In recent months, his media-buying costs had been skyrocketing by 50 percent or more, he said, although he was unable to pinpoint why those costs were going up. The majority of that advertising is on television, he said.
"So we're going to end up with a television system and our plan is to cover at least half of the United States," Bhargava said. "And then we have a way to not only advertise our product, but maybe to barter some of the advertising with some of the other outfits. … And this (NewsNet) kind of pays for most everything, which I kind of like."
Ad spends in general are on the rise. U.S. media spending is forecast to hit $320 billion this year, a 12.2 percent increase, according to a Magna forecast.
David DeMuth, the chair and CEO of Southfield-based advertising firm Doner Co., said it's difficult to say whether Bhargava's strategy will work. That's especially true as advertising has become more fragmented, he said.
"I think for advertisers, you really have to understand your audience and follow them and find them more efficient placement now, and those opportunities are out there," DeMuth told Crain's. "But media has become a much more data-driven endeavor than ever before. For (Bhargava) to buy a media platform and advertise 5-Hour Energy on it, like, I don't know if that's gonna get return on investment on that or not. It depends who's watching that media."
From a content perspective, Bhargava said they've chosen a simple motto to follow for the network: "News … like it used to be."
The style of the programming is based on Headline News, now called HLN, a CNN-owned news network that primarily focuses on delivering straightforward news programming on a variety of topics. For example, news segments this week focused on various health care issues, primary elections in Pennsylvania and national weather forecasts.
"There's so much of the opinionated media out there, left and right," said Phil Hendrix, NewsNet's news director. "We're really just committed to trying to do journalism the way it used to be done."