BBC World News earlier this year announced findings of its studies which tried to gauge changing interest in international news. The findings were from USA, Germany, Japan, South Africa, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and India. In India, 84 per cent of respondents said they were more concerned about world events than before. This compared with a global average of 69 per cent. The growing interest of Indians in foreign news was corroborated by Chris Davies, marketing and sales director, BBC Global News, in conversation with Campaign India.
Davies touched upon the prime time news segment’s expansion beyond the 9 to 10 pm slot. “Prime time generally tends to be the evening slot in most countries. We do get big spikes in traffic in the morning slot as well. But generally speaking, post 8 pm up until maybe 11 pm (even sometimes 12 pm). In the US, we get spikes quite late into the evening.”
The executive noted the changed nature of news consumption that’s behind the expanded ‘prime time’. Besides the day’s events, what they’re also getting now is more choice in terms of broader and more feature-based content, he said. He cited ‘Outside Source’ as a popular programme for BBC globally, which reports from around the world and also uses social media and online information to ‘bring the story alive’.
BBC World News had recently launched an app (upgrade number three of which is running now). Davies offered an update on the off-take: “We’ve had an app for a while and it is doing well. It is more personalised now so you can create sections of content in the app that you’re interested in. We’ve had a big pick up in users but what’s interesting is the massive jump in video. People are using it to watch more of video content. With 4G coming, it is really prime for more of video content consumption coming in with a lot more of an engaged audience than we’ve had before.”
Davies noted that the app, which offered both text and video, would allow urban and rural users ease of access (in case the bandwidth doesn’t allow video viewing).
On whether brand loyalty is as big a factor given consumers are far more comfortable with digital, and the abundance of news sources and choices therein, Davies contended that people remain loyal to a particular news brand. He explained, “People are loyal to the BBC because they see it has quality, trusted, impartial news service with a truly global perspective and that’s what we offer to all audiences in all countries. In terms of digital, it just gives you the choice of platform on which you want to consume the content.”
He added, “We’ve got research that shows people will dip in into the mobile phone may be three or four times a day to get the news content. They’re checking the headlines quickly, then they might be going on to the web to spend a bit more time researching a news story or reading into it and then they might supplement that with TV in the evening with prime time, with that being more of a lean-back experience. For us, it is about making sure we have content that is relevant and suited to the time of day during which it is meant to be consumed. Loyalty is just as important now as it ever was. You just want to make sure you have the content made available for your consumers.”
He spoke about the advertiser going beyond wanting just air time to looking for content solutions. This, he says, is where BBC Storyworks (content marketing team within BBC Advertising), launched in June 2015, fits in.
Davies said, “We talk to a lot of advertisers about advertising with us on a lot of our platforms – mobile, digital, TV etc. The advertiser is looking to buy the audience. We’ve done lots of different types of advertising solutions but we’re increasingly doing content solutions now. We’ve set up a new (global) content marketing team called BBC Storyworks and we’re in active conversation with clients about doing branded content solutions.”
In terms of branded content solutions for advertisers in the Indian market, there are no live projects currently, but the BBC is certainly interested.
The Indian market
India, Davies said, continues to remain one of the prioriy markets for BBC News, both in terms of audience size and advertisers: “As a marketer is if I’ve got over 200 markets that I promote BBC News in and in some form or other, I focus in on may be just five to 10 primary priority markets and India every year is always one of the top five. So that’s about making sure we’ve got good brand awareness but we’re doing a lot to promote ourselves in the advertising industry. We’re reaching clients, we’re reaching media agencies, we do events, so it is a very important market for us.”
From an editorial perspective there’s a lot of interest in the Indian economy, he added. “We’ve just done a series called ‘India Rising’. We’re finding that our audience in India is quite young compared to the other markets; around 35 years old (on average) which is quite interesting for us. Over and above the World News TV’s Make the Connection and Outside Source campaigns and the forthcoming push around Prime Minister Modi’s UK Visit, our language services are also active. BBC World Service has an upcoming BBC Dunia campaign that would release post Diwali marking the launch of our new 10 minute news bulletin on ETV network.”
Earlier this month, BBC launched a Japanese language website which essentially is a translation of BBC.com. Davies spoke about the kind of traction expected from that move. “It launched just two to three weeks ago. We got good pick up. We’re waiting for a month’s worth data to come through. We’re expecting it to do well and if it does then we’ll be thinking about whether we might roll that out in other markets. But Japan in particular is one of the markets where we wanted to reach audiences for whom English might be a bit of a barrier. That was a market where translation was important to the audience.”