Network18 announced the launch of News18.com, a ‘local news’ portal available across web, mobile, and tablet on Republic Day, 26 January. It currently covers news from Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, drawing on news gathering by the ETV Network of news channels, whose Hindi services cover these seven States. Plans are to expand to cover the remaining States of India over the next 18 months.
Arunava Sinha, head, IBNLive.com and News18.com, explains the rationale behind launching the site. Edited excerpts:
What is the idea behind launching the portal now?
Contemporary India lives not just in its metros but also in the growing number of modern and self-contained towns and rural agglomerates across all 28 States and seven Union Territories. This is where news is generated, and it is this news that affects the majority of Indians. And this is where the reach of digital media is growing rapidly. The time was ripe, therefore, for an online news service catering to this India.
Can you share the marketing plans in local markets, and in metros?
The marketing is a combination of mainstream campaigns on TV and online, extensive communication on the ETV news channels to make audiences aware of their online news platform, and locally directed PR communication around local news. In addition, the social graph of news users on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere will be used to take the communication across to online audiences.
Where do you expect the traffic to come from – which markets and SECs?
The traffic is expected from two segments of consumers: those who live in a particular State or town and want news around them; and those who do not live in the particular State or town they belong to, and want news from home.
As with digital media, consumers will largely be digital converts who consume information on their computers, tablets and, most important, mobile phones. Mobile phone owners will constitute a huge segment of consumers.
What is the current team size at News 18?
The entire news gathering team of the ETV news network generates news for News18.com. In addition, a team of online producers and journalists works 24x7 to bring the news online through videos, stories, flashes and alerts.
What will be the language options at News 18? There are videos in Hindi, but the text on the site is still English...
Launched in English, News18.comwill very shortly be launched in Hindi as well. The possibility of being launched in other languages is being evaluated.