The last one year has seen some changes in the niche English business news channel space. ET Now from the Times Group was launched in 2009, while in late 2009, UTVi joined hands with Bloomberg and was rebranded into Bloomberg UTV. While the English business news channel players insist that they are northward bound, can this genre do with some alterations? exchange4media finds out.
CNBC-TV18 has been the market leader in this category and has managed to capture a market share of over 50 per cent since last year. ET Now, which had started with a relatively small 2 per cent channel share, now has a channel share of close to 16 per cent. (TAM Peoplemeter System, CS 25+, All India)
Unperturbed by the entry of new players, who have led to more competition in this genre, Deepak Lamba, Business Head, Bloomberg UTV, said, “It is good for the corporates as they have more avenues for information dissemination and its great for the consumers as well as they’re getting a wider spectrum of coverage and analysis. Competition also ensures that the market players are always striving for excellence, so that will always result in greater value for the viewer.”
Neeti Chopra, Brand Director, Economic Times and ET Now, added here that the last few years had seen a complete change in the global economy and that India, too, was affected by the slowdown. She said, “There was a lot of volatility in the market in the initial phase, but India recovered strong as the fundamentals were in place. However, today all investors – be it corporate or retail – are seeking information on how the markets will pan out based on performance, Indian and global economic cues. As a consequence, the demand for business analysis and news has grown, with it new channels have been added. ET Now completes one year on June 17 and it has been a year of growth and expansion.”
When asked whether the presence of older and more established players had bothered the new entrants, Lamba replied that if it had, they would have never set out on this business path and Bloomberg wouldn’t have entered into a strategic partnership in this venture.
Chopra maintained, “ET Now has the Economic Times advantage and the channel is very focused on addressing the needs of its viewer.” Sharing the details of the programming of the channel, she said, “During trading hours, ET Now is completely market centric, the focus has always been to become more stock centric, though in the evenings ET Now analyses sectors, features interviews with key decision makers, looks at the impact of international markets and brings together a holistic picture of the Indian economy.”
Creating a distinct identity
So, how do these channels react when clients don’t distinguish between English business news channels and English news channels? Lamba insisted that the clients did view both sets of channels as separate entities. He further said, “English business news channels are far more focused on business and financial news stories, politics, entertainment and sports (which form a sizeable chunk of the content for general news) don’t figure nearly as prominently across English business news channels.”
According to Chopra, “Business news is watched primarily to help the viewer make the right decisions on investments and hence, this viewing has very high levels of viewer engagement, and depending on his needs, the advertiser maximises his channel mix and selects the most optimum combination.”
Advertising on business news channels
This is reflected in the rise of the number of advertisers and the increase in ad rates. Lamba informed that Bloomberg UTV had increase ad rates by 60 per cent in the last few months. “We have got concrete and substantial plans to consolidate our position and gain market share in the near future, and I am confident that the rates will further increase by another 50 per cent. We have also succeeded in bringing on board many new advertisers to our channel since February this year, which is a positive trend, and again, basis our plans, we see this number rising.”
Commenting on the last one year, ET Now’s Chopra said that the last 12 months had been months of growth and consolidation. “It’s been an exciting journey so far, and we are still to be a year old and already we have become the choice of many,” she affirmed.
Talking about the time since UTV’s alliance with Bloomberg came into being in October 2009, Lamba said, “We are happy with the progress in this period of six months in terms of numbers and more. Especially, in the case of this genre, numbers only tell part of the story, since a significant portion of viewership happens ‘out of office’ and those numbers aren’t recorded.”
While Chopra expected the channel to continue to be market-focused and help the investor make the right decisions on his investments, Lamba asserted that he saw his channel north bound in the next few months.
Officials from CNBC-TV18 couldn’t be contacted despite repeated attempts.