With digitisation gaining more mileage in India, there is a shift observed in viewership trends. Audiences are now getting to sample more channels, and on the other hand, broadcast players are likely to see a reduction in carriage fees in the near future. This has given an opportunity to more and more specialised channels to come into play.
Shagun TV, a 24-hour matrimony channel; Zee Khana Khazana, a channel dedicated to 24-hour culinary preparations; Epic TV, a channel based on epic and mythological series, etc. are some examples of specialised channels. Additionally, major networks have plans to launch their own specialised channels soon.
Experts state that even though every new channel now claims to be specialised and different, the final differentiation lies in the kind of content it serves. Yaresh Kothwani, a Senior Media Analyst shared, “The ‘differentiation claims’ which channels make are only tactics to sell. But are they actually specialised depends upon the kind of full day content they show. A channel showing comedy, drama and thriller shows cannot claim to be a comedy channel with a ‘difference’. It becomes a general entertainment channel.”
Zee Khana Khazana for example is a 24-hour food channel. The channel, launched in December 2010, is an extension of the premiere food show of Zee TV called Zee Khana Khazana.
Amit Nair, Business Head, Zee Khana Khazana said, “The channel was meant for the digital market. The year 2011-12 was the time when digitisation started and that is when we thought we needed to look at our content in this regard. We did a research with Neilson and our findings on the parameters of consumer behaviour, aspirations evolution in habits of food, etc. helped us shape this channel. We saw a huge gap in terms of understanding of food by people. We, with our backed research and in-depth understanding of the field today, aim to become an aide in making everyday food interesting.”
Shagun TV, a 24-hour matrimony channel is the first of its kind in India. The channel airs end-t- end marriage programmes such as Honeymoon Travels, Shaadi Byah Nikaah, etc. Anuranjan Jha, Managing Director, Shagun TV shared, “The wedding industry in itself is a very big business sector now. One has wedding planners, wedding caterers, etc., the market therefore is huge. We launched our channel in April 2013. About 15 per cent of our content comes through match-making. We show five to six hours of programming daily and therefore come in the category of a very niche GEC.”
Epic TV, a channel backed by corporate big wigs like Anand Mahindra, is based on epic and mythology shows. The channel will be betting on digitisation, which is expected to make subscription transparent and enhance the pay TV market in India. The pay TV industry is expected to be over $14.4 billion by 2016, of which about 31 per cent will be advertising and the rest is expected to come in from subscription, as per market reports.
Specialisation will determine success
Experts we spoke to state that specialisation will play a key role in a channel’s success in the future. Nimit Pandiya, Media Lawyer and Analyst said, “Broadcasters are realising the importance of specialisation, especially after digitisation. Content will steadily evolve as people will get to sample more content and eventually, this will push channels to go beyond natural conventions of serving content. Not only the quality of programming would improve, but also the way the content is served will change.”
There has been a spurt of launches from major networks. While Times Group launched Romedy Now, a channel based on comedy and love, Star Group launched Star Premiere HD, which simulcast shows from America. Zee Group launched ZEE Anmol, a new GEC.
How will this impact the channel market?
“We have given a complete new looked to our sets. We chose our chefs very carefully on the basis of insights we took from our consumer research. We focused more on the metros as that is where our core TG comes from. Specialisation is really going to work in the coming days. It will hugely matter how the content is served in this context,” said Amit Nair of Zee Khana Khazana.
Specialised channels will improvise their marketing initiatives and would take privileged interest in serving their target group, further said Nair. This will not only fragment the market but would also highlight the needs of different classes. It would come handy to advertisers as the target group will be clearly demarcated.
This would add to the market value of such channels and they would be in a position to command a premium in advertising.
Specialised channels are aiming to customise content for their audiences with a clever mix.
Although the number of such channels is likely to grow in times to come, it would depend upon how the networks are able to capitalise on the sentiment, which will give the consumer far more options. Content and positioning would hugely matter in the future, say marketers.