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The digital story of India has just begun: Ranjita Sehgal, Business Head, CNBCTV18.com

11-June-2018
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The digital story of India has just begun: Ranjita Sehgal, Business Head, CNBCTV18.com

Network18 launched its flagship business news brand CNBC-TV18 in the digital space in April this year.

exchange4media interacted with Ranjita Sehgal, Business Head at CNBCTV18.com, to understand how it will be different from other similar websites and hear from her the story of its launch.

Excerpts:

How big is the market for a business website in India? Do you think CNBCTV18.com is a bit late to capture digital readers?

I agree that information is so abundant now that readers and audiences have a problem of plenty. Audiences also have waning attention span due to their busy lives. Successful news brands like CNBC-TV18 have adjusted to these changes by listening to their audiences to address their needs and preferences. We have imbibed the principle of design thinking into the content and product strategy of our website. We believe that –

  • Users want news information that provides value: enter meetings with peers informed and help with their investments
  • Readers largely consume news on portable devices, on websites and on apps and share them via mails, on social media, including WhatsApp
  • They prefer a friendly reading experience, context to the news, analysis and forwarding looking reports
CNBCTV18.com aims to bring together this experience to its consumers.

The digital story of India has just begun. Digital citizens are being born every day as infrastructure changes to enable it. Airports have transformed in cities and added screens for infotainment. The Indian Railways is working on a new advertising policy aimed at installing about 100,000 big digital screens at railway stations across the country. The stock market is reaching newer heights and more investors are managing their portfolio digitally. High bandwidth data has come in and empowered lakhs of people with smartphones at affordable costs and connected them to the web. The digital landscape is being reborn every day. We believe, we are late for yesterday and early for tomorrow.

What are your expectations, in terms of revenue and reach, from the website after a year?

We expect a very healthy number at the end of the year in terms of both reach and revenue. The first month has been very encouraging for us. We are working at generating revenue from various streams. The most significant advantage we have had is the launch of the product with premium partners which reassures the confidence the big brands have in us.

With updates now coming on Whatsapp, do you think they are in any manner challenging news apps?

Updates are only a part of news. Analysis, in- depth research and presentation are more critical elements of a good news portal. CNBCTV18.com is India’s first INTEGRATED digital business newsroom, not backed by a newspaper. We believe that the success of a digital newsroom hinges on its ability to deliver information and insights that audiences are not easily or quickly able to access. WhatsApp will play its role and enable its users in a certain manner. Sometimes technology and innovation are also complementary and healthy and not necessarily competing.

What are the major challenges that you faced, particularly in getting the website live?

Starting a news website for India’s most trusted business brand itself brings a huge amount of responsibility and pressure. Twenty-four hours of work to get the site running was just not enough. One wishes there were more hours to a day and one could have done it faster, better and more efficiently.

It was a great achievement on the part of the team to drive home a brilliant product in a short span of time. We had multiple challenges in terms of product, marketing, processes or our own doubts about each thing we put up, but it was a great learning experience and an exhilarating one.

A lot of thought and innovation has gone into creating the site. What you see on the site on a weekday is very different from a weekend. We have brought about features like crosswords, puzzles, quiz and light reading for business consumers, which itself is a demanding task. Like any other innovation, this too posed a challenge to us but the feedback from the readers has been overwhelming. We hope to continue to innovate on the content and its presentation.

What is the USP of CNBCTV18.com and how do you strategize to keep it different from other business websites?

The one clear USP of the site is that it’s a counterpart of the most trusted business news brand in India. One doesn’t have to talk much about CNBC-TV18 which has been dominating the business news space, year-on-year. Moreover, the news site is truly an integrated business newsroom that packs live streaming of CNBC-TV18 content, special shows, re-purposed videos, compelling data and visual stories, TV anchor opinion pieces, and expert guest columns. CNBCTV18.com is one of the few portals that have a completely different strategy, view, layout and content for weekend reading. And as I said before, other than in-depth essays, the site boasts of innovative content in terms of business crosswords and leisure reading for the much tired business mind.

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