But first, does anyone know when the Times-Reuters tie-up will give birth to their next channel - ETTV, a proposed business channel? I believe they are waiting for when the time is right, but with TV18 trying to muscle into the newspaper space with a proposed takeover of BS? Now, with FT itself on the block and WSJ a potential buyer (though rumours still abound of a proposed BCCL takeover of FT), the entire thing looks a bit weird. Of course, knowing TV18 they will to keep everyone happy (non-compete yada yada) spin BS off into an all-new company I guess as they did with GBN. Anyway, the this concludes the What-The-F*** Rumours of the Day section (WTFROTD) as I shall call it! Oh, maybe one more, according to someone I met yesterday, an IT mogul has his eye (and text messages) on an anchor for a relatively popular channel? Hmmm...
The launch of Metro Now, was the first in a slew of new tabloids coming to a city which has generally shunned tabloids. Of course, we have had Today for a while, but the less said about that the better, but then again, Today is re-launching in a 'bigger and better' launch. There is also the Swedish 'Metro' Free paper (Today's mainstay was free copies at Barista) coming in as well as a new Mid-Day with the Bombay Mid-day organisation running (Tariq Ansari) running the show. All these three will come in by the middle of the the year and the reason - the Delhi Metro.
The logic being that people want to read every morning/evening on the Metro while going home, and Metro usage will boom with the South Delhi-Gurgaon extension of the Yellow Line and the Mayur Vihar-Noida extension of the Blue Line. I already use the Metro on a daily basis, not too far, but because parking near my office is a pain and I can understand the logic. And that is why, I think despite whatever product they launch, the India Today Group has the upper hand. At Rajiv Chowk (CP) and Kashmiri Gate stations they have started out 'India Today Media Marts' (and they are proposing more of these stores down the new lines and other major stops and I believe an agreement with DMRC is already in place). The Media marts may make most of their money selling Nokia cellphones but they are actually nicely laid out magazine and newspaper stores, and while they do sell 'competing' magazines, Outlook, Femina, BusinessWorld etc are all available, there are no competing papers and I'm quite sure there will be no competing tabloids. You have hand it to these guys, they've tried to sew up the distribution game already.
Of course, they can be a twist in the tale, what if HT and ToI decide to distribute Metro Now along with the broadsheets in the morning, Mumbai Mirror style. After all, the main reason for the Mirror's success in Bombay was that it was free and its nice and easy layout made it ideal to take onto the train every morning. Now, that leaves the other two, and I'm still trying to figure out how they will do it. Other than CP, there are few 'vends' where you have people selling newspapers in the day, Delhi is quite unlike Bombay in that regard. It is not that people don't read, but 'how' they read - this is still a 'morninger' city.
However, that brings me back to the question I asked yesterday. Just how many papers can a person read every day and really how many tabloids do you want to read everyday, even if they were free? Of course, the converse logic to that is simple, according to media houses, the aspirational 'English speaking' audience is growing and they will like reading trashy tabloids and more trashy magazines. I still don't know if that will work, but my only question is where on earth will these guys find people to work for them?