Alokananda Chakraborty

CNBC carves a niche in the OOH segment

Last year, CNBC decided to target both specific audience segments and the elusive out-of-home category. A year on, the strategy seems to have paid off

For a niche channel, talking to the right audience can be crucial. Sometimes that can involve taking to multiple audiences, at different times of the day. It is something that CNBC India (a service of Dow Jones and NBC brought to India by the joint venture between Television Eighteen and CNBC Asia) fully appreciates.

The channel has divided its core offering into hardcore financial news and analysis, which is targeted at corporate viewers in their offices, and ‘magazine' programmes such as Storyboard (which is about to complete one year on the channel), which take a deeper look at vertical segments in the industry, such as the mutual fund community, the advertising community, and the management community.

At the heart of this programming strategy was an attempt to capture an elusive segment of the audience - the businessman on the move - or, as the trade parlance has it, the out of home (OOH) category. Says Haresh Chawla, chief executive, CNBC India, "Till the advent of CNBC, OOH viewing was negligible. In other words, TV viewing was restricted to the confines of the home. With the emergence CNBC, keeping in touch with business real-time through television has become part of the new work ethic."

In one way, the programming strategy that the channel followed was a response to the need to carve a niche for itself. Soon after its launch in December 1999, CNBC India targeted the money markets. The channel strengthened its news and business coverage, but that was an audience that many of the other channels - either as part of their regular business coverage, or as specials - had covered. So the channel moved into a series of programmes in the evening band that addressed different audience segments - IT professionals, advertising executives, mutual fund investors and so on.

The channel has consistently tried to gain a substantial audience among this elusive segment, combining its programming with off-line attempts to address its core audience, such as hosting events like the Budget Round Table, the Moody's Mutual Fund Awards, and the Auto India Awards. The idea arose from the channel's need to consolidate its position among ‘Super SEC A' audience, comprising the financial community, chief executive officers and the middle management.

One of the programmes that had been launched a year ago, with this specific idea in mind, was Boardroom. The programme was back on the channel last week with the announcement of the Infosys results. The idea of the show was simple - a behind the scenes look at the management of top companies immediately after they announced their quarterly or annual results. This year the channel will feature HLL, Reliance, Hero Honda, Britannia, Telco, NIIT, Bajaj Auto, Satyam Computers and a slew of corporate majors from across industry sectors. At the same time, the show also focuses on corporate governance, accounting, and the future prospects of corporate India. "Boardroom is aired during office hours and is keenly followed by corporates, analysts and investors alike as it is the only show that brings the top management of companies to a live forum to discuss their performance and future immediately after they have announced their results," says Chawla.

At the same time, another of the channel's key properties, the Indian version of Storyboard, a 30-minute look at the world of media, marketing and advertising, has nearly completed one year. Chawla explains its positioning thus. "The OOH audience catches programmes on CNBC during office hours; Storyboard is played during the evening and is not specifically targeted at the OOH." Observes a senior media planner, "The strategy of segmenting the audience has yielded good results. Though the TRP figures are low, the channel does have a reputation of being widely watched in its audience segment."

Divide and rule was a gamble that the channel took early last year. Right now, believes the channel brass, the strategy is starting to pay off. © 2002 agencyfaqs!

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