Big-CBS Prime is gearing to launch its Hindi feed, which will serve quality international programmes dubbed in Hindi. The channel will specifically target male audience in the metros and Hindi speaking markets.
Anand Chakravarthy, Business Head, Big CBS Networks shares with exchange4media Big-CBS Prime’s plans to widen the scope of its programming to include the male audience, importance of programming in local languages and breaking through the clutter.
Considering resurgent demographics, volatile audience, and turbulent market, how effective will Big-CBS Prime’s Hindi offering be?
The contemporary market environment is challenging. TV brands need to refortify strategy. On our part, we have been doing the same for the past one quarter and have a kicked up strategy for this year which will allow us to compete in the market. First thing that we have done is to launch a channel in association with CBS-Prime, showcasing international general entertainment programmes dubbed in Hindi. This channel will specifically focus on the Hindi male audience, which is underserved in terms of quality content.
The current trend in the market that we would like to capitalise on is a need for quality international content dubbed in Hindi. This will not only evangelise our presence in the HSM markets, but will also give the male audiences a chance to view international programmes in their local language. Till now, we are the first ones to do so. At present, the genres that are served in this category are news, movies and sports. Prime Hindi feed will offer us unique destination and will help us break barriers in the HSM markets. The audience is far more evolved today and this will satisfy their appetite for quality international entertainment programmes.
The Indian male that you are referring to is a highly sensitive segment – one, who boasts his masculinity, does not like being told what to do and so on. How did you reach the conclusion that this segment is underserved?
There are two aspects. One, if you look at the television consumption pattern, there is hardly any platform that caters to such an audience. Second is the content. Eighty per cent of the content in India is created for women. This is reflected in the viewership patterns.
Third is research. If you speak to the male audience, they will express a need for quality male-oriented programnmes which are absent in the present market scenario. We searched our CBS portfolio and dubbed it in local languages. We did the same on Spark Punjabi last year and got good response in Punjab. This year, we did the same for content in Hindi and again got a good response. This has enhanced our confidence of going ahead with such content offering.
Thus, data tells us that the male audience does not have what it wants to watch as per its taste and preferences. That is why we are offering hardcore male genres such as crime, mystery, action reality, sports and so on.
How will it break the clutter?
Currently there are no channels offering international programmes in Hindi except cartoons, movies (which have now shifted to Bollywood movies due to lack of content), and infotainment channels, which are only infotainment but not entertainment. They can be watched, but do not satisfy the entertainment appetite of the audience. ‘CSI’ is the largest dubbed show in the world and when the Indian audience will get an opportunity to see such programmes in Hindi, they will cherish it.
How will you consolidate your network and reach?
Consolidation will only grow. Currently, the footprint of Prime is only in the seven metros. With DAS Phase II rolling out in the Hindi speaking markets (HSM) or cities with population of 1 million or more, the entry barrier to such markets will be reduced substantially. Our operation cost will also get reduced. Thus, entry barrier which has been a hurdle till now, will be taken care of. We are looking at a minimum 6 to 8 fold increase in reach in the coming times. Just through DAS in metros we have moved from 2.5 million homes to 10 million homes, so the opportunity is huge.
How confident are you that your content will be duly accepted?
We have extensively researched it. We had tested nine to 10 shows and got very good response for most of them. Our core strength is the content quality from CBS and we have a huge supply of such content. Given our experience in Punjab and our own research, we are confident that we will be able to excite the customer.
But crime shows have been launched earlier. All channels claim their research to be good. However, after initial buzz, the ratings and response become stagnant. What is different in you that will help your content stay longer?
You are right. But if you look at the format of a show like ‘CSI’, it is not a mass show. It is very engaging in terms of content and presentation and doesn’t treat crime the way it has been treated by other broadcasters – sensational. To make it interesting, we are planning a lot of interventions in the show.
We have to be different if we have to sustain it for the future. No matter how good the concept is, one has to do something different in order to make it last longer. In 48-hour mystery programmes, we are using real life high profile stories and real investigators. It follows the crime through real people, investigators, victims and their families.
But what works in America might not work in India?
Why not? Look at the infotainment segment. Indian audiences are maturing. They want to watch shows that they have not been exposed to before. That is real entertainment, which is evolving rapidly.
Won’t there be a connection deficit?
Not at all! We want to match our audience aspirations. If we are giving international programmmes for consumption, then it gives a feel to the audience that one is watching global programmes and is improving his way of living and the kind of media he uses. That increases affinity and also reduces the connection deficit, which helps the TV brand to grow in the future.