Back in 1999, when Zee was launched it used to air major part of its news content in English but decided to switch to Hindi in 2003-04 to open up to a wider audience. Coming back a full circle two decades later the Essel Group owned TV network has decided to deep-dive into the English news genre and announced the launch of their plans for a new English News channel. Zee Media Corporation Limited (ZMCL) as well as announced the appointment of Rohit Gandhi as Editor-in-Chief – English, News Broadcast and Related Content.
The English news genre is not an uncluttered space either with Times Now, followed by India Today TV, NDTV, CNN–IBN and NewsX, each with its own USP, it will be interesting to see what Zee has to offer with its foray into this genre.
There is place for a new player with differentiated offering
Industry insiders opine that in a scenario wherein competition has already set the pace, the new channel would have to bring in something unique in order to compete with the big boys already dominating our news screens.
Mayank Shah, Deputy Marketing Manager, Parle believes that with the right content there will be space for the new player. “There is a space, there is no doubt about that, provided they can differentiate. If you can carve a niche for yourself and really differentiate yourself then it makes sense, otherwise there is no point in being one more player,” he said.
Sanjay Tripathy, Head Marketing, Product, Analytics, Digital and E-Commerce, HDFC Life said, “I think coming from Zee Group, they must have really surveyed the market and figured out the space where they can position themselves and get the market share in the English news genre. Over the past year NDTV and CNN-IBN have been on the decline; India Today TV has moved up slightly and Times Now is at a good place. I think there is a gap currently, due to the decline of channels such as CNN-IBN and NDTV. I guess there is an opportunity for Zee if their content is good and can bring in credible news in a format which the audience will like.”
Zee’s success will be dependant strongly on creating its own space in the market. “On one end you have channels that sensationalise the news to garner GRPs, on the other side there are channels who claim that they are true to the genre in terms of dishing out the right kind of news. I think somewhere Zee would have to find a niche for themselves in terms of how they are going to be different from these two positions which are already taken,” opined Shah.
Anisha Motwani, Director, Chief Marketing and Digital Officer of Max Life Insurance points out that while there are numerous channels in the English news space, there is still place for a channel that can properly balance news reporting with debates and analysis.
Striking a balance between News Reporting, Debates and Analysis …
“The problem with news channels today is that while everybody has a different tagline, they have become more about having discussions and debates than about sharing news. Obviously the dissemination style is different. Times Now has too much of debate and discussion; CNN-IBN does have bullet news, whereas NDTV is a little more matter-of -fact and doesn’t have too many arguments, discussions and debates,” Motwani explained.
Motwani points out that in-depth research should be an integral part of news analysis. She said, “Today the news is fine but the minute it gets into deliberations, discussions and debates it is more about stating opinions than about views and fact based analysis. A new player should bring in a certain amount of editorial richness to the way news is analysed and the way views are shared. Views are always personal but they should be backed by evidence. If a channel can create that differentiation and occupy that niche it would do well.”
In order to be attractive, to both, advertiser and audience, good content is the need of the day according to Tripathy. “Advertisers just look at whether the audience is actually watching the news, the amount of time spent on the content and the quality of the content,” he explained.
A Possible Tie up With CNN ?
While the group’s foray in the English news space has been doing rounds in industry circles since a few months in an earlier interaction Chairman of Essel Group and Zee, Dr Subhash Chandra had indicated that Essel Group would be going ahead with an English news channel with a global outlook with or without CNN .
"We are talking with them about a partnership for an English new channel. But we are not looking for branding from them. India needs a news channel with a global outlook. We need to produce content that has a global feel and we also need to present news that is global in nature” said Chandra.
Chandra also sees this as an opportunity to represent an Indian point of view which is clearly missing in the news genre.
Striking the right balance, with a differentiated offering, attractive to both consumers and advertisers taking established players like Times Now head now, the new channel certainly has an interesting challenge ahead.