There are 7 key selling factors for Republic World: Arnab Goswami
Two months after the launch of Republic TV, the independent media tech venture has now launched their mobile first digital destination – Republicworld.com. Along with Live debates, Opinions and interactive news content, Republicworld.com will also build communities around user habits such as Entertainment, Music, Gadgets, Travel, etc. It will also focus on content from its partners spanning languages such as Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Hindi, Marathi, Bengali and more.
In a first, Republicworld.com will feature long-format Live and VoD content in the form of vertical videos specially created for mobile audiences. The website and Apps will also provide exclusive 360-degree and Virtual Reality content for viewers for an immersive news experience. All Republic video content will be streamed in High Definition.
While stating that Republic TV sees itself as the new age media company crossing new boundaries, Founder Arnab Goswami remarked that the future of Indian media with television and digital is coming together. “We wanted to have a straightforward and aggressive launch with differentiated content that provides for a new media landscape. We believe in a free media environment where everyone works together and creates content. We have received maximum viewership and traction in the last Two months since we have launched, the time spent on Republic is 250-300 per cent more than other channels,” he claimed.
While attributing the success of Republic TV to its partnerships and collaborations with 31 news content partners, Goswami affirmed that Republic TV is the largest news gathering power hub in India.
Elaborating on Republic World, Vikas Khanchandani, CEO, Republic TV, said, “Television and digital complement each other and one is able to funnel the audience from television to digital and vice versa. Video is the fastest growing medium today across the world, with over 400 million digital users and 800 million television viewers in India. We are seeing a huge growth in video and regional content, with Tamil and Hindi languages growing at the rate of 40 per cent over the last few years. The core objective of Republic World will be to make sure that all languages, habits and experiences are taken care of. Republic World will become the most exhaustive, independent and credible news destination for all our consumers. Innovation is the key to success and with decreasing smartphone prices and low data charges, consumption of digital news content has increased drastically.”
Jay Chauhan, COO, Republicworld.com, added here, “Republicworld.com is at the intersection of Content and Tech, so we will keep pushing the boundaries of what’s possible to constantly engage and improve upon the user experience for our audiences. Within India, regional content consumption is growing exponentially and with the excellent network of our digital partners, this launch reaffirms our objective to work as a force and consistently engage with our audience in the language and habit of their choice.”
Republic World will be available in English, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Telugu, Gujarati, Assamese, Oriya and Bengali languages.
The company has tied up with Microsoft Technologies to get the international technology in India, while experts from France are training the first bunch of producers on how to shoot and produce in Virtual Reality and run parallel production control rooms (PCR) for content that is showcased on Republic TV and on Republic World.
Arnab Goswami said that the new venture will be in the global space. He added that Republic TV will soon start to cover global news available across the world and will recruit international reporters to cover all geographical stories and bring it on their platform. “Several global companies want to partner with Republic TV, but I believe in giving them a tough competition rather than collaborating with them,” quipped Goswami.
He also pointed out the key 7 selling factors for Republic World, which are:
- Tie-ups with 10 major languages, which will cover the largest part of demographics
- Coverage of habits and 33 partners who provide content to Republic World
- Personalisation of content on the homepage
- Vertical Videos
- Experimenting new grounds in Virtual Reality
- Co-produce Live videos
- Tie-up with technology giant, Microsoft
Adgully spoke with Vikas Khanchandani and Jay Chauhan at the launch of Republic World to know more about the digital venture, the challenges and opportunities, marketing strategy, special contributors for the website, monetisation and much more. Excerpts:
What were the challenges faced while executing innovative plans for Republic World in such a short span of time?
Vikas Khanchandani: There were no challenges as such because we were very clear that we wanted to have a differentiated offering that had consumers at the centre of it. The good part of Jay leading Republic World is that technology is the key here. The consumption of content on television and on digital is very different and one must understand this to be able to devise a strategy that gives maximum reach and impact.
What about ad insertions?
Vikas Khanchandani: Nobody has really focused on linear feed and replacing ads until now except Hotstar, which has done it with IPL because it is a big ticket investment and they invest a lot of resources into it. They get a clean feed, but the process is manual to a certain extent as while you are inserting digital ads, the process of execution is manual. Jay and his team are working towards being able to do this in an automated format, and while there are global technologies available to do that, we are looking at creating something independently, which will give us an edge over everyone else.
Will it be a paid app or free?
Vikas Khanchandani: The mobile app will launch in a couple of weeks and will be absolutely free.
Will you also be looking at getting audience feedback on the website?
Jay Chauhan: When someone lands on the homepage of the website, it asks them to join the debate and ask questions to Arnab. Over the next couple of weeks, consumers will find stuff that hasn’t been done before and we are really bullish on audience engagement. Technology is evolving dramatically and it is a great opportunity to use this engaging medium with strong content.
What will be the marketing strategy for Republic World?
Vikas Khanchandani: The marketing will begin with promoting Republic World on our own property, Republic TV, while also promoting it on our partner channels.
Will Republic TV still be available on Hotstar post the launch of Republic World?
Vikas Khanchandani: Republic TV will continue to be available on Hotstar as it is a great strategic partnership. Content will always find its way to reach the consumer across platforms. News is consumed by different people at different points of time in different durations and different formats and languages. The objective of Republic World will be to expand the liner feed. The objective on television is to find one big piece of content that will attract the maximum number of audience, but digital is very different in that aspect, where the audience will consume what they want to consume.
Will Republic World also have special contributors for content?
Vikas Khanchandani: We already have enough contributors for Republic TV and we will start to transition a lot of that content on Republic World as the opportunity in digital is humongous. We are also looking at podcasts, which is an effective way of content distribution and is a huge opportunity that has been untapped and under-leveraged so far.
When will you start monetising the website?
Vikas Khanchandani: We have already started the process of monetising and the idea is to get some traction going so that we have some numbers and engagement. We haven’t got any dedicated advertisers for the platform yet, but all the deals that we have done for television will get shifted to digital. Although it is not a package deal and will be sold individually, our advertisers are keen on participating with us on the digital platform as well.
Will programatic advertising come easily to you because of the customisation option in Republic World?
Vikas Khanchandani: It is a function of market dynamics, and as long as you can monetise the data you have and it brings you some premium, it will happen, but only time will tell how pragmatic will help us.
How did you decide on the content partners for Republic World?
Vikas Khanchandani: We were looking at people who were open minded for collaboration. Their credibility, reach and their work were taken into account before taking the decision.
What has been the cost of technology?
Jay Chauhan: We have gone really big on technology. A guy who does VR also does 10 other things, and the equipment have been carefully chosen. We have taken a risk by using some equipment which are in Beta version as it could or could not have worked. But these risks have paid off.
Could you tell us about the team of Republic World?
Jay Chauhan: There are a bunch of content guys and data science people who are based out of Bangalore. We also have an App sales and development team in place. We will expand dramatically over a period of time. We have a totally new team for digital content, comprising 30 members. A lot of the content is new, while some are aggregated from our partners.
What will be the frequency of VR videos on the platform?
Vikas Khanchandani: Videos that require high-end production will be showcased once or twice a month, but other VR content will be available once a week.
Who have you tied up with to bring this technology to India?
Vikas Khanchandani: VR is all about getting the hardware in place and getting the training to place the technology in place. We tied up with a Canadian company, which spent a lot of time on providing the technology and training the team for a month. It will all be trial and error method from here on and the team will only improve as they keep on working.