NDTV planning to launch regional and HD news channels along with NDTV BQ Prime
After Adani’s acquisition of NDTV, this expansion into regional markets is its first significant launch since Goodtimes in 2007, while NDTV BQ Prime will bring together three trusted news brands under one name.
News broadcaster New Delhi Television or NDTV, which was acquired by the Adani multinational conglomerate in 2022, has announced its plans to launch a number of new channels for the first time in over a decade — most of which are regional-language news channels, but there are also two new HD channels in the pipeline, which are the network’s first-ever HD channels. Licences have been obtained from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) for nine new regional channels, and trademarks have been registered with the Government of India’s Intellectual Property Office for these channels plus two new HD channels, which are elaborated below. This is the first major expansion by the country’s first and most pioneering news broadcaster, which has thus far greatly lagged behind rivals like Zee Media (ZMCL), India Today, News18 and ABP in terms of broadcast quality.
Moreover, it has secured a licence for NDTV BQ Prime, an upcoming partnership with the BQ Prime financial website, in which Adani has also acquired a stake, and it is likely that its NDTV Profit/Prime business news channel will adopt this new name going forward. BQ Prime, formerly called BloombergQuint, is jointly run by Quintillion Business Media (QBML) — the business news arm of Quintillion Media, founded by veteran media couple Raghav Bahl and Ritu Kapur after their exit from Network18 in 2014 — and Bloomberg, the global business news corporation which previously used to run the Bloomberg TV channel in India (later rebranded to BTVI and closed in 2019). Adani’s acquisition of a 49% stake in QBML is hardly a coincidence with its investment in NDTV, and this will pave the way for a new business brand that will succeed the floundering NDTV Profit brand, which has struggled to compete with rivals like CNBC-TV18 and ET Now.
Aside from NDTV BQ Prime, the new planned channels are as follows. The nine upcoming regional channels are NDTV Tamil, NDTV Telugu, NDTV Kannada and NDTV Malayalam in South India; NDTV Marathi and NDTV Gujarati in the west; NDTV Bangla in the east; and NDTV Rajasthan and NDTV Madhya Pradesh/Chhattisgarh in the Hindi-speaking northern region. However, other major Hindi heartland states — such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Haryana — have not been considered at this stage, and neither have other regional languages like Punjabi, Assamese and Odia. Moreover, the two new HD channels for which logo trademarks have been filed are NDTV 24×7 HD and NDTV India HD, which will finally bring NDTV into the HD broadcasting era, well over a decade since HD began to gain popularity in the country — though ironically NDTV has had sponsorships with Korean technology giant Samsung in the past, promoting the latter’s 4K camera quality on its Galaxy smartphones!
NDTV’s massive expansion comes after more than a decade of stagnation — particularly in HD
Since 2010, NDTV has been operating only four TV channels: NDTV 24×7 (English national news, launched 2003), NDTV India (Hindi national news, 2003), NDTV Profit/Prime (English business news with some lifestyle shows during evenings and weekends; launched 2005, renamed 2014) and its only non-news channel, Goodtimes (lifestyle/food/travel, stylised as GOODTiMES; originally launched as NDTV Good Times in 2007). While NDTV did launch a few other channels in the late 2000s in partnership with other broadcasters, all of them ceased to exist in a few years’ time — meaning that Goodtimes has been the last launch from NDTV to survive to the present day.
Some of these shuttered channels were a partnership with the then-Turner India, now part of Warner Bros. Discovery: Imagine TV (Hindi entertainment), Lumiere Movies (foreign-language world cinema) and Imagine Showbiz (which later became Big Magic when Reliance ADAG Group acquired it; now owned by Zee, to be sold). Turner India acquired full control of them in 2010, with some name changes (NDTV Imagine -> Imagine TV; NDTV Lumière -> Lumiere Movies), and eventually closed them in 2012 due to losses. Others were niche city-centric news channels: NDTV MetroNation in Delhi, launched in 2006, was axed not long thereafter, and NDTV Hindu in Chennai — a joint venture with the national English-language The Hindu newspaper, which is based in that city — was acquired by the Tamil Dina Thanthi newspaper, and in 2012 it rebranded to Thanthi TV, which remains on air.
As such, while the NDTV brand continues to have immense prestige, and is often considered the gold standard of Indian journalism due to its independent political stance — even as most other news networks have been toeing the line of the ruling government — it has remained severely hamstrung by its lack of technological innovation, with its channels all broadcasting in the inferior 4:3 aspect ratio and low picture quailty. This is especially evident in YouTube videos, where NDTV’s low-quality live-streams and uploads are in great contrast to those by other news broadcasters, which support at least 720p if not 1080p HD. Even though very few Indian news channels have HD feeds on DTH and cable TV platforms — Aaj Tak and Times Now Navbharat (Hindi), Times Now World and CNBC-TV18 Prime HD (English) among private channels; DD News, DD India and Sansad TV among state-owned ones — the SD feeds at least air in the superior 16:9 aspect ratio, which is not the case with NDTV.
While the acquisition by Adani has cast questions over NDTV’s editorial and political independence — given that Gautam Adani is now Asia’s richest man, with strong ties to the government — the new owners have clearly shown their intention to reinvent the country’s most respected news broadcaster in terms of technology, which has been left wanting for so many years as other media houses like Times, ABP, India Today and more recently TV9 and Republic marched ahead. Many, like TV9, ITV Network (which operates India News- and NewsX-branded channels) and News18, have steadily built large regional networks with many channels in major states. ZMCL has also been expanding its already vast offering with its new Kannada satellite news channel and another upcoming in Telugu — complementing four South Indian digital news channels launched in January 2022 — and some more, including Zee News HD, are being planned.
How will NDTV stack up against other big news broadcasters in regional markets?
Below we present a table showing the channels, both national and regional, of major private news broadcasters in the country. As is clearly visible, NDTV will jump from zero to nine regional markets, and from 3 to 14 news channels (15 overall including Goodtimes), which is an impressive growth — though some key states like Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Bihar remain missing for the time being — and this will go a long way in transforming its perception from a highbrow, urban, Delhi/Mumbai-centric, Hindi/English-speaking broadcaster to one that connects with the ordinary person across multiple languages and regions. Note, however, that some national news broadcasters — notably Times, India Today and Republic — have only national news channels (like NDTV so far) and not regional ones; though Republic does have Republic Bangla, it is yet to launch any other regional news channel as planned several years before. Still, we have also included them here for the sake of comparison with their competitors.
Several of these channels — like some regional news channels from ZMCL as well as India Today’s Aaj Tak 2 and Business Today TV — are present only on digital platforms, while ABP’s presence in South India [ABP Nadu (Tamil) and ABP Desam (Telugu)] is confined only to a news portal in these languages, and at present there is no TV channel (not even a digital-only one) for them. (Smaller networks with a presence in Hindi regional states but not other states — like Samay, News Nation and News 24 — have been ignored, though News Nation recently launched its first non-Hindi regional news channel: News State Maharashtra/Goa, a Marathi channel.)
Note: Channel names in italics denote upcoming channels, including NDTV ones, which are in bold italics.
|Hindi national||NDTV India|
|Zee News, Zee Hindustan (HD|
upcoming for both)
|News18 India||ABP News||TV9 Bharatvarsh||India News||Times Now|
|Aaj Tak (HD), Good News Today, Aaj Tak 2 (digital-only)||Republic Bharat|
|English national||NDTV 24×7 (HD upcoming)||WION (HD|
|CNN-News18||News9||NewsX ||Times Now|
(HD: Times Now World)
|India Today||Republic TV|
|Hindi business||Zee Business||CNBC Awaaz||ET Now Swadesh|
|English business||NDTV Profit/|
to NDTV BQ Prime)
(HD: CNBC-TV18 Prime HD)
|ET Now||Business Today TV (digital-only)|
|Zee UP/UK||News18 UP/UK||ABP Ganga||India News UP/UK|
|NDTV MP/CG (upcoming)||Zee MP/CG||News18 MP/CG||India News MP/CG|
|Zee BR/JH||News18 BR/JH||India News BR/JH|
|Rajasthan||NDTV RJ (upcoming)||Zee RJ||News18 RJ||India News RJ|
|Punjab/Haryana||• Zee Punjab/HR/HP|
• Zee Delhi NCR Haryana
|News18 PB/HR||ABP Sanjha||• India News PB/Himachal|
• India News Haryana
|• Zee Salaam (Urdu/Hindi)|
• Kesar TV J&K/Ladakh
|Maharashtra||NDTV Marathi (upcoming)||Zee 24 Taas||News18 Lokmat||ABP Majha||TV9 Marathi|
|Gujarat||NDTV Gujarati (upcoming)||Zee 24 Kalak||• News18 Gujarati|
• CNBC Bajar (business)
|ABP Asmita||TV9 Gujarati||India News Gujarat|
|West Bengal||NDTV Bangla (upcoming)||Zee 24 Ghanta||News18 Bangla||ABP Ananda||TV9 Bangla||India News Bangla||Republic Bangla|
|Odisha||Zee Odisha News (digital-only)||News18 Odia|
|Assam/Northeast||Zee 24 Ghanta Assam/NE (upcoming)||News18 Assam/NE|
|Karnataka||NDTV Kannada (upcoming)||Zee Kannada News (originally digital-only, now also satellite)||News18 Kannada||TV9 Kannada|
|Telangana/Andhra Pradesh||NDTV Telugu (upcoming)||Zee Telugu News (digital-only; satellite upcoming)||ABP Desam (digital-platform)||TV9 Telugu|
|Tamil Nadu||NDTV Tamil (upcoming)||Zee Tamil News (digital-only)||News18 Tamil Nadu||ABP Nadu (digital-platform)||TV9 Tamil (upcoming)|
|Kerala||NDTV Malayalam (upcoming)||Zee Malayalam News (digital-only)||News18 Kerala|
|Total||14 (currently 3)||20 (incl. 3 digital-only) + 5 upcoming||20||6 (+ 2 digital platforms)||7||10||6||6 (incl. 2 digital-only)||3|
Clearly, this push to launch multiple regional news channels is a bold and daring move from NDTV to announce that it is finally ready to shed its metro-centric image and venture deep into the length and breadth of the country with dedicated channels. Equally importantly, the launch of HD feeds for its two most important channels is a sign that it is finally willing to adapt to the latest TV broadcast standards in the 2020s, and some rivals like ZMCL have already been planning new HD channels — which means that the likes of News18, ABP and TV9 will have to follow suit sooner or later with HD channels. Finally, the renaming of NDTV Profit/Prime to NDTV BQ Prime signifies Adani’s commitment to bring together three reputed brands — NDTV, Quintillion Media (which runs the popular The Quint news website) and Bloomberg — and create a strong competitor to CNBC-TV18 and ET Now in the Indian business news space. One can expect Adani to expand the NDTV brand even further in the future, which will cement the broadcaster’s reputation as not only the most pioneering but also the most widespread news company in the country.
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