We recently met senior management of TV Today to gain insights into the company’s: 1) ad revenue potential; 2) expansion into new markets; and 3) growth trajectory for India Today (English TV news), Tez and Dilli Aaj Tak. Management estimates FY19 ad revenue will get a leg-up from the series of elections (including the general elections). While Aaj Tak has been the dominant leader in the Hindi news genre for many years, India Today too stands at a decent No 3 in the English news genre.
In our view, the sale of the remaining four licenses in the radio business to ENIL will be completed in FY19, which would fetch TV Today Rs 150–Rs 200 crore. TV Today has ample cash, which can be tapped into to fund the expansion of Dilli Tak and Tez operations. We believe that the cash balance and Aaj Tak’s brand presence can serve as a launch pad for the other markets, and that digital and regional expansion offer long-term growth opportunities.
The Hindi news genre is a promising category with a deep reach, aided due to government’s free DTH service called DD Free Dish. According to Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India, Aaj Tak clocked average weekly audience of 309mn in CY17. Nonetheless, the average advertising rate for Aaj Tak is Rs 6000–Rs 7,000 per 10 seconds, which is a fraction of the average for Hindi general entertainment channels (GECs). Hence, we believe Aaj Tak, being the clear No. 1 in Hindi news genre, can demand higher ad rates from advertisers than its competitors. The company can then make gradual investments in content, regional expansion, and online platforms.
TV Today’s English news channel India Today, which was rebranded in May 2015 after sizeable investments in content, marketing and distribution have helped the channel gain both greater viewership and revenue. Although India Today channel is currently incurring losses, it is likely to turn profitable in FY19 which will further have a positive impact on the margins of the company. The Hindi news genre has sizeable weekly audience of 309mn (as per BARC India’s newsletter The changing Face of TV in India).