News9 Plus will deliver news to ‘GenFlix’ in their language, idiom & format: Barun Das

The platform is slated for beta launch this month, followed by full-scale take-off in March.

Mumbai: TV9 has launched an English video news magazine in an OTT format called News9 Plus, as previously reported by The platform is slated for a beta launch this month, followed by a full-scale take-off in March.

News9 Plus continues the legacy of News9 the network’s erstwhile English news channel out of Bengaluru. The digital platform will be a subscription-driven on-demand news product. “It will showcase news, narratives, and debates with the depth and gravitas of news magazines and the production qualities and story-telling techniques of OTT platforms,” said the statement.

TV9 Network to launch new digital video magazine platform 

The channel will break away from 24-hour live news commentary. Rather, a sizeable number of special videos that will have a longer shelf life and cater to diverse audience preferences will define its market standing, the statement added.

News9 Plus will host a variety of ‘rail tracks’ that will cater to the news of the day for the purpose of providing context to the extensive programming that will define the app. It will showcase editorially rich, long shelf-life content that has relevance beyond the immediate.

"Historically, the Indian news genre has undermined itself with a huge self-created handicap,” said TV9 Network CEO Barun Das. “It has never leveraged India's core strength - its large consumer base. Newspapers have always subsidised the reader and TV news channels are mostly free to air. Hence, we have lived with tremendous pressure on ad revenue. On the other hand, consumers have just about started paying for digital news. However, this propensity to pay for digital news will depend on how effectively digital news platforms can serve the consumer ‘what they want, when they want.’

"The English news television space has shrunk dramatically over the past few years in viewership and revenue. So, it seemed obvious to us that this English-speaking audience - often the early adapters - are waiting for an OTT news service," Das said. "To my mind, linear news television will make way for OTT news service in the near future. Hindi and regional language markets may continue in the current linear TV mode for some more time, but it is certainly time for a cutting-edge OTT news offering in English that marries the best UI/UX that technology can offer with incisive, in-depth, intelligent and engaging content. News9 Plus will strive to be that exact amalgam.”

He further said, “News is no more about breaking it as it happens every nano-second on social media. It must now adapt to the new, exacting content standards which the ‘GenFlix,’ or Generation Netflix, has become accustomed to. News9 Plus will fill the void created by the diminishing footprint of news magazines in the digital era. And it will do it in the only medium the digital native cares about: video.”

Das also sounded a cautionary note for the news industry. He said, "We are proud to be the first OTT news service, not only in India but possibly in the world. I sincerely hope that when the OTT news service pans out in India, it will not repeat the blunders of the past in creating its own death trap by setting off subscription price wars and rendering the business unviable. I am certain this new model will be an SVOD (subscription-based video on demand) model and advertising revenue, if any, will make only a minuscule contribution."

“At TV9 Network, it is clear to us where the discerning English news viewer is going and why,” observed TV9 Network group editor BV Rao. “The ‘GenFlix’ English news viewers are not running away from news. They are running away from the cacophony that television news has come to represent. Exposed as they are to the best of the best global content on OTT, these discerning news viewers do not relate to the 'you bite me, I bite you' journalism that has struck deep roots on television. ‘GenFlix’ has no appetite for such content.   So, the future news business battles will have to be fought in the OTT environment.  For us, that future is now. And we call it News9 Plus."

Subscribers will find unique series, seasons, and episodes on News9 Plus, just like OTT platforms offer. But the differentiator here will be the editorial nuance and the rigour of journalism that makes the content factually grounded, credibly narrated and engagingly produced. News9 Plus hopes to create an experience that audiences spoilt for a plethora of non-news choices in the OTT era would choose to watch.

“Subscribers will find unique series, seasons, and episodes on News9 Plus, just like OTT platforms offer. But the differentiator here will be the editorial nuance and the rigour of journalism that makes the content factually grounded, credibly narrated and engagingly produced,” said the statement.

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