IBC: No saas-bahu show can give the kind of engagement that news channels do: Mehraj Dube

Mehraj Dube, Vice President, Zee Media, talks to exchange4media group's Neeta Nair at India Brand Conclave

e4m by Neeta Nair
Updated: Nov 29, 2018 4:23 PM

In a fireside chat at exchange4media’s India Brand Conclave on Thursday, Mehraj Dube, Vice President, Zee Media, talked about the various challenges his company faces despite being one of the biggest and one of the oldest TV networks in the country. 

Watch the session here and scroll down to read:

Dube talked about how news channels fail to attract a premium from the advertisers owing to lack of differentiation of content unlike the GECs, and how they can rise up to the challenge. 

“We have one Prime Minister and innumerable news channels, so when he speaks, yes we have to cut to it. But the mark of a credible organisation lies in how you are analysing and treating the story and talking about what was left unsaid in the PM’s speech. And viewers today are smart, they know exactly when a channel is not true to its story,” he said.

Hindi news channels clearly play a second fiddle to the GECs as far as ad rates are concerned, because of higher reach. But if reach was the only factor, why is it that English channels get better ad rates than Hindi news channels despite having lower viewership? Dube questioned the logic and said they are trying to convince advertisers about the level of engagement their news channels provide. 

“People’s attention levels are very very high when they are watching a news item. No saas-bahu show can give that kind of engagement. Numbers show amazing value for advertisers when they advertise on our platforms. We still have a long way to go in convincing advertisers about the value of news media as an advertising medium. A lot of our partners are beginning to see that because they are benefitting in a big way. But yes, a lot of work is still left to be done,” he added.

In a market which is already cluttered with 22 national Hindi news channels, what kind of a challenge would the entry of English news major like Republic TV, which recently announced its foray into the space, pose? 

Responding to the question, Dube said, “While it will make my team’s job tougher, it is not worrisome because we focus on who we are and what value we are giving to the viewers. 22 national channels is just a number, be 22 or 200, all the best to them, Zee News is here to stay.”

Signing off, he said, “News as a genre in India is likely to double up in the next three years which is a big incentive, but how this growth will come and who will cash in on it first will depend on capability and strengths of the channels and also the consumer behavior; how much time they spend on TV vis-à-vis digital, the marketing strength of news media to reach out to many more audiences.” 

“A lot of it will change after December 29 because the consumer will have the ultimate right of choosing his channels ala carte on his distribution medium for a fair price. We see that as a great growth opportunity with or without the state and national elections,” he added.

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