."
Sriram Sharma, general manager, Bengaluru, Starcom states that owing to its encouraging performance India TV is pushing on advertisers for a hike in rates.
The question is, whether media buyers are ready to give up to this pressure.
Anita Nayyar, chief executive officer, MPG, suggests, "There is very little difference in the performance of the top three Hindi news channels. Even when they exchange pole positions, there is very little room for a single player to register a jump of 5-6 per cent. On the content front, too, there does not exist much of a difference amongst the leading channels."
Sharma is also of the opinion that this hike can only be implemented in case of fresh deals that the news channel cracks.
He explains, "Most of the deals are annual deals. Agencies punt on a particular channel hoping that it will perform well. So rates are not revised mid-way. It's going to be a wait and watch game."
On the other hand, Nayyar of MPG also feels that Aaj Tak which always stuck to its rate card, owing to its prominence as the No.1 channel in the Hindi news space for a long time, will now feel the pressure to soften its rates.
"Aaj Tak has been the only channel which never made room for any tangible benefits to advertisers by making relaxations in its rate card. With India TV's success, this should change," adds Nayyar.
Another senior media planner admits that it's a sticky situation for all. And lot of things dependent on the clout that an agency enjoys in the industry and with the client.
Going forward, the trick is to maintain consistent performance and retain the No.1 tag. What works in India TV's favour, says Karwal, is that the channel has been growing steadily for the last couple of weeks.