On 1 June 2012, Star News, Star Ananda and Star Majha will become ABP News, ABP Ananda and ABP Majha, respectively. We wanted to get the complete story behind the change, and its potential impact.
1. Ashok Venkatramani, chief executive officer, Media Content & Communication Services (MCCS), the joint venture between ABP (Anandabazar Patrika) and STAR India formed in 2003, explains, “The decision to rebrand MCCS’ news channels was inevitable when STAR India Private Limited decided to withdraw its brand license agreement from MCCS. The act of transition for the three brands commenced in MCCS post a decision between the shareholders to confer a new identity to the three news brands.” According to MCCS, STAR wishes to focus on building its brand around general entertainment, while the core business of ABP is news and it wishes to promote and establish its own brands in the broadcast news space.
Dipankar Das Purkayastha, managing director and chief executive officer, ABP, chose not to comment on the Group’s plans for the channels.
2. The communication campaign for the rebranding is based on the peg that “Everything is the same except the name”. Venkatramani emphasises that there is no repositioning, only rebranding. “The habit of channel viewership is built over a period of time basis a few key elements: content pitch (the neutrality, consistency and credibility with which we give news), anchors or reporters (the people who are our identity), channel look (here our products have been the benchmark in the industry), programmes (some programmes like 24 Ghante 24 Reporter, Saas Bahu Aur Saazish, Kaun Banega Mukhyamantri, are super brands in themselves with their own equity), channel number (the placement deals determine this), and channel name,” he explains. “Of these, the first five elements are the same. Hence the current communication message is an announcement that “Everything is the same except the name”.
The creatives have been developed by Lowe Lintas and the media agency is Mindshare.
A consumer campaign for each of the three channels has been launched in the respective languages, i.e., Hindi, Bengali and Marathi. There is a B2B campaign too, the focus of which is advertisers who have partnered with MCCS over the last few years. “Seamless migration would ensure that our channel equity does not change post the transition,” says Venkatramani.
3. On the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for these channels, Venkatramani says, “The challenge and opportunity for MCCS is the same, which is to stand tall to our commitment to our two largest stakeholders; viewers and advertisers. We have to ensure that the team which has performed over the last few years remains the same and so should the performance.”
The chief executive officer of MCCS doesn’t foresee any change in viewership, and reveals that MCCS has the assurance of advertisers for an unbroken partnership basis the channels’ performance.
4. Anamika Mehta, chief operating officer, Lodestar UM, however, feels that the initial phase could be a struggle and will be volatile from the viewership standpoint. She explains, “For starters, since ABP’s popularity as a brand is limited to Eastern India, the rebranding exercise will see erosion in viewership. While the channels have gone to the market with the campaign highlighting ‘only the name changes’, yet for majority of TV audiences, it would be seen as a new channel launch or even a change in content. The Hindi and Marathi channels would see a greater shift of audiences vis-a-vis Bengali. Secondly, from another perspective, for a news channel, editorial teams and faces are critical. Should the transition from Star to ABP lead to popular faces moving out, it could lead to impact across both viewership and revenues.”
Mehta also notes that if MCCS is able to drive content and face consistency, the loyalists could come back after a few weeks.
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