Entertainment, Marketing

India’s own news channel: India TV

Breaking news: Mil gaya Swarg ka rasta (The road to heaven has now been discovered). Need I say more? Yes, I am talking about India TV.

India TV was launched in middle of 2004 when the number of news channels on TV were explodingindiatv. These news channels belonged to established production houses. They were either backed by a strong TV service (such as Star News by Star TV Asia) or were already synonymous with news (such as Aaj Tak of the TV Today network).

Every channel’s focus was clear – Any news should be covered by them before any other channel.

Rajat Sharma, the promoter of the India TV, was a well known face as he had anchored a famous TV series ‘Aap Ki Adaalat’ for many years. The channel was clear that it could not just rely on the credibility of the promoter for its success. It had to somehow standout – but how can one standout in news?

Michael Porter, who is famous for his management models, describes three strategies that businesses use for competitive advantage. These are ‘Cost Leadership’, ‘Differentiation’ and ‘Focus’ strategies. ‘India TV’ has adopted the Focus strategy from the beginning and it seems to have worked out for it.

Instead of becoming another participant in this news race, India TV took a ‘Focus’sed strategy. They wanted to concentrate on a set of TV viewers who are interested in sensational news which are not run-of -the-mill.

These viewers would be those who have enough time to flip through all news channels. They are looking for some news they have not already heard on any other channel – something which is closer to entertainment than news. Tailoring their products to this segment, India TV started coming out with 30 minute programs that just had one news item. They went into great details about each of these items – from interviews of local people to linking it to religious / mythological stories. They knew that their target audience is ready to spend a few minutes to get to the details of the news items. So, the presenters can take their time and not rush into giving as much information as quickly as possible.

India TV has over the years polished its way of presenting the news items. It knows how to sensationalize these items and make sure that the viewers don’t stop at the headlines. Its interaction with viewers is above average. The requirement to produce their kind of content requires such high interaction. The content and the strategy has made the channel famous among other viewers who might not be the the target audience (though they may not be spending too much time viewing the channel). I would bet that India TV is the most spoken about news channel in office water-cooler conversations and among teenagers.

There is little I can suggest to the channel for I think they have got it right. They should keep following its strategy but may be try getting a couple more benchmark programs apart from ‘Aap Ki Adaalat’ so that there is a good programming mixture. To ensure availability of “good” sensational subject regularly, viewers should be encouraged to participate more for they would become the source of a large amount of content (I am sure they would be tapping their viewers now as well to some extent). The channel is free-to-air and the business model does not permit one to do away with that. The attempt is to have content that has universal appeal. However, a better representation of all regions / states of the country, as sources of sensational news items, would help keep all demographic viewers interested.

Other channels have started imitating India TV, but the effort is half-hearted. Today, whenever one hears some news that is too sensational, the thought that crosses once mind is that this news is of the kind that is shown on India TV.

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24 thoughts on “India’s own news channel: India TV

  1. shailendra says:

    when i read the topic, i thought it is an sarcastic article..even after reading half the article i was not sure wat the author is trying to say…is he supporting channels like India Tv which can go on for 30 mins on topics as vague as a pigeon sitting on electic pole…I disagree with the author that such channels are successful in any way..They should be banned for such useless news and wasting people’s precious time…

  2. I respect your thinking … I am neither supporting nor discouraging such channels … but I do think that they are doing well for themselves

  3. shailendra says:

    @ashutosh…well u may be right that these channels have created a niche for themselves in the market.. but no of ppl willing to watch them is quite low and these channels are degrading the overall quality of news delivered to audience… although a good attempt at explaining the business model of India TV…

  4. Although these channels are not doing the job of a “news channel” but still there must be a lot of people wanting to watch such channels, otherwise how will these channels get advertisements. Although I don’t like India TV and many others don’t like it but someone does and hence we can’t simply ban it …

  5. AT_korvus says:

    @Shailendra, actually, quite a significant number of people watch these reports. In fact, during the recent solar eclipse, all channels threw credibility out of the window and showcased “enlightened babas and astrologers” who predicted dire consequences for all those who did not give away exactly 32.15 rupees wrapped in a blue handkerchief to a daily-wage worker wearing at least one maroon item of clothing.

    I guess sensationalism and yellow journalism will always succeed, because as human beings, we are all basically vicarious vampires, and we need our fill of entertainment. Its a sad state of affairs, but it nevertheless exists. The author has done a decent job of analyzing it within a framework, and the article should be taken in that spirit.

  6. shailendra says:

    @Ashutosh..thanx for the links..i didn’t knew the fact that india tv is topping trp charts..

    @AT_korvus..nice example of hypocrite babas…

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  9. Manoj Mathai says:

    I hate the way India TV and other channels sensationalize superstitions and blind faith. From the channel’s popularity, its clear that such bullshit does sell, but I wish channels gave its viewers a healthy dose of logical thinking and reasoning, every once in a while. Unfortunately, what do higher ratings for such channels indicate ? Are we, as a society, drifting into the dark ages of myths and magic and pseduo sciences in terms of our thinking ? Do the viewers know where & when to draw the line between reality and reelity ?

  10. It uses scriptwriters instead of journalists, but then if you look at other channels, journalists seem to be dabbling with scriptwriting too. Blurred lines.
    India TV – The Jerry Springer of Indian News Channels. Works for them and their audience.

  11. AT_korvus says:

    @Mathai: a very valid concern. In fact, I just read in the paper that stated that a large number of people (especially young people) believe in superstitions. The media just feeds us what we want, and religion is the opium of masses, and superstitions are merely an extension of that.

    And no, I believe as a society, we are progressing beyond a lot of these stupid superstitions. A couple of hundred years ago, sailing across the seas was taboo since the Hindu priests decided that anyone who left the shores of India would be declared unclean. However, the problem is that the majority of India lives in Tier 3 and villages, and it will take some time for rational thinking to fully permeate to that level.

    (Of course Tier 1 isn’t the hotbed of rational thinking either, considering the things that are done by hooligans in name of religion and culture)

    I believe that this entire discussion warrants an entire article, and maybe the author can explore these issues and write one 🙂

  12. 1stly not sure about intentions of writing this article.
    2ndly the points highlighted about India TV hitting on a certain category of “Tending towards Entertainment” I agree.

    However, few things which completely makes me hate this:
    1) Why do they call themselves as NEWS? They should come up with another category like “NewTainment” or something and not disrespect the journalism and responsibilities of media.

    2) Half hearted imitation from other channels due to the rising TRPs (of this s#!$) is a danger to the nation’s ability to differentiate between news and entertainment which can lead to insensitivity or compassion-less approach towards many sensitive incidents.

    3) Scriptwriting happens in Entertainment Business…if NEWS were supposed to be entertaining then why call them NEWS at all? Call them EntertaiNEWS.

    4) Media is not supposed to “just feeds us what we want” instead they should present the truth and support people, organizations etc who are working towards making things better.

    No wonder why people who are still “Rational” are moving towards online media to get their news updates.

  13. AT_korvus says:

    ^Media is not supposed to feed us what we want, and democracy is supposed to be perfect and religion is supposed to make us all better human beings.

    Keyword here is “supposed”.

    This is why online news is so much more awesome, I can pick and choose what I want to know about. Hopefully, this trend will increase and force the news channels to create better content.

  14. Ultimately what matters to the news channel is advertising. That’s why they are there. When they go bargain with media agencies, they have to make a sales pitch to them saying these are the kind of people we cater to, and thus give us ads of this age group and this sort of requirement. And the media agencies give it to them. If they decide to become an actual news channel, then they are going to be competing directly with bigger players and there’s no chance of a fight back. As very clearly mentioned by Ashutosh, it is the focus strategy (market segmentation)they employ.

    Another point, regarding the issue raised in the comments section about the existence of such channels – things just keep getting murkier with such focus. It’s like an addiction. People wanting to watch such news just keep getting more absorbed in such news, and unless they get more of it they can’t enjoy the channel, hence the channel itself has to consistently come up with such news, else it is gone, because a competitor might then take away all the points with TV rankings and with it the Advertising. A very similar trend is now coming up with newspapers I think – Another example is Times of India newspaper, with its city editions (for example Bombay Times, Pune Times) – talking about crap Bollywood news just because people have got so used to reading that useless talk that Times of India continues to need to spend on this aspect. Same with other newspapers as well. Stuff like “Shahid and Vidya have an affair”, and the article ends with how someone was fooled into believing that and it is actually untrue.

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  16. Kaushik says:

    I watch India TV for pure entertainment value, just like I watch Rakhi ka Swayamvar or Splitsvilla.

    So, there comes another source of viewership, India TV waalon. Keep up the good work. I love those half hour shows like “mahakaal ka doot” and “magic baba”

  17. jagdish says:

    Nice article.
    Guys please take this article from marketing and business point of view not as what is role of TV channels?
    And indirectly these news channels are controlling indian population as per recent discovery of Indian Government so chill.

  18. Nice post. I am reading the 1st post which is giving positive feedback on these type of channel. Frankly speaking, as far as business is concerned, they have just picked up the right nerve of the client. They know, what can be sell, and what cannot be. There are more 20 news channels, and viewer dont bother much which channel they are watching for news. So, for staying in this business, they targeted the religious audience and they succeeded as well.

  19. HemantB says:

    Good article to understand the dynamics of Indian NEWS Channels.
    I agree with what jagdish has said.

    @ppl opposing India TV
    Even if 0.1% of our population is watching India TV, that amounts to more than 1 M. And if one does not like it, he/she always have an option to change the channel…NOM

    @ppl supporting India TV
    I have also watched a few programs but I find them more misleading then informative. If an illiterate(not going by the Indian Govt. Literate Criteria) starts making decision on the basis of what he/she is seeing, then it will be dangerous for the society on a whole.

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