AgTalk | The momentum is with us: India TV's Ritu Dhawan

Within a few years of its inception in 2004, India TV has become a leading Hindi news channel, owing its success to the vision of its Co-Founders Rajat Sharma and Ritu  Dhawan. The channel has created benchmarks in innovation, impact, ratings, time spends, and viewer-support. In today’s rampant me-too-ism, India TV is, perhaps, the only Hindi news channel that is perceived as “courageous” and “different.”

The channel’s No.1 position is no accident. It is the result of its founders leading the way on the lonely path of “credibility first.” It is the result of the efforts of a team who have kept their feet firmly on the ground and for whom the viewer’s interest has been paramount. The last few years have also seen India TV post steady numbers with almost a constant lead in terms of stickiness with a hard fought battle for the top spot in terms of  relative market share %. In the current scenario with the effects of Digitization in place, the battle for the top spot has been intense in the cluttered Hindi News Genre.

Recently India TV is embroiled in a battle of supremacy with ABP news. In its campaign ABP news stated that it has a share that is 5 times greater than the entire English news genre amongst the competition and is preferred by the affluent audiences. India TV in a counter response campaign that will run for three weeks has stated that it had a share that is 11 times greater than the English news genre in the same market amongst the same TG. Both the channels are relying on TAM data to base their claims. The campaign also compared Aaj Tak which is only 8 times bigger based on the same parameters.

As per TAM, the five English news channels (Times Now, NDTV 24X7, CNN IBN, Headlines Today & News X) currently together hold a share of 2.3 % and ABP News at 11.1 % share is approximately 5 times bigger, Aaj Tak is approximately 8 times bigger with a share of 17.6% and India TV with a share of 24% is 11 times bigger.

Competition in the Hindi news genre has always been very fierce with each channel claiming supremacy. However this campaign is only a recent happening and experts feel may soon be a thing of the past, we at Adgully caught up with Ritu Dhawan, Managing Director & CEO, India TV to know her views on much wider aspects. She has been an excellent journalist herself and a businesswoman par excellence, having won many an accolade for her contribution to growth of India TV and the society.

The following is the excerpt of the conversation.

Adgully (AG): What was the need for the India TV campaign? What was the brief and the positioning sought?

Ritu Dhawan (RD): There has been a sustained perceptual propaganda against us driven by our rivals. Despite the fact that we have been delivering much more on most parameters than the others in the genre, the whisper campaign of half truths continued against us. We thought that it’s time to set the record straight. The last 

few years have seen India TV post steady numbers with almost a constant lead in terms of stickiness with a hard fought battle for the top spot in terms of Relative shares. We thought it is high time that people knew the truth. We are just stating facts, nothing more nothing less.

AG: What does the initial feedback indicate?

RD: Although it is still early in the day, but we have been hearing lots of positive voices on the same, the way market has reacted, our objective is already met.

AG: In addition to the TAM data, what is your own assessment about India TV’s higher viewership?

RD: India TV’s higher viewership can be majorly attributed to the stickiness our content offers. The innovative way of presenting news has made India TV, viewers’ most preferred channel. Apart from TAM data it is the terrific number of calls we get for our dial in public interest shows and large number of viewers who approach India TV’s 24X7 response department- all that is an indication of higher and involved viewership.

AG: What reasons do you attribute to your success?

RD: It’s free, fearless and fair journalism through which India TV has been able to capture viewer’s attention. The man strongly standing behind us, Rajat Sharma - an inspiration, an exemplary leader, a visionary who has earned huge trust and support of the public over many years. His connect with the viewers is our strength. This coupled with the passionate work our team puts in as thorough professionals make us click as a unit.

AG: Do you think this leadership is sustainable? If yes where do you see India TV in the next two years?

RD: With News as a genre being just 4-6% of the universe the scope for growth of the genre is potentially high. Since 2007-08, news has gained viewership primarily due to high degree of innovations brought in by most players. Also the increase in number of players in this genre is another factor for the growth in general. Especially in terms of India TV, there has been an upward trend since inception. Since 2007-08 we have been right up there, and last 2-3 years have seen us cementing our leadership position. We are confident that the next couple of years will see us becoming the unchallenged leader in the space.

AG: With the digitization on, this campaign apart, what are your plans in the medium to long-term?

RD: Hindi News is a very crowded genre with almost 12-15 odd players competing with almost negligible differentiation in the stories. In such a short span, India TV has established itself by becoming the voice of its viewers. The critical area for us now clearly is to sustain our leadership position and hold our viewers’ loyalty. India TV effectively is in the best position in this genre to take on the challenge. The momentum is with us.

AG: How are competitive factors driving the Hindi news genre’s business? Is there anything new that you plan to do to engage more audience?

RD: The genre has experienced quite a few launches in past few years. This competition has acted as a blessing in disguise for all stakeholders including the channels, viewers & advertisers. Keeping viewers & their preferences in mind, the stiff competition has ensured constant innovations & content experiments and that has been the reason, news channels have become part of their (viewers’) lives. This has in turn translated into increased revenues. Not to engage more audiences per se, but to ensure that our existing viewers stay with us, we are planning reasonable investments – both intellectual & otherwise in development of quality content, improving our footprint, and in strengthening our research & marketing.


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