After making its mark in the English news space with CNBC TV-18, the group is all set to introduce its Hindi channel, ‘Awaaz’ on Indian television in the New Year. The channel explores a new genre with content geared to address consumer related issues. ‘Awaaz’ would be on-air in the first week of January but the commercial launch is slated for mid–January, 2005.
A big differentiator for ‘Awaaz’ comes in the genre it looks at. The channel’s content would address consumer concerns in various forms. Like CNBC TV-18, Awaaz too comes on the Zee-Turner platform. Sanjay Pugalia ex-News Editor, STAR News, has been entrusted with the editorial responsibility at the channel. A word with industry experts indicates that the channel’s entry is being seen in a positive light at this stage.
“The future is niche content,” observes Punitha Arumugam, CEO, Madison Media, while commenting on why she thinks the genre makes sense in the current scene, “There is clutter in the news space presently but is this over clutter? One doesn’t know. The point is that almost all news channels are doing well and there does appear to be space for more.”
For Lakshmi Narasimhan, National Director, CTG, Group M, there are various strengths that will work in the channel’s favour, “The have invested substantially in the infrastructure, which will reap benefits. Also, the group has taken its time in launching the channel. This would have allowed them to tweak and fine-tune the project.”
One aspect that has been seen in the news genre is that only after the channel had settled reasonably on television the viewership pie saw an increase. Prior to that, there was more of viewer fragmentation. Experts believe that this would be more or less the scene with ‘Awaaz’ as well.
“Initially, in case of viewership, there would be fragmentation. However, over a longer period of time, there would be audience expansion. But with options increasing for advertisers there would be further ad-revenue fragmentation,” shares Narasimhan.
As for the advertisers, who would make sense on the channel given the nature of the content, Arumugam says, “I think most advertisers would. But specifically speaking, financial sector clients, consumer durables and corporates would be seen more.”
As is the case with most new channels, the experts bring out that a critical aspect for the channel would be the placement in the current spectrum of channel, which is crowded already. Apart from that the need to present consumer-related news in an engaging manner would prove to be an ordeal as well.
However, when contacted, channel officials refused to comment on the topic.