Hindi general entertainment channels have forever dominated the broadcast space and occupied a prominent share of the viewership and revenue pie since their early days. Comparatively, lifestyle and Bollywood channels have been considered niche, owing to their limited target audience group, viewership numbers, etc. But since the last few years, there has been a growing interest in such channels. exchange4media attempts to decode what makes this genre of channels big business on television...
The increasing market size
Though lifestyle is a relatively new genre in India, it has the unique ability to be broad-based in the way the content interests, touches and resonates with people across social strata and age segments, while fulfilling a niche set of needs. According to a KPMG report, lifestyle and infotainment genre, like the English GEC genre, commands an advertisement share disproportionate to its viewership share. Increasing competition in the genre indicates that more broadcasters are eyeing the Rs 3.4 billion infotainment market.
It has also been observed that the while the lifestyle and infotainment genre grew by 12 per cent in 2012 and 45 per cent on 2011, the Hindi GEC space observed a de-growth of around two per cent in 2012.
Also, sub-genres within niche genres is a growing trend, and the genre has seen several channels over the last two to three years focussed on interests as diverse as history, adventure, travel, cooking, etc.
The digitisation effect
Commenting on the post digitisation scenario, Smeeta Chakrabarti, CEO, NDTV Lifestyle stated, “There has been a fair amount of volatility in the genre at the macro level, and as predicted earlier, we have seen consolidation taking place in the wake of digitization, on the back of clear and unique positioning of each player. While the exact extent and degree of the impact remains to be seen as digitisation rolls out, we are confident that this is a step forward in the right direction.”
Voicing similar views, Debarpita Banerjee, VP, Marketing, Fox International Channels stated that digitisation has given the entire genre a big boost in terms of the viewership and market share. There has been more sampling of the channel, and an increase in market share. Though the advertising revenue hasn’t been impacted immediately by digitisation, the growing viewership would only result in higher revenues down the road.
Localised content strategy and innovative brand extensions
It has been observed that players in this genre are looking at localisation of content to appeal to its target viewers and reach out to the untapped markets. According to the KPMG report, Indian content accounts for 35 per cent of programming on Fox Traveller and 20 per cent of programming on NGC. Other channels are also looking at a mix of both, international and local content.
Commenting on the same, Indrajit Ray, Executive Director, Content, Disney UTV Media Networks stated, “Our strategy has been to provide a healthy mix of content, including home grown non-fiction reality content, chat shows, news and music and all of these, especially our original content, has resonated very well with the audiences.”
Similarly, Fox International channels maintain a healthy mix between best of international content and fresh local formats. Also, according to Banerjee, their strategy of creating more monetising opportunities for clients on the channel through four major tentpoles, mini tentpoles and monthly stunts last year saw their ad sales revenue grow by 30 per cent in FY 13.
Talking about the importance of marketing campaigns, Chakrabarti stated, “For our genre, we believe targeted marketing is more effective instead of mass, across-the-board bombardment. In addition, we also proactively engage in B2B marketing. The idea is to create an innovative and experiential connect with the viewer, for we see them as brand evangelists above everything else.”
Increased advertising opportunities
Given the increasing appeal of the lifestyle genre, the genre is witnessing a widening of the advertiser categories and a deepening of the spend. According to Banerjee, the genre offers captive viewers who like the good life. Going by demographics and psychographics, this genre also offers all up-market brands and their marketers a great platform to showcase their products.”
Elaborating on the significance of marrying brand proposition with the show concept, Chakrabarti stated, “Instead of selling merely on numbers, we emphasise on the quality of audience delivered. ‘Wastage’ (i.e. a marketing message reaching a non-intended viewer) is much lower in a channel such as NDTV Good Times. Our innovative brand integrations have led to a win-win situation for the advertiser and the viewer.”
The KPMG report also says that while spends from traditional advertisers have been under pressure, varied programming is bringing in more international advertisers such as tourism boards promoting international destinations, and ready-to-eat food companies, as infotainment channels focussed on sub-genres help them reach a targeted audience.
On similar lines, Ray stated, “While the free commercial time is hygiene for any channel, we do have varied advertisement options and there is scope for possibilities to integrate the brands in the content through product placement. Brand integrations are ideal as they capture audience without the numerous commercial breaks and give perceptional value to the viewer.”
Ray also believes that Advertiser Funded Programmes (AFPs) is something that channels have delivered on successfully with shows such as Lux The Chosen One. While it is a great proposition for both, the channel and the brand, AFPs are undertaken only if they have a strong connect with the audiences and a great concept. Urban skewed brands participate but would get more and more mass with better penetration.
Space for more…
With viewers becoming more discerning about what they watch, niche channels will take on increasing importance in the Indian context. According to Chakrabarti, the trend is already evident with the new wave of niche channels entering the market. Elaborating on the same, Ray stated, “There is always space for more and better. Today Bollywood content is consumed in many ways, across print, digital, print, radio and channels. Usually most of the content available is only in news format. Through the insights we gained, there was a need for differentiated content on Bollywood and we being the insiders of Bollywood have tried to bridge the gap between Bollywood and their fans.”
Banerjee also believes that since this is a fairly new genre, when compared to a few others, it is far from saturation and hence will present scope for more. However, it is also depends on what else can that channel offer over and above what is already available for the viewers today. Last but not the least, it is imperative to have a clearly defined differentiator in terms of content and positioning, lest it becomes a ‘me-too’.