News is going local and customarily digital. And setting the toughest benchmarks for the digital news platform in India is Asianet's online platform for Kannada-Suvarnanews.tv. Recording a phenomenal 20X year-on-year growth, the channel has proved that vernacular news has a great potential in the field of online news. In fact, as the language with the third highest online readership, after Tamil and Hindi, Kannada promises a significant growth opportunity in the field of digital media.

Since its inception early last year, Asianet News Network has come a long way in strategising its digital platform in an organised manner. It has primarily focussed on consolidating its dominant market leadership with focussed digital media penetration in Kerala with asianetnews.tv and in Karnataka with suvarnanews.tv. It has recently ventured into digital English news with the inception of newsable.com. Incidentally, all the three channels focus on expanding their scope of digital content through millennial-centric hyperlocal video content. 

It is to be noted that while it strengthens all its digital media platforms, including the newly introduced Telugu platform- telugu.asianetnews.tv, it also looks forward to establishing a strong foothold in Tamil with an upcoming acquisition.

Clearly, Asianet is following the growth path in vernacular news, as suggested in a recent KPMG-Google report. Titled “Indian Languages – Defining India’s Internet”, the report charts out the potential of vernacular news online and details out the growth momentum in the Indian language Internet user base. While CAGR in English is expected to be 3% til 2021, Indian language portals are expected to clock a healthy CAGR of 18% in the same time. The report also explains how Tamil, Kannada and Telugu will form the most engaging vernacular platforms online. In fact, 33% of internet users access the vernacular news platforms, almost outnumbering those who are engaged even in digital payments. Thus, making vernacular news a top rider in the growth process of Digital News. 

“Suvarnanews.tv is a one-stop destination for the Kannadiga which combines the video and text news, and entertainment stories. Suvarna News along with Kannada Prabha, which has a 50-year journalistic legacy, serves its audience with hyperlocal video-led content. This significant growth comes on the strength of a well thought through strategy to integrate both the Broadcast and Print content on Digital and provide enhanced user experience and engagement, " says Anoop N, Chief Operating Officer of Asianet News Network – Digital. He further adds, "As a vernacular-video leader in its category the Asianet News digital network promises to deliver top quality content. With 99% of the Indian language internet users accessing news content on mobile devices, we’re also continuously focused on the platform to be mobile friendly both from a format and engagement perspective."

Ravi Hegde, Editor-In-Chief Kannada Prabha and Suvarna News, could not agree more. He says, "The Digital News opportunity is a significant opportunity that the vernacular market has been relatively slow in capitalizing on. He further elaborates, "With suvarnanews.tv, we are focused on securing a first-mover advantage. Building collaboration between TV and Digital desks along with a deep focus on vernacular video content was at the core of the strategy. With Regional News being the preferred category of digital news, we’ve also sharpened our focus at delivering Karnataka like none other."

Speaking of the importance of both content and video format in paving the growth path of digital media, Amit Gupta, Chief Executive Officer, Asianet News Network says, "Our investments in Digital have been focused on building a media tech asset that dominates with its content and video format, and through this, drive market leadership." Further, highlighting the marketing potential of vernacular media, he says, "It creates another strong platform for brands that work with us to capture and expand their presence and market reach, riding the wave of vernacular digital growth. Contexted with the KPMG-Google report that estimates 82% of Kannadigas having a propensity to respond to an advertisement in the vernacular, it’s no surprise that brands will want to maximize on this opportunity."