Rajdeep Sardesai’s decision to partner with Sameer Manchanda and team up with TV-18 to float Broadcast News has raised a range of expectations and questions from the media. Given the present scenario, can the team make a difference? More importantly, is there enough space for more players?
For the uninitiated, Broadcast News is the joint venture between ex- NDTV Sardesai and Manchanda and the TV-18 group. The first attempt of the entity would be a general news channel in English and the entity is looking at a November – December launch for the channel.
Does Sardesai’s presence in the deal make a difference? “Indians love heroes,” says Ravi Kiran, MD, Starcom (South & West), “Rajdeep’s personality evokes extreme reactions. You cannot remain neutral to him. He is liked by people who want to see their news anchor air a strong personal viewpoint. If his fan base is strong and more importantly, if the channel is marketed and distributed well, they will have a fighting chance.”
“Rajdeep says that this would be a journalist’s channel,” says Raj Gupta, President, Insight, “He brings credibility with him and there is always place for a good credible product in the market.”
And is there space for a general news channel, “In the present scene, there is only NDTV 24x7 in the English news channel space, which means there still is potential,” says Shashi Sinha, President, Lodestar Media, “and so there can be more players.”
Agreeing with this Lakshmi Narsimhan, Director, CTG, GroupM adds, “There would be fragmentation but Sardesai brings with him a credible brand name, which will be backed by the business sense that the TV-18 group has displayed.”
However, as per Ravi Kiran, “Regardless of clutter, every market has place for a well differentiated player. What differentiation this new channel can create remains to be seen.”
The first threat that the channel will pose is to NDTV 24x7 and even CNBC TV-18, for that matter. Another point that experts bring to fore is that increasingly players the news space is seeing more players from the news space itself.
“It is the logical way forward,” explains Narasimhan, “Channels like NDTV has the benefit of bouquets that the likes of TV-18 didn’t have so far. However, with moves likes these, this is where the change will come in to strengthen entities.”
“That is the case with any genre actually,” Gupta offers, “Each player would want to increase the number of channels in its portfolio to have a greater audience share. In the light of fragmentation, that is how growth comes in.”
Taking these observations a step ahead, Sinha says, “This is more like the interim stage. The route forward is towards consolidation. The objective of more channels is to have that much more clout. You become a specialist in the genre. First the networks are built and then there is alignment and valuation. In all, it moves towards consolidation. This is what has been happening worldwide.”
TVC18 officials still haven’t shared much on the developments around this new entity. However, a press statement gives an indication on what the boys who made all the noise have to say as yet, “We have formed a new venture called Broadcast News in collaboration with the TV18 Group to launch television channels in the news and information space. We believe that the Indian news market is rapidly expanding and there is enormous potential for new media properties. This venture is ideally positioned to exploit and leverage these opportunities.”
In the present state of affairs, to determine whether or not the new players of the news genre had space completely depended on the observer. At one point, six news channels was far-fetched and today 16 national news channels is a reality. The coming in of Broadcast News with the intention of more channels only means further clutter. However, as far as Broadcast News is concerned, the media industry sure does have high expectations.