There’s a difference between putting the news out first and ‘Putting News First’. And the difference is part of the differentiation for BBC World, according to Seema Kotecha, who heads marketing for the channel.
She is mighty impressed with the Indian advertising fraternity. Having met with a host of agencies to handle the creative and media duties (separately) of BBC World in India, she rates Indian agencies higher than their counterparts in several other parts of the world on several counts. And a decision on the choice of agencies is awaited shortly.
The channel itself is bullish on the Indian market. Not surprising, given that India constitutes 20.7 per cent of BBC World’s Asian viewership (Weekly reach, PAX - Pan-Asia-Pacific Cross Media Survey, conducted by Synovate, which covers 11 markets in Asia-Pacific). As per the same survey, India is ahead of the next most important market, Japan, which accounts for 16.5 per cent of its Asian viewership.
“We think the images of the global Indian are more apparent than ever. They want to know what is going on across the world and are more aware,” said Kotecha, who was in Chennai for the shoot of the second phase of BBC World’s campaign ‘Putting News First’.
She added that marketing efforts were particularly important in a market like India, where it was imperative to remind the viewers what was different about the channel.
BBC quotes the PAX survey, to explain that its viewership in India has not been affected by the proliferation of news channels. It shows BBC World to have grown 32 per cent since PAX started reporting data (quarterly), from 14.1 per cent (in Q1 2003) to its current 18.6 per cent (Q1 2005). The channel also claims that this growth has also occurred further up the social spectrum, with 26.3 per cent of Business Decision Makers in India tuning in.
Kotecha explained that viewers turned to BBC World in India both for its international and domestic news stories. “On the people meter, we see spurts in viewership when there is a big international story. For example, during the recent London bombings on July 7, BBC World had a higher share than even the domestic English news channels among C&S SEC AB 5years+ individuals in the top six metros from 3 pm till 12 midnight. BBC World’s share was 52 per cent followed by CNN's at 19 per cent, NDTV 24x7 at 13 per cent, Headlines Today at 9 per cent and CNBC at 7 per cent. For domestic news, viewers turn to us to get an international perspective,” she elaborated.
During the Mumbai floods, 4.1 million viewers turned to BBC World in the one week from July 26 to August 1, while 1.8 million tuned into CNN, she further said.
In keeping with the significance of the Indian market, BBC World will be unveiling the second phase of BBC World's brand campaign – Putting News First – and the commitment will be further communicated through the channel’s output.
“In our flagship programmes such as News Extra, Asia Today, Hard Talk, Click Online and Asia Business Report, viewers will get to see more of region focused reportage and stories in the coming quarter. In December, we will return to the areas affected by the Tsunami on December 26, 2004, trying to find out how they have coped in the wake of the tragedy, and what lessons have been learned. We’ll attempt to answer those questions in a series of special programmes,” said Kotecha.
She draws us to look at the findings of a research done 18 months ago, where BBC World’s positioning was reinforced by a synonymous viewer sentiment the world over. Stating that it was more pronounced in India, Kotecha underscored that the Indian viewers felt that trust was a major factor. “Our strengths, therefore, were even more apparent in the Indian market,” she affirmed.
An official statement from BBC reminds us that according to Media Brand Values, an international survey done in Europe among senior business people, BBC World was found to be the most ‘credible’ news channel.
A total of 43 per cent of BBC World’s regular viewers (those who watched the channel on two or more days per week) rated it as “impartial and unbiased”. This compares to 37 per cent of Euronews’ regular viewers considering that channel to be impartial and unbiased, followed by CNN (18 per cent), Bloomberg (17 per cent), and CNBC (14 per cent), says the study. The survey is slated to come to India this year.
The challenges across the world are similar, according to the channel’s head of marketing. “With a number of news channels coming in, the challenge is to continue growing by cutting through the clutter and creating a reason for people to tune in,” she said.
The channel’s confidence stems from the fact that it is uniquely differentiated. It is however, engaged in a conscious attempt to modernise itself. The sets have been redesigned recently, to this end. And as part of its ‘Putting News First’ strategy, the channel has promised to strengthen its news resources across Asia, including for its flagship programme, Asia Today, and its network of correspondents.
The entire BBC team shares Kotecha’s optimism on the Indian market, she shares. The optimism comes though in these parting words she shared with us: “There is a lot going on, but there is a lot left to do. It was nice to see the ad agencies’ approach to our brief, and their understanding of BBC’s positioning in India. Strategically and creatively, the agencies are very close to the market and were very impressive. We have a fantastic choice between very good agencies in India. India is a big and growing market. We have ambitious growth plans.”