News platform Firstpost's video content has seen a staggering 1000 percent growth in the past six months, from 11 million views in January 2023 to over 140 million views in August, coinciding with the launch of the platform's flagship show Vantage. The show, hosted by managing editor Palki Sharma, has captivated global audiences with its compelling content.
The platform’s focus has been on creating value for time, credibility and accuracy.
In an interview with Storyboard18, Sharma talks about the platform's success story, their content plan, and more. Edited excerpts.
What key strategies do you believe have contributed most to Firstpost's success in the highly competitive digital media landscape?
We have what no one else is bringing to this market. We're giving updates, we're giving analysis backed by research, supported by numbers, and a unique perspective on events that are shaping our world. So the content strategy is the winner, clearly. The second, I think, is also the credibility. We have a relationship with the viewer, and we are building on it. And it has been validated in the numbers that we see. So I think in an era where there is a glut of content, both news and otherwise, people are looking for sources that they think are credible and for voices and inputs that they believe they can rely on. So that's what we bring to the table. The third thing I would say is that we give our viewers value for time; we're not wasting your time. If something can be said in five minutes, we're not stretching it to 50. In a very fast-paced world where you have limited bandwidth, if you really want to know what's happening across the world in a short span of time, then this is the platform for you.
How do you measure the success of the platform?
I think the sheer numbers are very encouraging, both for me and the team. It's a very young team, and we started the flagship show Vantage only towards the end of January. Last month in July, we clocked 122 million views. We have now crossed 140 million. These are organic, pure numbers. There is no agency extrapolating it. These are numbers that we see and this is validation of the work that we do. So the trajectory itself is very, very inspiring. From less than 200,000 subscribers when we began to cross 2 million now, it's been fantastic. We're still building the team, and we're still adding to our content mix so that the entire experience of moving completely to digital streaming news, trying to figure out the new dynamics of how news is distributed, how it is consumed, and seeing success has been very, very encouraging.
In an era of misinformation, how does Firstpost ensure there is accuracy maintained at all times?
Accuracy is something that we put a premium on, and we try to double-check the information that we have. We have a solid research team, and where we do not have control ourselves, we attribute it. So we are having a very honest conversation with our viewer that this is what we can confirm, and this is what we don't know but you should be aware of because it has been talked about.
What makes Firstpost stand out from other digital content offerings?
In about 10 days from now, India is set to host the G20 Summit. We are a very credible and major player on the world stage. I think Firstpost provides a platform for the Indian perspective on global affairs, and that's what we aspire to be recognised for above all else. We take pride in having a voice and being unafraid to address issues that impact individuals worldwide.
Additionally, our approach is research-driven, with a commitment to accuracy. We recognise the importance of speed, but we always strive to strike a balance between timeliness and precision.
“We started the flagship show Vantage at the end of January. In July, we clocked 122 million views. We have now crossed 140 million. These are organic, pure numbers. The trajectory itself is inspiring. From less than 200,000 subscribers when we began to cross 2 million now. It's been fantastic.”
What strategies do you have in mind to further amplify the growth of your content and engagement with your audience?
We are expanding our offerings, and I think we are entering a very exciting phase, especially in the realm of sports. We've witnessed some remarkable victories in the past week, with (R) Praggnanandhaa excelling in chess and (javelin throw champion) Neeraj Chopra performing exceptionally well at the Zurich Diamond League (track and field event). Not just that, cricket will also take the spotlight in the coming months with the World Cup and more. Therefore, we're launching a sports show and will be introducing more variety to our content mix.
However, the core essence remains unchanged—no matter where in the world you're watching us from, it adds value to your understanding of the world. This product continues to cater to cosmopolitan individuals, true global citizens, assisting you in being prepared for wherever you want to go and whatever you want to achieve in your endeavours.
Shifting gears a bit, could you tell us about your plans for the upcoming election year?
The elections are often called the dance of democracy. It's a very complex yet incredibly exciting period for any journalist. I believe we have a role to play in helping the world comprehend the intricacies of Indian electoral politics and how the choices made by Indian voters shape the country's future.
For instance, there have been recent research surveys that indicate an overwhelming number of Indians feel confident about how the world perceives them and their role on the global stage. Public perception matters, especially in a country as vast as ours. When people vote and make their voices heard, it's important for the world to understand the reasons behind those choices. So, while we cater to the Indian audience, we also aim to assist the global audience in making sense of the Indian elections.
Disclosure: Firstpost is a part of the Network18 group, which includes Storyboard18. Network18 is controlled by Independent Media Trust, of which Reliance Industries is the sole beneficiary.