Counting day phenomena to see higher viewership than even IPL: Mayank Jain, Network18

Jain, CEO, Hindi News Cluster, News18 Network talks of News18’s election coverage plans & the massive campaign to promote the Network as the election’s No. 1 destination

by Moumita Bhattacharjee
Published - Apr 11, 2019 8:51 AM Updated: Apr 11, 2019 8:51 AM
Mayank Jain

The first phase of the 17th General Elections took off on April 11. With the polling process continuing till May 19, news channels have lined up a gamut of shows to engage viewers. This is a tremendous opportunity for news channels to attract viewers as well as advertisers. 

The News18 Network has launched its biggest election campaign which will run across multiple media platforms. In a chat with exchange4media, Mayank Jain, CEO, Hindi News, News18 Network, said the counting day viewership will far exceed even that of the ongoing Indian Premier League.

Excerpts:
 
What will be News18 Network’s objective during the election season?

As you know, News18 Network is the largest news network in the country. It is the only network today which through a strong set of regional channels has a presence in every major state across the country. This allows us to reach 68.6 crore viewers. That is 12 per cent viewership of the overall news category. 

We understand that we are in a position today where 12 per cent of all news consumption that is happening in the category is on our News Network. Our aim is to make sure that we talk about news that matters during elections and to take a balanced approach in our reportage. We have a very strong presence across the country and we look forward to bringing in voices and perspective from all the states across the length and breadth of the country. Our clear aim is to ensure that on the back of the breadth and quality of our coverage we emerge as the No. 1 destination for news during General Elections. 

What will be your move to get the youth of today interested in News18’s election coverage?

Given their relative share, the youth vote has assumed tremendous significance this election. As the country’s No. 1 News Network we have taken it upon ourselves to motivate youngsters to come out and vote. We have launched an editorially driven, voter activation campaign targeted at the youth voter - ‘Button Dabao, Desh Banao’ given that these elections are going to set the agenda for the next generation. Through this campaign, we are trying to talk to the 18-19 year olds, the first-time voters who are likely to number close to 15 million. This editorial campaign hence is about getting them interested in exercising their right to vote. 

Everyone is heavily investing in the digital medium because today everything is about social media. What would be Network18’s go-to medium?

As I mentioned, 68 + crore people tune into News18 network. That’s a very large number of people the network is able to reach out to. So, our go-to medium has always been our own network because of the scale and the reach that it provides. We will of course use other media to support our campaign including our own social and digital assets which are also extremely strong in that space. 
To make News18 Network the No. 1 destination for election coverage, we have also invested heavily on Outdoors. We will be deploying close to 1,000 units in more than 50 cities across the country to get our brands top of mind for audiences and ensure that they are the default destination for anything related to elections.

What will be your ROI target during this period?
 
Anytime we make any marketing investment, we are fundamentally looking to move the needle with the viewers on two main parameters – Ratings and Reputation. All ROIs are then measured on those two parameters. Our marketing efforts have been focused on building affinity for our brands which has contributed tremendously to the growth in our viewership to the extent that we have emerged as the country’s No. 1 News Network. 

What has been the advertisers’ response to these campaigns?

We are getting a phenomenal response from our advertisers right now. Let me tell you, the counting day phenomena will deliver far more eyeballs than even IPL. Just on that one day, and the days leading up to it and even after it, there will be a sustained level of interest in news on elections and the new government. 

I would also like to highlight that we have been actively engaging with the advertiser community over the last two months -with our trade partners, with agencies and also with key clients. We have clearly communicated to advertisers that News18 Network will deliver a far better ROI on the back of the fact that we deliver the highest viewership in the category. Given our current momentum the April-June quarter is likely to see high revenue growth for News18 Network. We are targeting very high growth in terms of advertisers, more than the last financial year and even the last general elections for that matter.

And it is happening on the back of new clients entering the category who want to advertise on the News18 Network. This is mainly because of the fact that the television news category has seen tremendous growth over the last few years. A lot of FMCG companies are looking to tap the viewership generated during the elections. These firms would otherwise generally not look at News and would rather go to general entertainment channels for their staple diet of GRPs. However, due to the election season, a number of these companies are in conversation with us and are looking at not just the big counting day or the polling days but also for solutions which allow for seamless integration and amplification with our elections coverage. 

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