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Content refresh, sting operations give News18 India a leg-up

MUMBAI: Prime-time content refresh and a series of sting operations have given TV18’s Hindi news channel News18 India a leg up in viewership, the channel’s consulting editor Prabal Pratap Singh has said.

From being ranked eighth among the Hindi news channels to consistently featuring in the top 5—the channel has come a long way.

The erstwhile IBN7 was rebranded as News18 India on the lines of its English news sibling CNN-IBN, which got renamed CNN-News18. News18 is the mother brand of the TV18 Group and the regional channels under ETV brand are likely to follow suit in the coming days.

Coinciding with the rebranding, the channel’s prime-time line-up was also revamped in November with back-to-back shows featuring Sumit Awasthi, Amish Devgan, Kishore Ajwani and Priti Raghunandan.

The channel’s key prime-time shows are ‘Aar Par’ hosted by Amish Devgan at 7 pm, ‘Hum Toh Puchenge’ hosted by Sumit Awasthi at 8 pm, and ‘Sau Baat Ki Ek Baat’ by Kishore Ajwani at 9 pm.

The channel also did a series of sting operations like ‘Operation Namak Haram’, which allegedly exposed top Pakistani film actors and singers living in India and revealed their involvement in black money deals.

“Before the content refresh, we were at the eighth spot, while following the refresh we are No. 2 at prime time from 7 to 10 pm. We did a couple of sting operations which gave us a lot of attention. We are the only ones doing back-to-back debates from 6 to 9 pm and those shows are getting good viewership,” Singh said.

Besides prime time, the channel is also seeing traction in the morning and afternoon slots with news bulletins and afternoon show “Bhabhi Tera Dewar Deewana’, which looks at the Indian television world.

“In the morning, we do only 2–3 stories and we hammer it throughout the day, which is converted into three big prime-time debates. The stories are decided by us and we don’t necessarily follow what other channels are doing,” Singh added.

While selecting a news debate topic, the channel gives equal importance to public interest and viewership potential. “We give equal weighting to serious issues and politics, cricket and Bollywood,” Singh stated.

News18 India is planning to introduce new shows for weekdays.