Nikhil Gandhi, President- Revenue, Times Network says contracts have been renewed with all primetime sponsors for all news channels and 20 new brands have been added to its kitty
BY MADHUWANTI SAHA
The positive response to extended primetime bands for all the news channels of Times Network have resulted in contract renewals of all the primetime sponsors, says Nikhil Gandhi, President- Revenue, Times Network. “We have added 20 new brands to our primetime offering across Times Now, Mirror Now and ET Now. There is a 40% increase in the number of sponsors since last year,” he says.
The sponsors have renewed their contracts at 10-15% hike, according to Gandhi. This includes Chinese handset brand Vivo, Syska, automobile-maker Hyundai Motor India and Kent RO among others. “In some cases, we have done joint deals with CP Plus and LIC Housing Finance, among others. Most of them take three channels as they believe in variety in primetime,” Gandhi explains.
Apart from the extended primetime launch from 9-11 am to 8-11 pm six months ago with new faces, Gandhi also credits the contract renewals to the distribution reach which has doubled and in some cases trebled. He says, “At Times Now, we have editor-in-chief Rahul Shivshankar (8-9pm), Navika Kumar (9-10 pm), and Anand Narsimhan (10-11 pm). The offerings of Times Now changed from what it was earlier. The anchors drive different sets of followers for the kind of debates that they conduct.”
Mirror Now has Hettich India and more recently, Amazon Prime, as channel partners. Its primetime offering ‘The Urban Debate’ has sponsors ranging from Ford, LIC Housing Finance to Kurl On. ‘India Development Debate’ on ET Now has attracted five sponsors including Tappme and NSE. “India Development Debate is now generating about 25% of channel revenues of primetime revenues. It’s 40% and 50% in the case of Times Now and Mirror Now respectively,” Gandhi says.
Hyundai Motor India follows a ‘Smart Marketing’ strategy with a strong focus on targeted television advertising supported by an integrated 360-degree marketing plan. Puneet Anand, Sr. GM and Group Head – Marketing, Hyundai Motor India, has definitely been able to connect with the brand’s TG, he says, adding, “Our endeavour at Hyundai has also been to collaborate with impact properties in order to connect with diverse customer aspirations. Our long-term collaboration with Times Now and ET Now has supported us in connecting with the elite and affluent audience.”
Hettich India’s alliance as channel partner with the newest channel Mirror Now earlier this year has also worked for them. Anil Goel, Managing Director, Hettich India, is content with the way the channel has shaped up. He says, “Faye D’Souza has taken up many important issues and made an impact with thought leaders and influencers in the country which has helped our brand immensely.”
Kent RO has associated with Times Now (SD and HD) and Mirror Now for ‘India Upfront’ and ‘The Urban Debate’ respectively. Paresh Ranjan Karan, Sr. Manager, Marketing - Electronic Media, Kent RO, points out that the shows discussing ‘political coverage and critical sensitive citizen issues’ create the best impact combination for their brand positioning and promotion. He says, “Through advertising on primetime and impact programmes, we have been able to reach our potential TG and have conveyed our desired messages to them. Our partnership with such programmes has built a brand imagery that we care for the country and the wellness of citizens in the minds of viewers.”
In the HD space, Gandhi says 25% of the advertisers are only on HD. He adds, “There is no other news channel that is in HD and that really makes our offering far more exclusive.”
Times Network is also changing the primetime consumption of debate from passive to active with a site called invol. in. Gandhi says, “You can log in and send your thoughts to people who are debating on the channel. On a real-time basis, we get to know the sentiment of the country on the debate.” It has also attracted sponsors. “We are currently developing the back-end for invol.in in terms of how advertisers can leverage its active engagement with viewers,” Gandhi adds.
According to Gandhi, every primetime debate programme generated upto 10,000 tweets over and above invol.in. “Most of our primetime sponsors and channel partners are also buying our social media extensions and offerings at additional cost,” he states, adding that Times Network is also setting up a huge network for digital called timesnownews.com.