So far, food shows were seen on genres like travel channels, lifestyle channels and even general entertainment channels. Chefs like Sanjeev Kapoor were acknowledged in India for their cookery shows on Hindi GECs. STAR India’s Master Chef, hosted by Akshay Kumar, is another example of how the big spenders still take the ‘food’ genre seriously. The food-game is now set to go a few notches up as two media groups gear to launch food-specific channels. Is the Indian market ready for such intense specialisation?
Food First & FoodFood
Alva Brothers’ company Real Lifestyle Network is re-entering the television domain with a series of channels, beginning with a food channel called ‘Food First’. Astro All Asia Network is foraying in the Indian broadcasting market with their food channel ‘FoodFood’, which is being launched in association with chef Sanjeev Kapoor. Both channels are slated for an early 2011 launch.
Real Lifestyle is talking of cutting edge content for their channel. Speaking on why begin with a food channel, Manisha Tripathi, Business Head, Real Global Broadcasting, explained, “Food is universal in appeal and is increasingly becoming an expression of one’s lifestyle, therefore, the first launch, Food First is dedicated to food. This would be our first offering to the viewers in the coming year, and we are planning a robust 360-degree activation to support the channel launch.”
A 360 degree approach per se is what Astro and Sanjeev Kapoor promise as well. According to company officials, FoodFood would be available across TV, mobile, web – a 360 degree focus on the world of food. It will feature Hinglish content that would be “relevant to the Indian audience”. FoodFood will feature shows about food and food lifestyle like ‘Sanjeev Kapoor’s Kitchen’, ‘Firangi Tadka’, ‘Sirf 30 Minute’ and ‘Ready Steady Cook’.
Raghvendra Madhav, Executive Director of India and South Asia for Media, Astro Group, said, “Food is the new entertainment. Over recent times, content has started to reflect this with food playing a central role in game shows, reality shows, travel and lifestyle shows and instructional shows where viewers learn to cook or hone their culinary skills, or just vicariously experience new cultures and cuisines. Capitalising on this development, we are launching FoodFood - 360 degrees of food available across multimedia platforms like TV, web, mobile.”
FoodFood’s core target is the middle class Indian in urban towns and cities, while Food First is eyeing the upper SEC.
Where there is good content, there is a market
Harish Shriyan, Managing Partner, OMD India, is optimistic on the launch of newer kinds of channels. Speaking to exchange4media on food channels specifically, he said, “Look at the present market scenario. We don’t have any food specific channels. Any media group that launches a food channel will enjoy first mover advantage, and if they have the content right, that means that the channel would be reaching the right audience. This is the kind of experiment that is needed right now.”
Media observers believe that a food channel would provide a great opportunity for branded content, an exercise that most advertisers, agencies and media owners have experimented with in the last few years, but very few seem to get it right. Elaborating on whether a food-specific channel would provide for a good opportunity for branded content, Rajneesh Chaturvedi, National Director, MEC Access, said, “Look at the evolution of advertiser-funded programming (AFP). At one point, we would see FMCG brands and telecom brands attempting AFP, but today we did a show that was only for LG microwaves with the intention of showcasing that microwaves are not just for heating food. And the content association has delivered for LG.”
But in a market where ratings rule all, how does one judge the performance of something as niche as a food channel? Chaturvedi explained, “This is not the kind of a channel one would judge by ratings. In international markets, the subscription driven models are already in place and in India, we are headed in that direction too.”
While Shriyan is convinced that a subject like food would have an audience seeking that content, Chaturvedi is quick to point that the cost of such a channel would not be alarmingly high as well, which would mean that it could be an effective option. For now, food has the thumbs up from the media service brands fraternity. And whether the channels have, in fact, got the content right, one would know soon enough.