After a hiatus of over a year, Monica Tata has joined BTVi as COO. After Bloomberg decided to not renew its licensing agreement with Anil Ambani-owned Business Broadcast News (in January 2016), it tied up with news agency Reuters. The channel was thus rechristened BTVi from Bloomberg TV India. In an interview with Meghna Sharma of BrandWagon, Tata talks about what ails the genre and how the channel aims to be a differentiator. Excerpts:
After the rebranding in August 2016, what is on BTVi’s agenda for the coming years?
Post the crystallisation of our channel’s brand identity, our content strategy will continue to focus on influencers and also provide a global outlook for businesses. We will add new show formats with the prime focus on connecting directly with influencers which will provide an edge for the channel.
How do you see the partnership with Reuters benefitting BTVi?
This partnership will strengthen our leadership position by delivering more value to our increasingly sophisticated business audience with the addition of global business news content on a real time basis. With the partnership with Reuters, BTVi has access to global coverage of marquee global events such as the US election, Davos (World Economic Forum), etc. There are also internationally acclaimed feature shows, for instance, Meet the Entrepreneur, Paris Auto Show, etc. Over the years, the Indian news ecosystem has evolved significantly and the new consumer wants an intelligent take on developments, delivered in the most intuitive yet dynamic form.
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The English News genre is only 0.03% of the viewership pie according to the KPMG-FICCI 2016 report. How can the genre grow?
The English news genre is a highly competitive space and within that, the English business news genre is even more competitive. The growth of the genre will continue to be a challenge. However, as is true in every genre, the kind of content will play a key role in creating differentiation.
How does BTVi plan to make a niche for itself in the category which sees established players like CNBC TV18?
It’s not about comparison but we are in the premium position in terms of kind of opinions and people that will come on the platform. The thinking that the channel will drive will speak for itself. More importantly, Reuters’ content will be exclusively available for BTVi viewers. The branding and the offering of the channel will be stronger than what it has been in recent times.
What are the current challenges in news broadcasting?
One of the key challenges the genre faces is the availability of quality talent because there is a limited pool of the same. The demand and supply equation is one of the issues one has to deal with. Also, in the last five years, we have not seen a substantial growth in the industry. However, with the increase in the number of channels, it is important to not just work harder but work smarter to overcome growth challenges.
Do you see a shift to devices other than television for the genre? How important is a digital presence for the channel?
It is absolutely critical. Digital is not just the future but is the present. As more and more content gets consumed on multiple platforms, it is our endeavour to be available to our consumers, wherever they want to consume our content. We are in the process of putting up a digital news network which is a part of our growth strategy.
News Broadcasters Association has been vociferous in its condemnation of carriage fee since this has been the biggest bane for the news broadcasting industry. What are BTVi’s views on this?
I wouldn’t like to comment, especially since there is a new tariff order circulated by TRAI. Once we get clarity, we will be able to decipher whether it’s a bane or a boon for the industry.
Unlike other genres, ad spots on news channels are cheaper. Is the 12-minute ad-cap justifiable for the genre?
Whilst the rates on English business news channels are lower than other genres, we provide brand solutions to clients which go beyond ad spot rates. We take pride in creating content for them, integrating their brand to our existing content and offering 360-degree brand solutions.
How do you see integrated Urban+Rural ratings from BARC altering marketing budgets, if at all?
We, as an English business news channel offering, focus on English speaking audiences in key metros. For these audiences, we are available across all platforms. In coming months, we will be far stronger on the digital play as well.