Deepak Shourie, Director, BBC Worldwide Channels, South Asia
If you have a product that’s targeted well and the advertising reaches the target, it will do well. The other side to that is that the environment for an upscale channel doesn’t allow mass products and premium products cannot be on a mass channel. India is no longer a cheap market, you have to very careful where you advertise, so when people like Sony, Honda, Tanishq, advertise on our channel, they know what they are getting into, they get an audience they want – it’s an audience that buys these kinds of products.
If you have a product that’s targeted well and the advertising reaches the target, it will do well. The other side to that is that the environment for an upscale channel doesn’t allow mass products and premium products cannot be on a mass channel. India is no longer a cheap market, you have to very careful where you advertise, so when people like Sony, Honda, Tanishq, advertise on our channel, they know what they are getting into, they get an audience they want – it’s an audience that buys these kinds of products.A veteran in the Indian media industry, Deepak Shourie has a rich experience spanning across print and electronic media. After being the Group General Manager at Living Media, the publisher of ‘India Today’, he conceived and launched a competitor weekly news magazine ‘Outlook’. He was then Executive President for The Hindustan Times and CEO at Zee TV.
Prior to joining BBC Worldwide, Shourie was EVP and Managing Director at Discovery Communications India. During his seven years at the helm, he also launched Discovery Travel & Living in India, and made the company’s India business profitable.
In conversation with exchange4media’s Shree Lahiri, Shourie speaks at length about BBC Entertainment’s programming in India, being upscale, the content strategy, activities around the F1 Indian Grand Prix and more…
Q. Please elaborate on the three focus areas – entertainment, lifestyle and factual content. How is BBC weaving its content around these?
At 7 pm, when the prime time band begins, we start with our nature series. Then there are our documentaries – on terrorism, such as on 9/11 and so on. In the case of lifestyle, there’s food content. It’s different from what you will find on other channels – more British, different formats. India has been used to that for a long time. The British programmes are very natural, while the American ones are a lot more scripted. India has been used to that, I mean American content. We have to re-establish and that’s what is happening, for there’s food programming, lifestyle, home decoration, fashion programmes. And then there is very strong drama in our weekly content, again which is different to American content. American programmes like ‘Friends’, ‘CSI’ are running across channels as well. But on BBC – ‘Spooks’, ‘Hotel Babylon’, ‘Sherlock Holmes’, ‘Yes Minister’ – though all these programmes may not have as much in terms of glamour, they do have a lot more storyline. I think that’s what the viewers are now getting to watch.
Q. Please tell us about the key marketing campaigns that the BBC has undertaken in recent times?
Q. What is BBC Entertainment’s reach today? What share of the English entertainment pie does it have?
Q. What are the challenges of positioning BBC Entertainment as a mainstream channel?
Q. How has ‘Dancing with the Stars’ been performing in India? Could you share some TAM figures?
Q. Have you lined up any special content, keeping in mind the festival season in India?
Q. BBC Entertainment is targeted at the upscale English speaking Indian audience. Do you think this is fragmented with channels like TLC and Fox, apart from the English movie channels? What steps do you take to retain this audience?
Q. How has the advertisers’ response been after the revamp?
Look at the Robb Report. Why has the Robb Report come to India? Because it delivers, there is enough of a market that is upscale in India, who will buy it.
Q. Is BBC planning to ‘Indianise’ its content, or launching India-specific programmes?
Q. Any special programming around the Formula 1 racing in India?
Q. Any social networking activities?http://www.facebook.com/BBCEntertainmentIndia , which has a fan following of about 66,000 people. The page was launched in January 2011 and since then the fans have been growing in numbers by the day. Also, this platform helps in reaching out to a larger audience, run interesting contests like Top Gear Formula 1 Special, interact with fans, and so on.
Q. BBC Entertainment is a niche channel with a niche audience. After it was launched in India in 2007, how has the response been post the programme revamp in January 2011?
Obviously, the market was English, and while it was upscale, it is not as big as volumes were not there. People who are familiar with English language want to watch English content, it’s by nature of the language, but it’s the high upscale market where there was a lot of advertising. So, the strategy was a multi-genre channel that appeals to that upscale market - people who watch English programmes. I’m not saying they don’t watch Hindi, Tamil, etc., but they also watch English.
The result that we got was very encouraging. Today, 88 advertisers are on board and these include Tata Sky, Sony, Honda… the big brands, the premium brands that you can think of, we have them.
People will not advertise a premium brand necessarily on national channel or a mass brand on a premium channel. It works both ways. There’s a very good reason – one is the cost of distribution, there’s carriage fees, cable operators’ charge. If I want to go all India markets, it becomes costly. Like in print, if you do magazines, it could be 10,000 copies, and if it’s targeted well, advertisers can reach the target market, the markets that you want to reach (You know, my background was in print). It’s all about targeting, and, therefore, delivering relevant eyeballs to the advertiser.
Q. What is the advertiser profile of BBC Entertainment in India?
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