ABP News e4m webinar: News channels should build constant engagement: Vaishali Verma

Verma in conversation with Naziya Alvi Rahman, Editor, exchange4media, spoke on the topic 'Is NEWS the Genre-Next?'

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: May 14, 2020 9:32 AM
ABP e4m webinar: Is NEWS Genre-NEXT? with Vaishali Verma, CEO, Initiative

“TV is the biggest medium to reach the Indian household,” says Vaishali Verma, CEO, Initiative. Verma was in conversation with Naziya Alvi Rahman, Editor, exchange4media, in the ABP News presents e4m Webinar, titled 'Is NEWS the Genre-Next?'

Talking about the unprecedented rise of new during the lockdown, Verma said, “What the positive side of lockdown has been for the media industry is the unprecedented rose in viewership of TV across genres. News has seen exponentially with a growth of 200%”.

When asked why this growth has not translated into advertising revenue for the genre, Verma said that for now it’s because certain sectors of industry the impacted due to lockdown.

“Due to impact on supply chain and closing of retail, certain sectors like automobile, and consumer goods have gotten impacted, and not all sectors are advertising.”, she said.

Verma further highlights the two reasons why advertisement revenues continue to be a problem for news channels in India. She said, “News is undervalued in India, and there are two main reasons for that”.

“One reason is, traditionally, news channels depend upon big newsworthy events like election results, budget or big verdicts like Babri, to drive maximum viewership”, said listed.

She added that for News channels have not built a constant engagement with consumers. They depend on these big events to driver eyeballs and at these times, they attract a premium in terms of advertisement. “If there is steady engagement maintained, and momentum is kept going beyond big events, there will definitely be more advertising”, she added further.

Verma emphasized that what advertisers are paying for is the eyeballs of consumers. They will go where the maximum engagement is.

Another reason according to Verma, for news not getting its due, is the fragmentation of the medium. “Earlier news contributed to 7%-8% of the entire TV ad revenue. Today, it’s close to 20%, and yet it remains a problem. It is because today we have around 400 news channels including the regional ones. Within Hindi alone, there are more than 10 channels that are fighting for the biggest share of ad volume”, she highlighted.

She further added that media planner, when making advertisement plans, chose the top 4 or the next 4 channels to advertise, as they can’t advertise for all the channels, and not all channels get their fair share. She thinks if the channels are more consolidated, they might get better ad revenue.

Another problem that Verma highlights, with the news as a genre, is the lack of original editorial content.

“The problem is, news channels are pulling each other down, instead of focusing on themselves. Why don’t news channels build their own editorial content? There is too much focus on speed and breaking news, to get viewership, and not enough focus to build the strong editorial content to maintain the viewership”, she said.

She draws a parallel between newspapers and news channels. She said that consumer mainly read newspapers to read the editorials. They want to know how certain news is going to impact them. But news channels mostly focus on breaking the news fast rather than going in-depth of it.

She concluded the session on a general note that when the lockdown is lifted, and the economy goes back on track, and ad spends will also go up.

The webinar was the third instalment in the ongoing series, 'Is NEWS undervalued' in partnership with ABP news.

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