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CNNMoney looks to grow in India
MUMBAI: A year ago news broadcaster CNN’s digital division CNN Digital launched the online business and financial news destination CNNMoney in India. Satisfied with the results of the experiment, the company next month will launch a subsection on CNNMoney International dedicated to India.
CNNMoney International editor Mark Thompson said that the first step towards focusing on India more was to hire Rishi Iyengar as India editor of CNNMoney. Now CNNMoney will have a subsection on the CNNMoney International page for India and this is the first time that the site is doing this for any country.
“This is a really big moment for us. CNNMoney has only had an international presence in the last four years. We have grown very rapidly. We are looking to see if we can make this subsection work and we are very excited by it. The reason is that while the developed economies and most of the emerging market economies are slowing, India seems to be sustaining a very robust growth rate and it is expected to do for the next several years.
“Consumers want stories explaining what is happening in the major economies of the world such as India. We are at an early stage. We will develop new lines of content and coverage to support the subsection. Text and video content are both growing in India in popularity,” Thompson said.
Iyengar will collaborate with CNN’s resources. There are presently no plans for regional-language content for India, but the possibilities of doing CNNMoney in other languages have been discussed over the past year. There is already CNNMoney in Arabic and in Spanish.
Iyengar’s appointment comes at a time when CNNMoney has expanded globally by adding positions in markets like Hong Kong, Dubai and London.
A younger Indian audience
Thompson noted that the average age of CNNMoney’s audience in the country is 36 years of age, which is four years younger than the global average age of CNNMoney. “That is because of the video offering that we have and how we programme our content. It is also about the kinds of stories that we do,” he said.
An intense focus is placed on technology stories, which are by far what Indians prefer. The site covered action happening in the 4G space with things like Jio and also about the government’s auction of spectrum where things did not work so well. The problem with Samsung’s new phone was another major news issue for the site.
The economy and markets are the other things that interest Indians. For the global audience, the focus is on global sectors like automotive and aviation. Finance is always a part of the mix. The site also looks at management strategies and how big global brands are keeping pace with the times.
The importance of mobile
CNNMoney thinks mobile first and over half the content usage happens through mobile globally. “We think very hard about how our stories will appear on mobile devices. We know that whatever we do has to be really mobile friendly. Think global, think mobile is what we do,” he explained.
The USP of CNNMoney is that it offers a global business overview for non-finance professionals. “They are not constantly dealing with financial markets. They are in very senior positions. They are influential, wealthy, highly educated. We try to address their needs. We tell stories in an engaging way and avoid technical language and jargon. We want people to understand what we say.
“We explain stories in a very straightforward way. For everybody English is not a first language. We keep that in mind. We are ahead of Wall Street Journal online, Bloomberg online,” he added.
Another USP is CNNMoney’s video assets, which he calls ‘incredible’.
CNNMoney for CNN
“CNNMoney is very important for CNN. We are a part of CNN Digital, which has just received a significant investment from CNN. We recognise that our audience is on digital, online. CNN Digital got a big investment and within that CNNMoney received a reasonable chunk. We are a premium business within the organisation. We have robust plans to grow the business, audience and that is taking various forms. We recently launched a new app CNNMoney Stream,” Thompson added.
There is now one integrated operation for business news globally under the CNNMoney brand. On-air programming is now CNNMoney branded. There are daily shows on-air on CNN International. There is resource sharing. The CNNMoney digital team and the on-air producers discuss and share story ideas, newsgathering resources. There is collaboration on the ground.
Thinking for digital
Thompson noted that for TV journalists who now have to also think about digital, it is an evolutionary process and not revolutionary. “They have to think about other ways of telling stories through still images and videos, which work well on social platforms.”
The challenge that CNNMoney faces on a daily basis is to ruthlessly select stories that really matter and resonate with the audience. Then the company has to tell these stories in a way that people can relate to. Every day there is a flood of news from around the world. Stories have to be selected and then distilled so that they are interesting, engaging and of value to an audience. “What is it that we want to present to our audience is what we think about,” Thompson stated.