Ashish Bagga, Group CEO, India Today Group, tells IMPACT that India Today Television has delivered on its promise of ‘bringing news back’ and shown high growth in ratings since its launch on May 23 this year
Q] How has the exercise of extending the India Today brand name to Headlines Today worked for the India Today Group over the last couple of months?
The English news genre had over time become dominated by ceaseless debates and avoidable noise... Something that our advertising agency aptly termed as a circus! The space to enter was clear - a gap that could be filled only by a credible brand that can bring news back. This launch was perhaps the most successful media launch in recent times with the new channel delivering high growth from the launch week itself as per the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) ratings. In the second week, it even displaced the genre leader. But more than numbers, what is most satisfying is the fact that we’ve been able to put together a future-ready news channel that embodies the old journalistic principles. The pull of the India Today brand has ensured an increase in viewership and viewer confidence for the new brand.
Q] What difference has the India Today brand name made in terms of ratings for the news channel, as compared to when it was Headlines Today?
On a week by week average before and after the launch of the new channel, India Today Television has shown the highest growth in the genre while other channels even showed negative growth during the same period. This clearly establishes the acceptance of the India Today brand among news viewers. On a comparative level with Headlines Today, the average weekly market-share for a four week period since the launch of India Today Television has increased from 11% to 23%. The brand extension, therefore, has paid off.
Q] You set out to integrate Digital, Print, Television, Events and Mobile with this rebranding exercise... How far has the convergence happened and what tangible benefit have you derived?
The convergence of platforms has ensured that India Today is on the stands, online and on air, giving it a unified yet multiplying presence. The convergence has helped us maximize the utilisation of an unmatched content turbine. The Print, Digital, Events and TV platforms of the India Today brand effectively complement each other. Cover stories on the magazine that involve a lot of research are regularly prime time news on the channel and main topics drawing interactivity on the digital platforms. Similarly, breaking stories on TV become detailed special reports in the magazine format.
Q] What have been some of the new offerings on India Today TV that could be its USP over others?
We aim to be the definitive knowledge source for viewers. What makes the channel different is the pioneering visual format which allows choice, and moves the power to the viewer. You can observe multiple news updates simultaneously on the screen, breaking free from linear delivery. Two big breaking stories can be followed at the same time with tons of data and many researched angles. The digitally inspired screen with innovative elements like the roller deck has redefined the news viewing experience on television. It is here that India Today Television is ahead of the curve.
Q] Which shows have garnered the maximum TRPs, and which ones are the premium drivers of the India Today channel?
Key shows on the channel drive exceptional premium - especially the Prime Team of Rajdeep Sardesai, Karan Thapar and Rahul Kanwal. Our advertising rates have gone up multifold in these bands. The Newsroom actually takes the viewer to where the news is, and breaks away from a monotone of studio-centered armchair delivery of news. Marquee feature shows like the Men’s Health show have topped the ratings chart frequently. A series of power interviews have added enormous equity to the growing brand.
Q] Do you feel you have got ROI from marketing spends on the campaign to relaunch the channel?
As per TAM, the India Today Television TVCs were exposed to over 53% of the target universe out of which 22% have tuned into India Today Television in the first three weeks itself (Source: TAM, TG: CS 25+ AB M, 6 Metros, Period: Wk 22-24’15). At least 80% new viewers have tuned into the channel over the first three weeks. According to BARC numbers, the TVCs were exposed to near 50% (8.4 million viewers) of the target universe set in the 6 megacities (Source: BARC, Male 22+ NCCS AB). Over 1.4 million of these viewers have tuned into India Today Television with a whopping conversion rate between 15 to 20%. Sun TV, Sony TV, Sony Max, Aaj Tak and Colors were the main channels driving this conversion. Ogilvy & Mather and Piyush’s involvement helped us crack the umbrella thought of the campaign. Media agency Maxus helped us put an integrated media plan in place. Insights from both BARC and TAM with their exceptional tools helped us narrow down to a behavioural dynamic news consuming target. The channel opened with record-breaking numbers. We have exceeded all expectations on the delivery of the media plan.
Q] What’s on your list of immediate priorities – what are the steps you have chalked out for the next six months for India Today Television?
India Today Television will stay true to the ethos of journalism that has made the India Today brand among the most respected news brands for around four decades. We are sure these principles along with the ground-breaking content format will ensure preference for the channel among viewers. With the channel getting stronger, we are all set to revise the advertising rates upwards.