On July 31, Colors Infinity completed its first year in English entertainment space and brought with itself new propositions including Essential Viewing, Instant Premieres, Live Binge, Infinity-On-Demand and local homegrown content. Starting with 8 international premieres and 8 advertisers on board, the channel reached out to 200 million with 60% viewership coming from tier-2 markets.
Ferzad Palia, Head, English and Youth Entertainment, Viacom18 said on the occasion, “With differentiated marketing, binge-watching and slew of brand new shows we shook the category from its slumber. We stayed committed to our vision of expanding the viewership base of English entertainment in general and increase the market share of Viacom18’s English cluster. With 60% of the channel’s viewership coming in from the non-metro market and our English cluster commanding 53% market share in the genre, we are well on track to realise our vision.”
Significant growth in ad sales
This one year turned out to be a buoyant one for the channel with over 100 advertisers on board across automobiles, e-commerce, FMCG and electronics. Palia shared, “Advertisers are happy with our progress. We are seeing a significant growth in ad sales and are trending ahead of competitors who have been around for over 20 years. We have seen an encouraging quarterly advertising growth of approximately 30%, in terms of the number of advertisers coming on board. This in turn has helped us capitalise on our effective rate as well.”
On that front, he assured that they sell at a premium rate, “We are significantly at a premium to most of our competitors because of the quality of offering and market acknowledges. People are willing to pay price and that’s a big step forward.”
The channel is currently at the fifth position for the week 29 (July 16-22). But this doesn’t seem to bother Palia. He explained, “In this genre, there are advertisers who don’t buy us based on ratings. If revenue has to come in the order of ratings showed up, you would have different channels being leaders. You will continuously see Star World and our ratings at the bottom because of the premium content quality that we play. Any other market study will show you that they and we are the two most watched channels along with Comedy Central. Advertisers don’t buy us based on ratings. They are buying for the shows that they know people are watching.”
According to Palia, the issue lies with monitoring this relevant kind of audience. “It’s a separate kind of audience which is not seen in the other parts of the world. Now the core audience that’s consuming this content doesn’t want a meter in their house. That’s the biggest barrier. We have 250 million people speaking English. So in this case the measurement is a challenge.
Palia talked about the challenges faced in the first year, “The biggest challenge we have faced is seeding the product and getting people to sample it. The category hasn’t been sampled a lot largely due to issues related to distribution. But in the second phase of digitisation, we saw growth in 1 million plus market. Now you are going to see that further beyond.”
“The other challenge that we overcame pretty quickly was differentiation. Colors Infinity was launched 20 years after the first English channel. According to the research done 6-7 months back, we are among the top 2 channels that get recalled,” he added.
What worked on content
The content strategy revolves around differentiated local content, Infinity on Demand, instant premieres and essential viewing. He shared, “Also this year we plan to increase our focus on local English content as well as bring in the latest seasons of our popular shows. We also have a differentiated primetime strategy where we play shows like ‘Grim’ and ‘Royals’ at 10pm.” Having said that, the channel has started taking entries for the Season 2 of ‘The Stage.’
He mentioned the popularity of their latest property Infinity on Demand, “Infinity on Demand in few weeks got over three lakh votes of people choosing what they want to watch and we give it to them in a binge format (where they watch the entire season in two days). This is clearly working.”
Their recently concluded reality show ‘Shark Tank’ where entrepreneurs pitch their business models to a panel of investors to invest money in their idea, was a success according to Palia. “‘Shark Tank’ has shaken up everyone. It was a risk to put a show like that. I know 9-year-olds who are watching the show. Now it has brought family together at 9pm. We keep pushing the boundaries of differentiation.”
Ahead of the competition
Palia is unfazed by the competition, “We have disrupted a lot of things in the genre. Post our launch we have seen a lot of channels refresh themselves and adding more genres. In all honesty, I feel competition is working around us. When we launched, we worked on how to differentiate and disrupt. In some sense, we have set the benchmark. Now with ‘The Stage’ being so successful we know that local competitors are eyeing local production because they have seen it work.”