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News18 India’s share of HSM has increased to 10.5%: Prabal Pratap Singh

It’s been a year since Network18 Group rebranded its Hindi general news channel as News18 India. The channel’s digital presence was also revamped with the launch of a newly designed news18india.com. 

Post the rebranding, News18 India has been marching ahead with its tagline, ‘Danke Ki Chot Par, and has been focusing on creating a distinct position for itself in the Hindi General News category. The channel continues to ask even more pointed questions with an aim to challenge the status quo. Editorially, the thrust has been on constructive criticism and ensuring that its passion for fearless journalism results in a positive impact on the society. 

In line with its hard-hitting journalism, News18 India has broken several big stories and has come up with unique shows like ‘Operation Namak Haram’, ‘Surgical Strike Ka Sabot’, ‘Operation Doodh’ and many more. 

Prabal Pratap Singh, Managing Editor, News18 India, speaks to Adgully about the channel’s growth post rebranding, the key focus areas in the coming year, various digital initiatives and much more. Excerpts: 

What has the response been like for News18 India post the rebranding?
The channel is doing fairly well and the numbers are very encouraging. If you see the numbers, it has grown up almost by 100 per cent. Earlier, we were at 5.8 per cent in HSM (Hindi Speaking Market), but now it has increased to 10.5 per cent.  Our prime time numbers have also shown a positive shift from 7.2 to 14.2. 

In the midst of rapid developments happening around, how differently News18 India has been tackling these issues?

To keep on creating different content around an ongoing issue, we sometimes do sting operations as well. Recently, following the Pradyuman murder case in Ryan International School, we did a sting operation of the sub-inspector who was the first to reach that spot. We were the only ones to interview the conductor, who was earlier considered to be the accused, and his family. We had everybody in the studio, and at the same time we stayed on the field to cover that news. We focus on some three-four major news for the day. 

What are the key factors driving News18 India’s strategy to maintain its competitive advantage?

We were the first channel to introduce back-to-back debate shows with two different anchors from 7-9 pm. We have also boosted our outdoor debate, which airs at 6 pm. Thus, we have three hours of continuous debate shows. For 9 pm, we have ‘Sau Baat Ki Ek Baat’, which is the second most popular programme in HSM, wherein we showcase some 70-80 stories a week. In the 10-10.30 pm slot, we have ‘Kaccha Chitha’, where we take one topic and the entire half an hour is dedicated to that topic. 

What have been the digital initiatives and efforts in the mobile space?

If anybody wants to access our site via mobile, they do not have to stare a lot on the screen to read the news. We have designed our site with the thought that a lot of people will use mobile phone to access the news in coming months or years. Thus, if someone wants to read the news on our site, it is very smooth to navigate. The site is very neat and clean. Beside this, before starting with the debate, the anchor of the show goes live on Facebook with the respective topic that they will cover for that day. Even for our 6 pm show, we do polls related to the topic to garner more traction digitally. 

What will be your key focus areas in the coming year?
Since this is the election time, our primary focus is on the elections. Next year, too, we will have elections in four states and that will set the agenda for the 2019 general elections. We will focus more on hardcore political coverage in the coming years. 

What kind of reach has been observed post the inclusion of rural data in the ratings?
If we look at the numbers, we are getting equal responses from the urban and rural sections. The strategy that we have adopted for the channel’s growth is being treated well in both urban and rural markets.

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