Mumbai: 2019, a year which saw massive economic slowdown across various sectors had its ripple effects across the media and entertainment industry. In a year of severe turbulence, Basant Dhawan has led the English and Business News Cluster at News18 to greater heights.
Medianews4u caught up with Basant Dhawan, CEO, English and Business News at News18 Network to talk about the year and a lot more.
How has the year been for the English and Business news cluster at News18 Network?
The overall macroeconomic environment has been challenging. This has affected the industry and advertising spends in the first half of the year. However, certain categories like Household Products, Beverages and Retail have done well and grown handsomely. At the same time, advertisers are very keen on clutter-breaking innovations and taking up larger causes. Our flagship properties like ‘Mission Paani’ and ‘Swasth Immunized India’ have been received well.
Let me point out that advertising during the elections was good. The NTO did have an impact but eventually, things settled down and we are back to being the number one news network. I also believe that news is a much more diversified platform. The number of advertisers who advertise on news channels is far more than those who advertise on entertainment channels.
Our business portfolio – CNBC-TV18 and CNBC Awaaz continue to achieve top ranks. Am happy to share that CNBC-TV18 is celebrating 20 years in India and we are quite upbeat about it.
Any key areas where there are a lot of opportunities and you would want to focus on?
For most advertisers, the key challenge is to be able to grab ‘consumer attention’, which is a scarce resource. The news genre provides a perfect platform for brands to deliver immersive brand experience through 360-degree solutions – TV, digital and on-ground events. As a network, we have a reach across all states, with 20 channels. We feel that is a key differentiator for us and a definite focus area.
What is the percentage of growth the cluster received from the marque events such as the cricket world cup and general elections?
The advertising during elections was good. General news witnessed better growth due to the mass nature of elections. However, genres like English business news grew marginally. Overall, we saw a low double-digit growth during the election period.
What has been the impact of the NTO on the business news cluster?
Our channels are in the paid space. I believe in the judgement of our viewers who choose to pay for our content. Our superiority of content and the distribution prowess ensured that we continue to be the choice of viewers. I am happy to report that CNBC-TV18 and CNBC Awaaz have maintained their Numero Uno position in the new tariff world post NTO.
How is CNBC-TV18 aiming to celebrate 20 years in India? What are the new innovations that the team is working on?
It is indeed an important milestone in any brand’s life cycle. At CNBC TV-18, we have kept the pulse on the evolving consumer’s tastes and demands, reinvented ourselves with times, and hence remained relevant. For the past two decades, we have created genre-changing, award-winning, though-provoking and inspiring programming that has transformed the business news media landscape.
To celebrate 20 years, we have introduced an interesting line up of shows such as Corporate Thrones: where corporate strategies to remain ahead in the game will be analyzed, Fund Anatomy: special show analyzing some of the best performing mutual funds. House of Policy: 20 years of how Indian policies have evolved.
Special series of panel discussions on the biggest policy reforms in India. Breaking Myth: A personal finance show busting the common myths around investments. Thus, covering the spectrum of corporate India, markets and young consumers.
In addition, if you notice, the programming idea is inspired by what everyone is binge watching nowadays. A digital focused campaign will also be launched in a couple of days inspired by the cult status CNBC-TV18 has been able to achieve in the country. We have planned some on-ground events too, but more on that, later.
What is next for the brand?
At the root of loyalty is a great product. We rely on consumer immersions to identify the type of content that will resonate with them. Thus we have just launched a talk-show albeit a different kind this month where we get to see an entrepreneur’s unseen side, a more up close and personal side on ‘Life-Etc’ hosted by Anuradha Sengupta. Some more new programs to be launched are in the pipeline. Currently, we are in midst of our milestone 20 year’s celebrations and bringing out differentiated programming.