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News18 unveils its trump card ahead of Counting Day; sees huge advertiser traction

It has been a busy time for all news channels due to the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections. Now, with the Elections entering its final phase and then the Counting Day on May 23, the buzz has reached a crescendo. 

The News18 Network, with its vast regional base along with national presence, has been seeing huge traction from advertisers and viewers alike. 

News18 is now gearing up for the remaining battles on the Election front with a slew of innovative measures. 

Karan Abhishek Singh, CEO – Languages, News18 Network, who joined the organisation in January 2019, speaks to Adgully on the various innovations and content strategy as well as audience and advertiser response to its poll coverage. Excerpts: 

How is the regional news media strategising its content as the 2019 Elections enter the final phase?
The Lok Sabha Elections 2019 have captured the imagination of the country. Being a 7-phased process, regional news channels have been able to deliver regional connect while keeping the Big Picture intact. It’s been an exciting journey so far. These Elections are fairly hard fought and that has brought unforeseen interest from viewers and advertisers in the coverage by the news channels. We expect this to build into a crescendo as we enter the last phase of the Elections, leading to the counting day and subsequently to the formation of the new Government. 

What would be your strategy be for the Counting Day on May 23?
We at News18 are deploying the Magic Wall. It is an AI-driven proprietary technology of News18. This new-age analytical tool that will analyse real-time data from counting centers, throw up numbers about the leads and trails much ahead of our competitors, taking the channel to a different level in terms of reportage. The Magic Wall is a product for the evolved viewer. Network18’s election data team has amassed details of each and every factor that impacts voting across seats, regions and states. These include demographics like age, income, gender and classifications like caste dominance, social sector schemes, agrarian distress, industrial growth. This unique database has been created from on-ground data collected by News18’s regional network. 

What kind of viewer experience will Magic Wall provide that will set apart News18’s content?
As I said, Magic Wall is an accumulation of data that has been created by on-ground data collected by the News18 regional channels. The unique database accumulation allows the News18 network to break down and explain the result and its impact to the viewers. Each anchor is being trained and equipped with the Magic Wall software to bring in a wholesome experience to the viewer. Magic Wall is a storytelling tool that will be handled by the news anchors coordinating the elections results. Senior talent of each regional channel will add their editorial depth and experience to the Magic Wall. Once the numbers start pouring in from the counting centers, they will go onto the tool. The tool will produce accurate data with precision, do a quick comparative analysis of the trends vis-a-vis the previous poll results, winning and losing candidates, their margins, emerging giant-killers and percentages.  Magic Wall will help elevate the consumer’s experience, who will be able to see the Counting Day results in an infographic manner, rather than just trails and leads. It will also help the viewer understand how each constituency has voted by demographics to understand the larger pattern.  

How has the advertiser response been to News18’s Election programming?
We have seen huge traction from advertisers across all regional markets. As the country’s largest news network, advertisers place a lot of trust in our ability to provide the most extensive, reliable and scientific coverage for the Elections. This has been proven over the last many elections. And yes, more advertiser interest translates to better revenues. We are in line to deliver record high revenues across our businesses. Counting Day brings up the curtain on the festival of democracy. With our robust programming gearing up for that, we are sure that the advertiser will benefit from the eyeballs that we will deliver with our unique programming. 

What has been the impact of TRAI’s new tariff regime on Network18’s subscription, especially in the regional markets?
Basis our brand strength and our business objectives, we took a call to have our channels as pay channels in each of the markets. We are happy with the response that we have got from our viewers. On the back of some fantastic election programming, our viewership numbers are looking strong. We are doing well and are confident of enhancing our strength further in each of the markets.  

How has your journey been at News18 since taking charge in January this year?
It has been a very interesting journey. I am new to news, so in that sense it has been a fantastic learning curve. With the Elections happening right after I joined the News18 Network, there couldn’t have been a better time to begin my journey in this domain. 

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