As ET NOW maintains consistent lead in terms of viewership, Arnab Goswami, President – News & Editor-in-Chief, Times NOW and ET NOW, tells us what makes ET NOW a leader in the business news genre. Excerpts:
ET NOW has been leading the business news space consistently over the last four weeks. How are you going to sustain the leadership for this channel?
We are way ahead of CNBC-TV18 and if you look at the recent ratings, they are 15-20% behind us in terms of channels share. Not only will we keep up this tempo, but we will increase the viewership and we have lot of plans going ahead. The good thing is the market recognizes the fact that India’s number one business channel is ET NOW. It’s not a flash in the pan but a solid performance over three months and everyone knows it.
So how do you leverage your learning and experience from the general news segment to leading ET NOW?
It is basically the same logic, I am a TV producer, by training I have been working on news desks for a long time now. At the end of the day we have the skills and the team which can ensure that what we put out is of superior quality, secondly how we put it out is of superior quality, and thirdly that we put it out in a way that is more engaging for the viewer. The combination of all these three things, now can reflect itself in various small things but, if you look at ET NOW today compared to how was ET NOW 5 months back you’d agree with me that it is a vastly changed channel. It’s a dramatically transformed channel. So basically it’s the same learning, I have a one team philosophy. I put the entire team at ET NOW under a one team approach, there are no bands anymore, there are no groups of people working on shows, everybody at ET NOW is now only working towards that one channel. So it’s the same policy, as far as people, promotion, graphics, content, how things go out from the production control room, what is the priority, editorial priority, how do we strategize on a daily level, on a weekly level, on a monthly level, and on a medium term level. All of these basic skills are easily transferable from general news to business news. And what I’ve ensured is some of the key people in my team are also working with ET NOW to transform it. It’s exciting and people are very, very excited at the way the market has responded to the things we’ve done.
I have a 127 points transformation list for ET NOW. Out of which I am happy to tell you, I have only implemented 25. Which means, there are another 100 things which need to change.
Is there an added focus on digital also for ET NOW, something which Times NOW has leveraged very well?
Right now digital is not big enough. Maybe it will happen in the future. But you’re right for Times NOW, we have done a great deal. We were the quickest to add around half a million users on the app, organically. That app today has the strongest amount of video content compared to any other news app in the country.
So many people are actually now using the app as a live source of news for streaming video on News Hour as well as short parts of the News Hour debate. In parts of the country where the bandwidth is low, people are only tuning into the audio section of the app. So they’re literally listening on to the app like it is a radio device.
The app has been a fantastic transformation. As we know Times NOW’s digital focus this year has given us a new identity. To be honest, I haven’t done that on ET NOW, we will get there as well.
Looking at Times NOW, you are an undisputed leader in your space, what are the challenges in making sure you still remain there?
Everyday is a new day. I am happy the News Hour has reached a level of following and viewership which I wouldn’t have dreamed of five years ago. For me the challenge is in breaking the story that matters first. But the core remains the same. The desire to go deep and remain no. 1 while keeping the integrity of this business high, and leading from the front and also growing younger leaders and going deeper into digital. This is what I am looking forward to.
What are key focus areas right now?
Digital, digital and digital. That is my principle and News Hour, News Hour, News Hour. (2x) And of course, ensuring that we have the widest gap with the competition.
The heated debate at the moment is the level of rising intolerance. As a watchdog, what do you think the media can do?
I think we are a good pressure group to ensure that all those fringe elements are really exposed. In fact, I recently said it would be a compliment to call these people fringe elements. They are much worse. We have questioned the hypocrisy of some of the people speaking up on this issue now but were silent earlier. We have kept a focus on the issue and I think it’s good. When some of these ink attacks happened we were really on the front it is a good ongoing debate and we should debate it from both sides.