<b>Ajay Chacko</b>, President, A+E Networks | TV18 JV
Our ambition and mission is to broad base the genre and ensure that every young Indian is tuning in to our channel. We look forward to having History leading and growing the genre progressively into an alternative to mainstream general entertainment channels. This is the general trend world over: factual entertainment channels actually compete with regular mainstream entertaining channels and we expect that to happen here as well.
Our ambition and mission is to broad base the genre and ensure that every young Indian is tuning in to our channel. We look forward to having History leading and growing the genre progressively into an alternative to mainstream general entertainment channels. This is the general trend world over: factual entertainment channels actually compete with regular mainstream entertaining channels and we expect that to happen here as well.Ajay Chacko is President A+E Networks | TV18, the JV between A+E Networks and TV18. In this role, he is responsible for the day-to-day operational, strategic and financial management of the joint venture and its suite of channels and services.
With a career spanning over 15 years, Chacko has rich experience across a variety of roles in sales, marketing and general management within the media and entertainment and services industry. During his tenure at Network18 over the past seven years, he has served as Director of TV18 Business Media & Chief Operating Officer - New Media Projects for TV18 and CEO, Forbes India. He has been responsible for the P&L, new products and revenue lines on CNBC-TV18 & CNBC Awaaz since the year 2004.
As CEO of Forbes India, he launched the Forbes brand in the country. He was responsible for the Forbes brand and the P&L of Digital18 Media Ltd, the publisher of Forbes India, an affiliate of Network18 Group.
Chacko’s earlier stints were with IL&FS (Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services, India), one of the country’s largest financial institutions, and he has also been part of the startup team at Sharekhan, the country’s pioneering online trading platform. He started his career with the Indian Express Group, where he worked in different capacities across distribution, research, sales and product management.
In an email interaction with exchange4media’s Suraj Ramnath, Chacko speaks at length about History’s growth path in India, growing the factual entertainment genre in the country, content strategy and more… Q. How is the factual entertainment genre performing in India? Where do you see it headed in 2012?
Q. After the initial campaign are you planning to come up with any new ads featuring Salman Khan?
Q. How is History breaking through the perception that it is only about the past?
Through months of extensive research and testing of content, the channel has found that Indian viewers across demographics are interested in experimenting with alternative forms of content, as long as the entertainment quotient is not compromised upon. The channel has been launched with universal themes that use the premise of history, but are entertaining, engaging and thrilling and would appeal to a very wide audience, including younger demographics and also discerning audiences. We will also, very shortly, announce a few big-ticket local productions that match international scale.
Q. Any other tie-ups that History channel has lined up?
Q. How has the response to the channel been? How has the channel been able to touch a chord with the viewers?
History continues to garner the highest time spent per viewer with 40 minutes vis-à-vis Discovery (29 minutes) and National Geographic (16 minutes). It has maintained a significant lead since its launch, which is an indication of differentiated programming and the stickiness quotient of its content.
With a connectivity of 50 million households across leading cable TV platforms such as Hathway Cable, In Cable, DEN Networks and leading DTH platforms such as Tata Sky, Dish TV and Airtel, History reaches out to over 40 million viewers across India since its launch.
Q. How have you created differentiation for History vis-à-vis channels like National Geographic, Discovery, even Animal Planet?
Q. We are staring at another economic slowdown. How does it affect your expansion plans?
Q. Going forward, how do you see History sustaining the viewership?
Q. What have been the main challenges in drawing eyeballs to a channel like History?
Q. What has been the focus of the marketing plans for History? What have been the marketing spends like? Also History has recently tied up with CBSE for conservation of Indian monuments. Please tell us more about this tie-up?
As a channel, we’ve always laid stress on innovation more than anything else. That DNA of innovation is being replicated everywhere, including every marketing exercise we undertake. For instance, we now have a comprehensive partnership in place with CBSC and its 10,000 schools on exciting on-ground events, activities and quizzes. History is also reaching out to every possible audience with access to a screen – be it a TV screen, a computer screen or a mobile phone. The channel has forayed on the mobile platform and is now available across major operators on live streaming and video on demand. On social media, History already has more fans than most of our competition. We have a healthy social media community where every show generates interesting conversation currency on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter a week before its launch.
Our marketing spend is in the range of around Rs 12-15 crore for the year, but that’s largely because this has been a launch year. Going forward, we will be looking at creating innovative clutter breaking marketing concepts, along with exploiting synergies with our sister channels.
Q. How is your content strategy shaping up? Going forward, what would be the focus areas for History's content?
Soon, we will also be announcing a few big-ticket local productions that match international scale.
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