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BTVI averages 18-20% share of the business news market: Megha Tata

Creating a mark in the business news genre, Business Television India (BTVI) has successfully completed two years. 

The channel started life as BTVI on August 1, 2016. The premier English business news channel seeks to bridge the gap between opinion seekers and opinion drivers. With news ranging from stock market and real estate to tax planning and global economics, BTVI focuses on bringing first-hand information from key influencers of the world to empower viewers with #Opinions That Count. 

In a short span, BTVI has created a niche for itself in India’s business news space, bringing news and views from the world of business, the stock markets and the economy for viewers on television and digital. As per BARC data for Week 34, BTVI ranks third among English business news channels with gross viewership of 123, after CNBC TV18 and ET Now [All India (U+R) : NCCS AB : Males 22+ Individual]. 

BTVI’s coverage and reportage have a very wide span. The channel has excelled in covering multiple, crucial areas including the insolvency and bankruptcy process, the effort to reduce India’s mountain of debt, the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax, the stock markets, daily caller shows covering listed stocks as well as the growing mutual fund segment among others. 

In a conversation with Adgully, Megha Tata, COO, BTVI, and Siddharth Zarabi, Executive Editor, BTVI, take us through the channel’s journey, content strategy, future plans and much more. Excerpts: 

How do you view BTVI’s journey so far?
Siddharth Zarabi: At this point the market is very crowded, which is not bad at all. Having said that, for BTVI, in last two years we have done very well in terms of giving out what we believe is relevant content. We offer a lot of content under ‘Save Invest Prosper’ category. We are more about helping people in making savings and investment decisions that lead to financial prosperity. The genre that we operate in doesn’t deal with all kinds of news; it is more about specialised kind of news and I think more than the numbers and ratings, what the entire team at BTVI takes care of is that we are managing to offer relevant content to the viewer, which is why a dozen of our shows are genre toppers. 

We have very deep engagement with the TV viewers and on social media as well. There is nothing different between me and the organisation that I am lucky to work for. BTVI was born just a few months before dramatic changes happened in the economy. The last two years have seen a lot of ups and downs because of GST and demonetisation. So, operating in this environment for journalists is very challenging. Our viewers’ profiles, too, change depending upon the content that we deliver. Therefore, we all have to adapt and personally that journey is very satisfying. 

Megha Tata: News business is very much focused and a small genre. We have few players out there and have also seen some exits, which show that at the end of day the content has to really work and connect with the viewers for any channel for that matter. The audience in the universe is very small and that’s why one has to look at alternative ways of reaching out to the audiences. There are some of the stuffs that we have done, which have really shown us a pathway to grow our audience. As a genre, it has not seen huge growth over the last few years, but it has evolved in terms of platform. For running a television channel, it is very easy to spend money, but if you want to make it a sustainable proposition, you have to look at alternative ways to reach out to the audience. 

At BTVI, we have gone beyond TV and have reached out to our digital audiences who consume this kind of content on other platforms as well. We do live streaming on IIFL app, Kotak app, HDFC security app, Axis app and a few others, because that is a very relevant audience for us and with this we have seen huge growth. In fact, recent data has depicted that we have crossed 1.2 million impressions as a result of that. We are also available on key OTT platforms like Hotstar, Jio, YuppTV and this is one of the key differentiators for us to show for audience aggregation. 

What is the TG that the channel caters to?
Siddharth Zarabi: We offer content which spans across a very wide target group. The purpose for the existence of financial and business news platforms in India is only to empower their viewers, listeners and readers. They give out the information that allows them to prosper. Our TG covers almost everybody who aspires. Our TG is extremely wide. I don’t think that we are narrow-focused on just serving one kind of viewer graph. I think we offer a lot of content that is dedicated to all kinds of people who look for financial and business news. We try and address almost everybody. 

What powers BTVI’s content strategy?
Siddharth Zarabi: Business news is extremely complicated. It is not like general news. It takes a higher level of understanding, depth and knowledge, along with the technical skills. If you look at the size of the economy, 10 years back we were nearly touching $1 trillion and since then we have grown into a much larger economy. So, a lot of news is generated  because India is one of the fastest growing nations, and to cover that you need specialised skills and the challenge in the Indian news generation context is that it is an extremely complicated market and we are 24x7 as news never ends or stops in India. 

I think, what’s happening in the Indian context is very important to notice. Our economy is changing a lot. From an unorganised economy structure now we are becoming very organised and formal. Our coverage is also reflecting those changes in the economy. We are guided by the pointers that are happening in the economy or markets for that matter. We can’t come out of our own agenda. 

At BTVI, we believe in serving our viewers with the best and relevant content by doing better than the others. I don’t claim to be No. 1 in general political coverage, but I can promise you that if you tune in to some of our political economy shows, they are amongst the best because a lot of research, work and intellectual efforts go behind it. So, we are business, stock market, equity, mutual funds, savings, investment, prosperity, corporate news and a bit of lifestyle for weekends, which also reflects in our ratings, where we offer diverse but selective kind of content. We don’t do things in which we are not good at. We will continue to do what the genre requires around the festive period. I can assure you that. 

What are the factors that help BTVI stand apart in the competitive era?
Siddharth Zarabi: We respect our competition and we do what we believe is good for our viewers. These are the parameters that BTVI works on. 

What is the size of the overall business news genre in terms of revenues? What is BTVI’s share of this market?
Megha Tata: Overall, the revenue size is estimated between Rs 400 crore and Rs 500 crore. 

When we started, we had about 2-4 per cent share and today we are averaging between 18 per cent and 20 per cent share within a short period of time. And it has been an organic growth. We believe that content has really played a significant role in achieving this. Also, our unique distribution and marketing strategy have helped us to achieve the reach numbers as well. 

Please tell us about your weekend strategy.
Siddharth Zarabi: The weekend strategy is an extension, continuation and natural progression of Business Plus. 

Megha Tata: We took this initiative of showing content around lifestyle and some lighter content on weekends because most of the people in this genre focus between 8 am and 4 pm. But there is life beyond 4 pm, so we started focusing beyond 4 pm as well. In the non-market hours today we are the leaders. That has been a very strategic plan which has worked in our favour and something we will continue to work on. 

Are there any partnerships in the pipeline?
Siddharth Zarabi: We believe in a multi-alignment strategy. And, while we have constantly evaluated and looked at new partners, I would say that we currently still work with three-four partners. In future, if any alliance comes to us then we will be more than glad to partner with them. 

How has the advertiser interest in the channel been?
Megha Tata: We have had great ad support from the advertisers’ end. Between last year and this year, we have grown to over 60 per cent and it has been great journey. We have some new and exclusive clients on board which is a big thing for a challenger brand and we have also done some interesting branded content pieces as well. 

Overall, there is general acceptance for our brand now. We have become a formidable player now and clients/ agencies are keen to engage with us. With this, the average rate on the channel has also grown up. 

How does the future look like?
Siddharth Zarabi: We intend to continue to grow by offering credible and honest content. By nature, we are not very flashy. We don’t make tall claims and don’t put our competition down. I believe if you are a market leader, you have to behave with certain dignity. We are a challenger brand and are pretty dignified.

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