Jaldi 5 with Priya Mukherjee: What’s the secret sauce of a news channel being #1?

27 Jun,2022

In May 2022, India TV announced the appointment of Priya Mukherjee as Group President- Network Development. Mukherjee had just a year before that been with the Republic Media Network where she was part of the founding team and got the channel to the #1 status. And now in the last few weeks, India TV has been on top of the ratings roster from amongst Hindi news channels.

 

We posed questions to Priya Mukherjee in a new season of our Jaldi 5 interviews. Here goes

 

Priya Mukherjee

Priya Mukherjee

The Lady with the Midas Touch, we would say! India TV @ 1!

How much ever one would like to think that J,  we all know its not true.  It is never about one person, it’s always about the team, led from the front by the vision of our beloved Chairman and MD. It involves dedication and toil of our ever-growing team of professionals, who work – tirelessly, in a coordinated effort at the back-end.  In a short period, India TV has created benchmarks in innovation, impact, ratings, viewer engagement and viewer-support.

 

In today’s rampant me-too-ism, India TV is, perhaps, the only Hindi news channel that is perceived as “courageous” and “different.” The channel’s No.1 position is no accident. It is the result of Rituji and Rajatji leading the way on the lonely path of “credibility first.” It is the result of their efforts where the viewer’s interest has been paramount.

 

But the gap between #1 and #2 is precariously narrow, as is the case with top 4/5. What measures are you taking to ensure India TV maintains the lead?

We work extensively on the ground, to bridge the gaps in our distribution. The basics of distribution need to be followed always- 100% AVAILABILITY & VISIBILITY. We follow the strategy of “Hold”, “Increase” and “Add” to continuously maintain and grow our reach. We are keeping a razor-like focus and holding our urban reach and improving our rural reach. This growth in reach along with high stickiness in turn helps achieve marketshare.

 

On a lighter note, it is also amusing to see some Hindi News channels self-proclaiming to  being No1 – All India- when the real benchmark for any Hindi channel as we know is Hindi Speaking Markets!

 

Its not that India TV hasn’t been on top, but in the last few years, there have been some tectonic changes in the distribution space. Give us the ingredients of your secret sauce that helped you achieve this?

The channel always kept the viewer at the fore front of everything it did, which is evident from the high viewer engagement through time spent, we always garnered. And has been a consistent No 2. We are very aware of the pulse of our viewers , who have been supporting us over the years.

 

What works for us other than this is how we work and use data to make continuous on ground distribution changes in our core markets. My team works on creating long-term partnerships with the affiliate networks, who have helped us grow our organic reach and that  gives a huge boost to the channel achieving no 1 Market share. We have always been doing well in Urban markets and now are focusing on bridging the gaps in the Rural markets.

 

Good distribution is built on four pillars: Data, Information, Relationship and Speed.

 

It’s said (rightly or wrongly) that viewership data of channels is based more on dynamics like landing page, extra promotion in certain geographies and do whatever it takes to get high numbers. Is this perception correct? Please do tell what’s the situation in reality?  And what’s your view on landing pages?

To each its own. It is a promotional tool for broadcasters and a revenue stream for platforms. Promotional tools are a part and parcel of any distribution set-up –  be it FMCG or media. The organisation’s objectives, financials and requirements define what strategy is to be adopted. Ultimately, it is for the honourable regulatory authorities to debate and decide on its merits and demerits. India TV, has always taken a long-term view, of how we approach our distribution strategy. Our clear focus is on organic reach growth and strengthening our core viewer base with the support of our Affiliate cable and DTH Networks.

 

One last Question: According to you, what contributes to the ratings of success of a channel: Content or Pushing Reach?   

It’s always a combination of couple of things done right.  We take a long-term view of things and strive at creating a potent balance of quality content and enhanced reach. This coupled by the data inputs provided by research, helps us in making smart and calculated choices, which has worked in our favor on content, bridging the reach gap and hence the success of the channel.

 

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