Even before Arnab Goswami's Republic TV goes on air, the knives are out among the English TV channels, ready to battle the competition.
On Monday morning, "the nation" woke up to posters of India Today anchor Anjana Om Kashyap pitted against Arnab, prime time's once most popular face as the host of Times Now’s The Newshour.
Anjana, who was an anchor with Aaj Tak until recently, will now be anchoring the prime time slot at India Today – considered a launchpad of sorts for her innings as an English-language journalist.
In a war of billboard advertisements at Noida’s Film City, India Today responded to Republic’s poster that reads “Arnab with you soon” with “Anjana reached and waiting”.
Speaking to The News Minute, India Today Group's marketing head Vivek Malhotra said that “someone had to set the record straight” that “news doesn’t wait for anyone”.
Anjana told The News Minute I have established myself in Aaj Tak, and today, other Hindi news channels look to Aaj Tak and say, ‘let’s do what they do’. The reason for that is we knew how to connect with people. That is what I want to bring to English news. There is a certain disconnect with the audience in English news, and I would like to bridge that gap.
What the Numbers Say
While India Today Group’s aggressive promotional campaign pits the country’s oldest TV news network against Republic TV, the figures paint a different picture.
Weekly impressions are defined as the ‘number of individuals of a target audience who viewed an event, averaged across minutes’. And a look at those impressions gives us a picture of what Arnab is up against, perhaps or what other news channels are up against.
According to BARC’s latest data, Times Now is still the most watched English news channel, followed by NDTV, with India Today at a distant third. While Times Now had received 5,52,000 impressions, India Today received only 3,01,000 impressions on week 16 of BARC data. CNN News 18 was locked at fourth place with 2,37,000 impressions, and BBC World News was the fifth most watched news channel.
Data available on the week 16 impressions among Hindi news channels reveals that Aaj Tak recorded 98,608 impressions, with India TV at 85,342 and Zee News at 78,099. A cursory glance at the data reveals that the size of the English news audience does not even compare to that of the Hindi news audience.
However, at the time of Arnab’s last The Newshour show at Times Now, the channel clocked a mammoth 10,80,000 impressions, according to BARC data. While Times Now still remains the most sought-after English news channel, the approximate gap between the channel and its closest competitor has been reduced by 20-30 percent.
India Today, then and today, remains at the third spot.
A Swing and a Miss?
While Republic TV is yet to respond to India Today’s “poster challenge”, Twitter users seem to have spared neither Anjana nor India Today.