Jaldi 5 with Sudipto Chowdhuri, CRO, India TV: Numbers alone do not sell

08 Sep,2021

Sudipto Chowdhuri

Even as we thought the multiple lockdowns and the fear of the Third Wave had impacted the adspends climate, India TV has come up a sales initiative for its election show ‘Abki Baar Kiski Sarkar’ where sponsorship will be sold by invitation only.  The show will cover the elections for Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand Assembly. In the first of our new ‘season’ of Jaldi 5 interviews, we spoke with India TV’s CRO Sudipto Chowdhuri

 

Isn’t your move to only take your main sponsors for your primary election show on invitation a bit audacious, given the fact that adspends haven’t really come out of the low that we’ve had since the pandemic struck us?

If you take the meaning of audacious as taking surprisingly bold risks then yes, it is. But as far as we at India TV, are concerned, NO, it’s not audacious. We want the most relevant brands to be on board, both in terms of relevance to viewers and also in terms of relevance to the priority of that market. Then only their affinity will make a whole lot of sense to the viewers, help the viewers, and therefore will also help the channel.

Markets, as always, will keep fluctuating basis many unforeseen incidents and will keep surprising us, but a true leadership brand like ours, will always find out new ways to reinvent ourselves. That’s why we Lead and create paths for many to follow.

 

There are some who may say that there are in any case only an x number of advertisers who would possibly spend the kind of money you need. So please do address this sentiment that this is perhaps a gimmick?

There will always be an x number of advertisers on a channel, or, even across all channels in the genre, because it’s a finite inventory business like airlines/ hotel etc. We would love to see a channel which carries ALL advertisers of this country on their platform. It’s anyway not possible.

If Elon Musk would have asked someone that he wants to put a car in the orbit, then I am sure, he couldn’t have done that ever in his entire lifetime. Most people are formatted… so, there will always be someone who won’t understand. There will always be someone who won’t agree. There will always be someone who won’t believe.

That’s okay.

 

We’ve not had ratings for news channels coming out of BARC since early October of 2020. Does this impact ad sales for the news sector? Especially for innovations such as this?

Not at all. Advertisers are smart, intelligent, educated, experienced and well-informed. They know exactly where they should spend, how much they should spend and what ROI to expect. Agencies also help them to understand the impact of every rupee that they spend on each platform and even qualitative parameters are important.

We must understand that in this industry numbers alone do not sell. Numbers are just indicators given the kind of extrapolation which happens. Perception, Credibility, Service parameters, Commitment levels, Balanced approach on screen, Viewing comforts… all these and many more are crucial when it comes to deciding about a news channel to advertise on. Not just numbers. So not having ratings will not impact business at all for the established, credible channels. Smaller or Newer channels?? May be YES!

 

Almost every news channel has a flagship show around the elections, and this time you have the all-important Uttar Pradesh election. How do you differentiate what you have against what others have to offer?

Historically, we have always been successful in creating differentiation in our programming and that also in a genre where content differentiation is very minimal because we present Live News. India TV has stalwarts like Ms Ritu Dhawan and Mr Rajat Sharma, who have seen the television industry since 1989, when few even knew about TV business. Aap Ki Adalat, Aaj Ki Baat, Corona Se Jung Swami Ramdev Ke Sang, Bhavisya Vaani, Cricket Ki Baat and many more programmes are already being aired on India TV and therefore we know exactly what needs to be done to make this programme ‘Abki Baar Kiski Sarkar’ successful.

 

As a veteran media sales professional, do you think your strategy of invitation-only advertising is the way to go?

I have been too young for too long, so I am not sure if I am a veteran, but then, yes, I genuinely feel that inviting the right kind of clients, for ‘’right kind of programmes’’ and connecting them to the right kind of viewers is the way forward for the channels leading the genre.  Unfortunately, due to various reasons, advertising has become commoditised and that’s not a great thing for the industry. News channels deliver substantial reach and credible live news, and the viewers watch the content with much more seriousness, compared to a GEC or Movie genre channel.

The value WE bring on the table as a news genre / channel, is far more relevant and serious. We impact Lives. We help trigger travel plans. We capture pains / emotions and what not. Daily. 24×7.

So, we need to have more respect from our partners / advertisers and business associates when they invest on us and under no circumstances advertising on top news channels can be sold as ‘bhajji–pav’ with free value adds. Our credibility has a rub-off on their credibility as well. New products seen on a ‘’credible news channel’’ is also accepted as a ‘’credible brand’’ and this is ‘’priceless’’.

Someone must start the process of meaningful and respectful partnership. So, as a leader channel, we thought of taking the first step, and we are more than confident that it will help the brand, the viewers, and the industry.

 

 

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