India’s News9 Plus reinvents news in the OTT space

By Paula Felps


Nashville, Tennessee, United States


With a growing awareness of the migration of audiences from print to digital, publishers are looking for alternative ways to reach their audiences.

For India’s TV9 Network, this meant disrupting the news industry through a combination of product, content, and packaging designed to appeal to a discerning English-speaking audience. The new product, News9 Plus, launched in March 2022.

During a recent Webinar, INMA members heard from Raktim Das, chief growth officer at TV9 Network, who explained the company had spent the last 12 months perfecting what it set out to do: “We are referring to News9 Plus as the world’s first news OTT,” he said, noting this is the first such product in India. “As we progress in time, we’ll also take this product to the rest of the world.”

The new approach takes the news to the next level: The production quality is movie-worthy and “far superior to what we generally see in a news genre,” he said. That has been entirely intentional, as the company “felt that we need to maintain the production quality and the values while maintaining the overall personality of a news brand.”

News9 Plus is the world’s first news OTT and was developed in response to the shrinking viewership amongst traditional English-speaking TV channels.
News9 Plus is the world’s first news OTT and was developed in response to the shrinking viewership amongst traditional English-speaking TV channels.

English news consumption on traditional satellite and cable television is shrinking, with audiences moving to the OTT format, Das said. TV9 Network has traditional channels in six languages but did not have an English language channel. The creation of News9 Plus sees it making the leap to attract English news viewers while also being ahead of the curve and appealing to cord-cutters.   

“As we progress from a current base of about 20 million (viewers), when we reach about 50 million, 60 million, by the next two or three years’ time, we’ll have a whole new English news audience available to us.”

Compelling content meets exceptional packaging

In addition to top-notch production values, the content packaging steps out of the traditional format with a layout Das referred to as “the Netflix of news.” It offers recommendations on what to watch and allows users to resume watching content where they left off; it also shows new releases. The thumbnail covers for every programme are visually appealing and offer a similar visual experience as Netflix.

“Each and every piece of content is almost like a magazine cover,” he said.

There are also tracks for daily news segments, infotainment content, and content in categories including politics, business and economy, sports, and entertainment.

“The duration [of each programme] is about nine to 12 minutes, and there will also be content in long form, which is typically around 20 minutes,” Das said. They will also create several series.


News9 Plus has created an extensive range of content offerings.
News9 Plus has created an extensive range of content offerings.

Another innovative approach News9 Plus offers is a video news magazine.

“It gives you in-depth [stories], not only in-depth analysis but also an in-depth storytelling format. It’ll give you in-depth analysis of some of the top news events,” Das said, noting the unique format helps give it evergreen appeal. “I can look at the app and pick up a particular piece of content around some of the news events which happened maybe two weeks back. So that is one way we are differentiating the product.”

The storytelling format allows News9 Plus to convert news into content, using more narrative to attract consumers’ attention and drive engagement, he said. The titles of the pieces are compelling and drive both curiosity and interest, with names like “India’s Looted Treasure,” “Sextortion,” and “Frenemies: Can India & China Be Friends?”

Content falls into one of three core buckets:

  • Daily news briefs, which have explainers and the day’s top stories. Eight or nine briefs are produced daily.
  • Specific tracks, which are divided by issues such as politics, business and economy, etc. “We’ll pick up some of the issues of national interest and then have a lot of talking heads come and speak about it,” Das said.
  • Premium entertainment. These are longer-form programmes that are ideal for weekend binge-viewing.

“Every week, we drop about seven to 10 cover stories,” he said. “These are some of the top stories which give us the maximum amount of watch time. These are the stories which give us the maximum amount of downloads. And then you have the rest of the content drops, which keeps happening throughout the week.”

The content covers a diverse range of subjects to appeal to a wide range of viewers.
The content covers a diverse range of subjects to appeal to a wide range of viewers.

Built on journalism

For all its slick visual presentation and movie-like quality, News9 Plus adheres to strict journalism standards.

“The focus of everything is pure journalism,” Das said. However, the format is unlike traditional television reporting, which is part of what makes it so appealing to audiences. In the series Duologue, guests sit down with Barun Das for a conversation — not an interview.

“We’re referring to it as a duologue because it’s a conversation between two persons,” Das said. “So each one is speaking to each other, trying to bring out the best in the other person, the best in the other professional, bringing out the secret of the leadership success and trying to understand each other’s best practices. That’s the difference in each and every piece of content that we are producing.”

Trailers or promos are created for each piece of content that drops, and Das said he is exceptionally proud that News9 Plus has been able to do all this in-house. Although the brand is just one year old, it has won numerous awards for its work and is being hailed by industry influencers as a groundbreaking media innovation.

And there’s more to come.

“Soon we’ll be coming up with a 24-hour streaming service, which will be News9 Live,” he said. The 24-hour streaming English news channel will also have a lot of content from News9 Plus. Last week, it launched News Net Plus, and soon it will launch the 24-hour Fast channel, a free, ad-supported television channel. 

About Paula Felps

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