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Ashish Bagga on how Aaj Tak maintains the difference between 'the credible' and 'the casual'

Ashish Bagga on how Aaj Tak maintains the difference between 'the credible' and 'the casual'

Author | Priyanka Mehra | Wednesday, Mar 25,2015 9:34 AM

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Ashish Bagga on how Aaj Tak maintains the difference between 'the credible' and 'the casual'

Aaj Tak has been leading the pack of Hindi news channels for 97 weeks consistently, no mean feat for any news channel, the channel is now working on completing 100 weeks of its leadership. Ashish Bagga, Group CEO, India Today Group talks about, constant innovation, and viewer focus, being among the pillars of leadership for the channel, on the Group’s plans of leaving no stone unturned to ensure that Aaj Tak maintains and further grows the leadership margin; investing on technology, content, events and extensive marketing to keep the growth momentum going.

“Factors like speed which were crucial at one time continue to be important but it is the Trust and Faith over 14 years that have been real deciders in the news space. Political news has gained viewership during and after the elections in the country. Events like the US tour of India’s newly elected Prime Minister, Obama's visit to India, attacks in Paris and Australia, the ISIS threat, Malaysian Airlines crash have stretched the boundaries to not just understand India but also its role in the world,” says Bagga.

He also believes that channels today have to align and fuel India's new hopes and the bold ambitions for tomorrow. “The elections and other such events are crucial for establishing credibility in the midst of steep rise in viewership. In addition news channels play a key role in reflecting the public sentiment - and thus the viewer clearly makes out the difference between the credible and the casual in these times.” he shares.  Excerpts from an exclusive interview with Ashish Bagga, Group CEO, India Today Group.

How are you going to sustain the momentum Aaj Tak has gained last year?

Leading with groundbreaking industry firsts is what has made the channel the undisputed No.1.

A clear viewer focus, a promise of trust and constant innovation are the pillars that have kept Aaj Tak ahead as the leader.

Aaj Tak has maintained consistency as the number 1 Hindi News Channel for non-stop 97 weeks now with around 18.5 % market share. (Wk19’13-11’15-graph below). The launch of ground breaking initiatives like Agenda Aaj Tak, Panchayat Aaj Tak, the first use of teleportation LIVE and the unmatched conclaves on Cricket have created tent poles in themselves. The year of union elections is the real test for any news channel and maintaining undisputed numero uno slot through the last year (52 of 52 weeks) has really been very encouraging for us. The coming days will see more such initiatives that keep the focus on hard reliable news leaving no stone unturned to ensure that Aaj Tak maintains and grows the leadership margin.



(Source-TAM, TG- CS 15+, Market- HSM, Wk19’13-10’15, 12 Hindi News Channels, Share %)
(As per TAM ratings provided by the subscriber)

What are the growth plans for the channel this year?

We have ambitious targets for Aaj Tak both on the viewership and the business front, but above all, we will always strive to live by our promise of being ‘Sabse Bharosemand’ and ‘Sabse Tez’. Breakthroughs for viewer delight will be at the centre of channel strategy. World Cup coverage with exclusive presence of Sachin Tendulkar has already been a good start to the year. The fact that the ‘God of Cricke’t has chosen only one platform to cheer for Team India, speaks a lot about the channel's stature in the viewer mindspace.

Agenda Aaj Tak, which is already the biggest summit of the Hindi heartland will come back with a bigger bang this year.

We are continuously investing on technology, content, events and extensive marketing to keep the growth momentum going. The coming days will see a series of marketing campaigns to sustain the growth momentum. 'Sach on Karo' has been amongst the most awarded campaigns in the broadcasting space last year. This year too, we will attempt to raise the bar on this side.

What do you attribute the channel’s leadership in Delhi elections to?

Our consistency in coverage all through the General Elections and formation of the government helped ensure that the channel was the preferred choice of viewers looking for the big and the accurate picture. On Delhi Assembly elections counting day, Aaj Tak was the most watched Hindi News channel with a 22 % share leaving other news channels way behind.

(Source- TAM, Market –HSM, TG- CS 15+, Wk-07’15, Tuesday, 12 Hindi News Channels, Share %)
(As per TAM ratings provided by the subscriber)

The special programming done during Delhi Assembly Elections- like “Dilli Ke Dil Mein Kya Hai”, “70 SEAT 70 REPORTER”,  “70 SEAT 70 TASVEER”,  “DILLI KA DANGAL”, “DILLI KA SHWETPATRA”, “THIRD DEGREE” and “RAJ TILAK” kept news viewership at a peak. Aaj Tak deployed the maximum reporters, used the best technology and had the best shows on the Delhi elections.

Dilli Ke Dil Main Kya Hai also saw the first augmented reality outreach exercise that connected the voters directly to the party leaders raising their issues and getting active response.
 
How has getting Sachin Tendulkar got tangible and visible results for the group?

We always believe in giving nothing but the best to our viewers. Sachin Tendulkar’s presence on Aaj Tak has created a clear differentiation and a solid boost to the channel's perception as a leader by far. Sachin’s presence on the channel has made the channel the preferred news destination for cricket. For example, the channel getting 25% and 26% shares on shows immediately after India’s win over Pakistan and South Africa in cricket world Cup-2015 matches.

Source-TAM, Market-HSM, TG-CS 15+, Period-Wk’08’15 (Sunday), 17:00-19:59, 12 Hindi News Channels, Share %, India Won ICC World Cup Match against Pakistan

(As per TAM ratings provided by the subscriber)



Source-TAM, Market-HSM, TG-CS 15+, Period-Wk’09’15 (Sunday), 16:30-18:29, 12 Hindi News Channels, Share %, India Won ICC World Cup Match against South Africa

(As per TAM ratings provided by the subscriber)

With the current multi- screen environment, do you believe in news being short for best consumption?

There is growing audience and appetite for news. This provides ample opportunities for all formats of news content. Aaj Tak is the No.1 news brand on Facebook and has a lot of coverage going viral on social media. It is this customization of content as per the platform and audience that has maintained the brand as a leader.  The series 'So Sorry' Politoons stand testimony to the fact that Aaj tak has always led the space by creating and breaking formats. The channel has championed such content that not just enjoys viewership on TV but also catches great attention with the online audience taking these viral.

How do you think news content has evolved ?

The delivery of news content has changed over the years and will continue to evolve with increasing competition and different platforms for news consumption. Factors like speed which were crucial at one time continue to be important but it is the Trust and Faith over 14 years that have been real deciders in the news space. Political news has gained viewership during and after the elections in the country. Events like the US tour of India’s newly elected Prime Minister, Obama's visit to India, attacks in Paris and Australia, the ISIS threat, Malaysian Airlines crash have stretched the boundaries to not just understand India but also its role in the world. The channel has to align and fuel India's new hopes and the bold ambitions for tomorrow.

Post the Lok sabha elections last year how has news content changed?

While viewers were able to get the best perspective on political developments during elections, news channels played a very vital role in spreading political awareness ahead of the elections, something that Aaj Tak is leading with in-depth and well researched news coverage across news stories.

With the elections getting over, the general news viewership has moved from topic to topic holding the nation's attention across Obama visit, Delhi Elections, the shake up in Bihar assembly, and now the World Cup. 

Source-TAM, Market-HSM, TG-CS 15+, Period-Wk’05’15 (Sun-Mon-Tues),  12 Hindi News Channels, Share %, US President Obama's India visit

(As per TAM ratings provided by the subscriber)

In your view do news channels today hold better credibility in the eyes of viewers post the elections?

The elections and other such events are crucial for establishing credibility in the midst of steep rise in viewership. In addition news channels play a key role in reflecting the public sentiment - and thus the viewer clearly makes out the difference between the credible and the casual in these times.
 
What is the strategy of Aaj Tak, as a leader in a competitive market space going forward?

The channel will continue to be true to its brand promise of being ‘Sabse Tez’.

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