BARUN DAS is currently the CEO of TV9 Network, India’s No.1 news network in terms of viewership.
Barun, an alumnus of IIT Madras, IIM Calcutta and London School of Economics, has over 25 years of experience in the media sector, both in India and abroad – in top managerial positions and as an entrepreneur.
His last corporate assignment was with Zee News Ltd. (currently Zee Media Corporation Ltd) as its CEO where he held that position for 5 years. Prior to this, he held various top management positions at MCCS (owner of the erstwhile Star group’s news operations in India), India Today Group, ABP Group etc. He worked as the Head of International Business at Astro All Asia, Networks Plc. Kuala Lumpur. After his stint in Zee, Barun turned an entrepreneur and build his start up focusing on the convergence of technology, content and healthcare.
Barun was a member of the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and was a juror for finals of the International Emmys. An avid sportsman, Barun was selected for Junior National team in Bridge during his college days.
TV9 BHARATVARSH has risen to the second position in a very short span .What’s the reason for this achievement?
We have ensured that the three factors that result in viewership growth – content, promotion and distribution – worked in tandem to create a multiplier effect.
We were also lucky that our channel relaunch, initially planned for January, got delayed to March as logo change approvals from the Govt took some time. So finally, the relaunch happened in the third week of March. We restaged the channel with a new look, new FPC, focused distribution and innovative promotions. Due to the pandemic, some of the promotions were held back but local TV Channels and Digital were flooded with our communication.
It was soon followed by Lockdown and this period saw an unprecedented growth in news viewership. This helped drive TV9 Bharatvarsh’s sampling and when viewers liked our content, they stuck on to our channel.
We would like to know about the growth story of TV9 BHARATVARSH?
The meteoric rise of TV9 Bharatvarshhas its roots in the re-launch of the channel in the third week of March this year with a new look, world-class graphics, industry first content formats, focused distribution and innovative marketing. Besides the strategy of successfully synchronizing all these efforts,our agenda-setting content resulted in the stupendous surge in viewership.
Despite being a nascent channel that is just a year old, we have set the agenda many times without compromising on our credibility as it is the first attribute of a news channel.
Our prime time starts at 4 PM with branded programmes one after another and each getting promoted heavily within and outside the channel.
Besides disseminating credible information on COVID, we were the first to identify China as the common enemy to the world and of course India. Our focus on exposing China began way back in April. This is now being replicated across the genre.
We have been very focused on Covid related information in a very formatted structured way. We also turned our focus on global news realising fully well that the Hindi news viewer has an increasing hunger for international news.Our global perspective on news coverage has been widely loved by viewers.
What is your major goal for the TV9 Network?
TV9 Network is currently India’s undisputed No.1 News Network. We have disrupted the news space as it has surged ahead of legacy brands such as Zee Media, News18, ABP News and TV Today Group.
Anchored by the leadership News channels – TV9 Telugu, TV9 Kannada, TV9 Marathi and TV9 Gujarati in respective regional markets and aided by an unprecedented growth of our national Hindi news channel, TV9 Bharatvarsh, TV9 Network has emerged as new leader in India’s News industry and cemented its leadership position.
We will continue to invest in our existing channels and are also looking at launching News Channels in other key regional markets.
As the go-to platform for news content, TV9 Network will be dominating the News space in India nationally and regionally across all key markets.
What would you say on new team of TV9 ?
This business is all about people, the other aspect – technology is just an enabler. For a News business like ours people play a key part in the success. Hence, we have hired the best across content, business and support functions.
On the content and the business side, one really needs good people, and the business is as good as the people are. In fact, the leader or the CEO is also only as good as the team.
TV9 is the undisputed leader in Telugu and Kannada, both strong brands that got built on their own. An early mover advantage got them to a place that is unreachable.
With strong editorial product, you need to build the corporate entity. That is what I have tried to do.
Can you tell us how your business survived during COVID-19?
There has been a growth of over200% in news viewership in the weeks post the lockdown due to COVID-19. This created a massive increase in sampling of news channels and News as a genre saw peaks like never before.
While viewership of News on Television soared high, newspapers and radio have taken a beating during the pandemic.
The increased interest in News on TV has ensured that we were not as severely affected as some other genres or media due to the pandemic.
We are perhaps the only News group that is still continuing to invest heavily as we are optimistic of the business growth.
There are many statements being made to BARC regarding Network’s rating and authenticity…what would you say on this?
Those statements by the competition have already been proved unsubstantiated. BARC has confirmed that their measurement system is robust and the growth of TV9 BHARATVARSH is beyond any doubt.
This episode is behind us now, with the industry, advertisers, key stakeholders and even our competitors accepting and coming to terms with the meteoric growth of TV9 Bharatvarsh which is the No. 2 News Channel in the country.
The growth of TV9 Bharatvarsh has come with an agenda setting content strategy, world class new look, focused distribution and innovative marketing – all working together in tandem.
Those doubting us should do their homework and study our content vis-a-vis viewership data.