A combination of intense preparation and opportunity has helped Network 18 news television channels grow its audience reach even as the overall environment remains subdued, Avinash Kaul, CEO, Broadcast, Network18 said in an interview with Best Media Info.
While the advertising environment was tepid due to weak market, macro and regulatory headwinds and concentration of spends around sports, news benefited from election-related advertising.
“If we weren’t prepared for the elections, then we wouldn’t have benefited as much. Because we were prepared and there was an environmental factor that came in, it led to good benefits for us,” he said.
General news revenues were buoyed by election-related advertising, especially in Hindi. Standalone news revenue grew by 29 percent year-on-year.
From an EBITDA loss last year, the June quarter numbers witnessed a major leap in profitability. Election-advertising apart, continued reduction in the gestation losses of regional news channels, on operating leverage as well as cost controls, helped the turnaround.
News18 bouquet of news channels has maintained its number 1 position, and is the biggest in terms of market share as well as reach.
Kaul said while TRAI’s New Tariff Order did cause some disruption his Network18 news channels were able to recover from it faster than anticipated.
“Just in a matter of four weeks, we bounced back in most of the things. Even our flagship channel News18 India suffered for at least four to six weeks. But then it bounced back and now it is the number one channel in Hindi news category.
Disruption took place due to NTO but there was also a path to recovery. We were the quickest to get on to the recovery path. It didn’t impact many of our competitors because they were FTA (Free To Air). We had an extra challenge but with good preparation, we were able to bounce back very quickly. We saw a significant jump in subscription, which reached 48 percent,” he said.
CNBC TV18 and Awaaz maintained its leadership position during the June quarter with 51.3 percent and 68 percent viewership share in their respective genres. CNBC TV18 garnered 60 percent viewership during market hours
News18 India garnered a 12 percent market share in Hindi speaking markets (HSM). Its performance in mega-cities was even better, with a genre-share of 13.7 percent, ranking number 3.
CNN News18 garnered 19.2 percent market share and ranked number 3 during the June quarter.
Network 18’s regional News cluster has the highest reach (429 million viewers in Q1) and viewership in the country amongst regional news peers. News18 Rajasthan and UP/Uttarakhand continued their number 1 and number 2 ranks in their respective regions.―Money Control