Prime time is something that we have worked really hard on: Avinash Kaul
IBN7, the Hindi news channel from the Network18 stable has been renamed as News18 India and the channel is all set to unveil its new rebranding, look and logo today evening. Over the recent months, the channel has added and refreshed its content offerings to the viewers.
With shows like ‘Aar Paar’, ‘Sau Baat ki Ek Baat’, ‘Bhabhi Tera Dewar Deewana’, News18 Media is leaving no stone unturned to bring the best and enriching content for their viewers.
Not only that, News18 India has a host of new faces like veteran journalists Kishore Ajwani and Amish Devgan, who bring their years of experience and expertise in journalism, strengthening the already formidable editorial team. While Amish anchors ‘Aar Paar’, a hard hitting debate show with topics having deeper connect with common man; Kishore hosts ‘Sau Baat ki Ek Baat’, a power-packed primetime show providing an overview of the top news of the day along with single take away for the viewers from the headlines. Recent newsbreaks by the channel have led to multiple and effective conversations all around.
In conversation with Adgully, Avinash Kaul, Managing Director, A + E Networks | TV18 and President - Strategy, Product & Alliances, Network18, shares more industry insights, internal developments and future plans. Excerpts:
What made you go for revamping IBN7 at this point of time?
This was on the cards. IBN7 has been in the field of news making and a part of the network for a long time. We are very focused on the channel and want to make it a very strong Hindi news channel, therefore, it has taken the top bracket.
How long did the entire process of revamping take?
It took almost a year for this work and we have already seen the launch of a whole host of shows on the channel. It is not something that we wanted to change one fine day, we have been working on it and as you have seen, we have launched many shows like ‘Bhabhi Tera Dewar Deewana’, which is an entertainment-based show; then we did ‘Aar Paar’ with Amish Devgan; Sumit’s show; ‘Hum Toh Poochenge’; then we have launched Kishore’s show, ‘Sau Baat Ki Ek Baat’. And as far as last week is concerned, in the 7-10 pm prime time slot we are actually No. 2, beating AajTak, India News in 15-plus HSM. Our numbers have improved.
Along with these, we recently launched an astrology show, as well as Crime Vertical under Crime Show, which is doing well. Thus, the work has been on in terms of input team side, output team side, changing some of the structuring of IBN7’s editorial team.
Were these elements missing before and hence, have helped in attracting a newer set of audience?
Of course, they have. For example, ‘Aar Paar’ is an out-and-out debate show aired in the prime time slot. The show is presented by Amish Devgan, who has his own set of followers. ‘Hum Toh Poochenge’ has already been an established show and there is a bigger show ahead of it. That has led to the great boost to ‘Sau Baat Ki Ek Baat’, which is a Kishore Ajwani show. Thus, 9 O’clock was never this strong – it used to be 4-5 per cent and now it is more than double that – thus, big names and content are coming in. It is all these verticals that end up helping boost the channel. Our crime show is also well followed. We have Priti Raghunandan coming in at 10 pm for a new show. Astrology is something that we have recently worked on 2-3 weeks back. However, there’s a lot of work to be done as we are competing in the prime time; after consolidating our position in the prime time, we will be working on the morning and afternoon time bands. It’s the start of the journey.
Please tell us more about your plans for the morning and afternoon time slots.
We have started with the astrology show at 7.30 am and then after that it is hard core news till 10.30 am. Basically, between 7.30 am and 10.30 am we are concentrating on hard core news. We already have good numbers in the 10.30 am to 2.30 pm time band. And then there are lots of news at various levels; we make sure that we are able to do that.
How many hours of content are you looking at to put on board to streamline the entire thing?
For the entire channel, the lead is being taken for 4-5 prime time shows, with each show of one-hour duration. So, all our shows – ‘Aar Paar’, ‘Sau Baat Ki Ek Baat’ – are of one hour duration. Then we have crime show which we are going to launch tomorrow (November 9, 2016). Then we have Astrology and hard core news. So, 7-8 hours of content.
Please tell us about your weekend strategy.
For the weekends, we have ‘Aadhi Hakikat Aadha Fasana’. Then a programme on some of the mysterious things happening in India. We have ‘Hum Toh Poochenge’ on Saturdays. There is certain amount of work which is still pending for the weekends and we are working on it in the entertainment and crime genres, which we will be coming up with very shortly for the weekend. This is something that we will be looking at far more closely.
How are you looking at the communicating the changes to the viewers?
There is a full blown marketing campaign from November 10. The refreshed channel branding with the new channel name goes live from 6.57 pm on November 9. The digital destination will also go live simultaneously, so we will now be News18media.com. We are changing the social media handle at the same time. The marketing campaign will span across TV, outdoor, print, radio, digital everything. That will cover the whole lot of communication process that we are trying to do.
Our hardcore news markets are UP, Punjab, MP, and that’s where our focus continues to be. A lot more action takes place from the political point, besides election times are more important for us.
Who has worked on the revamping?
Our in-house team has worked on the creative; for digital we have Everest, who has worked on the campaign. However, a bulk of the things has been done internally – the entire packaging, the logo, and the entire music.
Which are the shows that you are banking on?
Prime time is something that we have worked really hard on. In numbers terms, it is 12.5 per cent from 10-12 per cent, which is highest on prime time. Kishore’s show is doing 13 per cent in that time. These are some of the top shows that we are looking at. Before the relaunch we are already at No. 2 in the prime time band, which is making me think about setting our target higher than what we have.