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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