Infotainment channels have been a niche genre on Indian television. According to TAM Telepedia (a joint initiative between exchange4media and TAM that gives a weekly synopsis of viewership patterns across TV platforms) week 30 to week 34 (July 20 – August 23, 2014) saw the infotainment genre at 1.2 per cent market share, with nether gains nor losses from last week to this week. Though this may be a small market share, the genre commands a much larger viewership share than other genres like English Movies (0.7 per cent), English News (0.1 per cent), Hindi Business News (0.1 per cent), English GECs (0.2 per cent), Telugu Movies (1 per cent) and Lifestyle (0.2 per cent).
In the context of the recent boom in the number of infotainment channels, we wanted to know whether it has fragmented the genre or helped it grow.
Channels of growth
According to Tarun Nigam, Director, PM Media Solutions, the market share for infotainment channels in India has grown by 7 per cent.
Sangeetha Aiyer, VP & Head, Marketing, A+E Networks (History TV18), puts the growth even higher.
“Since our launch in 2011, the genre has grown by about 27 per cent. It is worth noting that this growth is not a result of cannibalising within the genre; we have brought in new viewers based on fresh content that did not exist in the Indian television space before,” Aiyar says.
Market leader National Geographic Channel (NGC) also vouches for the genre's strong growth, despite the slew of launches.
“This speaks volumes of the continued relevance of this genre for the Indian viewer. The growing Nat Geo viewer base now cuts across Target Groups [TGs], markets and genders and this has been a major contributor to the growth of infotainment overall,” says Swati Mohan, VP, Programming & Content, National Geographic & Fox International Channels.
The TAM universe only counts any infotainment channels’ English feeds, and not the ratings of the other language feeds like Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Bengali. Almost all infotainment channels are available in these five languages. If the ratings agency was to incorporate this into the calculation, it would definitely be much more than what it is now.
The winning strategy
While some infotainment channels prefer to concentrate on building content, others have decided to make themselves available to audiences on second and third screens.
Nat Geo, for example, has focused on variety of content for viewers.
“The classic franchises like Banged Up Abroad, Air Crash Investigation and the blue chip wildlife shows continue to attract the all-time Nat Geo fan. The new brand of brain entertainment through shows like Brain Games, Do or Die and Science of Stupid, through their approach of fun learning, have managed to increase the existing fan base, as well as bring newer, younger audiences to the channel,” says Mohan.
History TV18 chooses to be at the fore of the digital front.
“Our channel has been at the forefront of digital and social media since its launch. In order to remain relevant to the way audiences consume content and stay ahead of competition, History TV18 launched the first second-screen app in the factual entertainment genre. Viewers can see their chats live on TV via a ticker, taking viewer engagement to the next level, and allowing them to connect with all other fans watching the same show in real time,” says Aiyer.
Brands eye targeted reach
Brands mostly see these channels as a way of reaching niche audiences.
“While you have GEC for masses, these channels target the niche. There is viewership for them. But they address a particular group of people who are interested in that kind of infotainment content. So there is a market for it. Typically, premium, evolved brands are the ones which look at those kinds of channels,” says Mayank Shah, Deputy Marketing Manager, Parle Products.
Amit Tiwari, Director, Country Head, Media, Philips India, feels it all depends on the TG.
“Yes it is a niche genre, but there is very high affinity index; people who actually view those channels on a regular basis. So it depends upon the portfolio of the product and the brand that you need to look at, and then you can actually see the impact it makes on your particular media plan,” Tiwari feels.
Perhaps it is safe to say that though infotainment channels are growing, they are still considered niche. So while there is a long way to go before brands can consider them as the way to reach a large audience, infotainment channels definitely help brands looking for targeted reach.