‘We want India Today TV to be #1 in Viewers’ Faith’

28 May,2015


The India Today group has in the recent past been working hard on having all its media brands work in sync with each other. Last Saturday, at 6pm on May 23 to be precise, Headlines Today, the group’s English-language news channel, was rechristened India Today Television, named after the flagship news magazine. In this interview with MxMIndia, Ashish Bagga, Group CEO, India Today talks about the rebranding and how more than ratings, the objective is to make the channel numero uno in viewers’ faith.


Over the last few months, ever since Karan Thapar and Rajdeep Sardesai have come on board, Headlines Today has seen a steady rise in popularity (though I am sure your marketing team will say that rise started even before they came on board). So why change the name?

The brand equity of a 40 year legacy is incomparable to any product of today. The attributes the new channel will stand for, like Zero bias, Credibility, Neutrality, Depth are best communicated in two words ‘India Today’ – the brand that has defined the national agenda  – A brand that is in itself an institution of purest form of journalism. At a time when this viewer is yearning for meaningful journalism, what better way to deliver it than with a name that’s stood for it and stands for it. Ushering and nurturing top editorial talent was part of the strategy for the launch of INDIA TODAY TELEVISION.


The Hindi edition of India Today magazine (the printed avatar) has the same name as the English one. Will you consider changing the name of Aaj Tak (the TV Channel) to India Today? Why?

Aaj Tak has been an undisputed leader for 14 years since inception and has lately achieved a continuous 100 week nonstop leadership streak. It is a symbol of unshakeable trust and the nation turns to only one news channel when it really matters…. Trust is built with a lot of hard work and sincerity over many many years… A question to rename, therefore definitely does not arise.. India Today and Aaj Tak are both mega brands and playing their roles very very well in respective spaces.


We see the aggressiveness in English news channels really hard to beat – quite like it took a long, long time to get over the ‘angry young man’ image of Amitabh Bachchan era of the 1970s and early 80s. In the Hindi genre too, we have seen that the dumbing down has played rich dividends? Do you think a serious news channel will ever work in terms of ratings?

News consumption habits have evolved considerably with people consuming news content across media and platforms. TV news is still linear and gives only one story at a time leading to lot of missed news and viewer disconnect. What this space awaits is revolutionising the delivery and integrating with digital. An involvement level of the consumer needs to be built in. If you’ve got these elements right, there is definitely not just space but a very strong opportunity for a serious news channel. On Hindi, I disagree with dumbing down. Talking the people’s language and dumbing down are two very different things. I think all the channels in leading position are taking their news and content very seriously.


Running an English channel obviously requires huge investments of monies. Is it really worthwhile making such huge investments at a time when the environment is uncertain and the ‘achche din’ haven’t really arrived?

We’ve had an increasing rate of return on the investments made on the English channel. If the product is drawing quality audience, revenue will follow. Yes, costs are high, but they also bring along disproportionate returns if the strategy is right and the brand is strong. More so in the English news space than any other.


Given the current scenario in English news television, do you think the one-upmanship which typically exists in the space can also mar the image of India Today, which has a 40-year-old legacy, brand dominance and is much trusted?

The purpose of India Today Television’s entry is to try and move the genre away from one-upmanship. The only person who should be one up, should be the new news consumer. A consumer who has options, a consumer who sees through the claims, a consumer who prefers depth over breaking news, a consumer who doesn’t want forced opinions. If we keep our consumer ahead, we believe we keep ourselves ahead


As per information that we’ve got from the market, the ad rates of Headlines Today were much, much lesser than those of a Times Now. Will all of that change?

The feedback has been very positive. While we wouldn’t like to disclose our commercial rates or to enter a comparison, we are surely seeing an upward tick even before the launch


The India Today group also has some other English products in the general news space – Mail Today and Daily O. Will see a rechristening there too?

No plans


Any targets of by when do you hope to see yourself as the #1 All-India?

The space in TRP terms is very small and rankings change week by week. Therefore, our attempt is to first become No.1 in the viewer’s faith – his/her reliability on our news. To become the destination channel when it matters to him/her. To stand out as a news channel that makes sense. The rankings will follow… is a matter of time. What is more important is to become the viewer’s knowledge source and not an entertainment hangout.


Post a Comment 

Comments are closed.