"It would definitely be a consideration [for ad buys] going forward," said Simon Fry, brand adviser for FedEx Corp.'s EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region, which encompasses India. FedEx currently buys ad space on local news networks throughout India, focusing on the Mumbai (formerly Bombay) and New Dehli markets. The company is one of the top 10 cable advertisers in the U.S., spending more than $18 million on cable programming in 2004, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
"We could use [the network] to build awareness about our brand to senior executives because CNN will clearly target the upper echelon in business," Fry said. "[The network] could add a sling to our bow, for sure."
Network expands footprint
CNN, the cable network owned by Time Warner, has paired with a local partner, Global Broadcast News, to create a co-branded, 24-hour, English-language news channel called CNN-IBN. The new network will extend CNN's existing footprint in India well beyond the 10 million homes the network currently reaches via CNN International (CNNI), according to Nigel Pritchard, a spokesman for CNNI. More specific distribution numbers are not yet available.
With headquarters in New Dehli, CNN-IBN will be supported by more than 20 bureaus throughout India. All of the editorial will be produced locally for CNN-IBN, which will also have access to CNN news feeds from throughout the world.
Advertising for the network will be sold on a local basis.
U.S.-based companies that want to target India-based companies have the option to sell their ads through various entry points in the CNN global network, Pritchard said. "We have an awful lot of avenues [for advertisers]," he said. "We work across different platforms with other Time Warner brands and, with IBN now being part of the family, we'll help to facilitate ad packages as needed."
There's little wonder about the appeal of India, the world's largest democracy, to global marketers. The country has nearly 1 billion people, a large middle-class and a strong focus on education.
United Parcel Service of America sees India as a major growth engine, said company spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg. "It's a bit premature to consider the buy [for CNN-IBN], but down the road we would consider it as part of our media strategy," she said. "We're focused on building infrastructure in Asia and broadening our presence there."
For years, UPS has purchased ad space on CNN's pan-Asian schedule, in which UPS spots are beamed throughout the region. In late November, the company opened a UPS Store in Mumbai, its first outside North America. The store, which operates through a licensing agreement, offers a complete menu of shipping, packaging and other business services.
Others seeking global expansion
CNN is just one of several media outlets expanding its presence in India. International Data Group in November launched two monthly publications in India: Real CIO World (10,000 circulation) targets chief information officers and other IT executives, and Services OutSourcing World, (20,000 circulation), which provides information and business intelligence to purchasers of outsourced information technology. Last year, Dow Jones & Co. struck a deal with the publisher of the Times of India to distribute a regional edition of The Wall Street Journal in India. Dow Jones owns a 26% stake in the venture, in keeping with the limits set by India's rules on foreign ownership of media assets.
"Most of our clients are interested in China, but there's a migration in terms of exploring marketing opportunities in India," said Carl Anderson, president-CEO of ad agency Doremus, whose clients include AutoDesk Inc., ITT Industries and United Technologies Corp. "But if something like CNN has a property focused on the country, after it gets off the ground it should have a lot more interest."
Although CNN is expanding its international presence, the cable network continues to struggle at home against rival Fox News Channel. Through early December, Fox News averaged a total of 966,000 viewers while CNN averaged a total of 521,000 viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.