Our focus will be to bring more localized & home-grown concepts for audience: Kevin Vaz

In a conversation with e4m, President & Head - Infotainment, Kids & Regional Entertainment Channels, Star & Disney India talks about the importance of regional markets and feeds for Nat Geo

e4m by Sonam Saini
Published: Feb 1, 2021 8:32 AM  | 6 min read

National Geographic India has recently launched its Kannada feed to narrate specialized stories for the Kannada speaking audience across the country. With the addition of the feed, the channel is now available in six languages.

In a conversation with exchange4media, Kevin Vaz, President & Head - Infotainment, Kids & Regional Entertainment Channels, Star & Disney India, who recently taken over the infotainment and kids portfolio, talks about the regional market presence and feeds for the National Geographic, along with focus area for 2021 for the network’s infotainment genre.


How important is the regional feed for National Geographic? And what led to the launch of the Kannada feed?  

We have been constantly working towards making our relationship with our viewers more personal and connected, bringing a wholesome meaning to our stories through localization. The non-speaking Hindi markets have been contributing extremely well and we see a huge potential in narrating our stories in languages that our audiences prefer. It gives them an opportunity to experience our authentic and factual style of storytelling in their spoken language. Karnataka is an important market for us; given that we already have established and successful channels in the state and the increasing traction for our National Geographic content further encouraged us to bring our stories to Kannada.   

Will the content be dubbed in the Kannada language? What difference can the audience expect? 

Yes. Our Kannada speaking audiences can now engage with our content in a language and manner that they prefer. However, we do not just dub the content but in fact, focus on trans-creating our stories.  Adding local idioms and flavours along with region-specific references that are representative of the audiences helps make the content more meaningful and personal. We take great measures to maintain the authenticity and credibility of our stories and adding local nuances only enhances the National Geographic experience for our viewers.  

Given that localization and original programming are also critical to our content strategy, we would love to explore the interesting facets of the state of Karnataka and include the rich culture & heritage in our stories. From the historic ruins at Hampi to the legacy of Royalty and its Palaces, and the varied wildlife found in the forests of Kabini and Bandipur, there is a lot for us to explore and showcase to our viewers. 

Can you share the percentage of viewership that comes from different feeds?    

National Geographic is one of the most respected and loved channels in India and around the world. While we cannot share the viewership from different feeds, from a region-wise perspective, we have the Hindi speaking markets contributing the most - reaching out to almost 10 Million viewers on a month on month basis. It is followed by Tamil Nadu where the channels reach out to more than 2.1 Million viewers on a month on month basis. West Bengal and Karnataka contribute almost the same percentage. Andhra Pradesh brings in a combined reach of more than 2.6 million viewers on a month on month basis. Now with the Kannada feed launch, we are expecting a significant growth coming from that region. The contribution from regional markets has been on a steady rise and hence, we see the potential to make the experience more relatable for our audiences.

Are you planning to add more language feeds this year? 

It will be too early for us to comment on it. We are constantly evaluating opportunities that help us connect with our audiences at a much deeper and more personal level. While adding language feeds is one way of doing it. We also look to bring context through our home-grown productions and our promotional strategies – on our channels as well through our experiences. For instance, for Republic Day, we brought a whole new perspective to the Indian tri-colours through some stunning visuals of our country, our people, our wildlife and our culture at large.  

How much do language feeds boost ad revenue for the channel?  

We create compelling, fascinating content experiences and stories that make our audiences eager to return to us, again and again; our partners’ value and understand this. Along with conventional advertising, we see more and more local brands looking to partner with us and have us narrate their brand story through our authentic style of storytelling. It gives them an opportunity to share their in-depth journey and message through the lens of a fact-based and credible platform across various languages.  

What is the content strategy planned for the channel this year? How many shows, new launches are in the pipeline? 

We are really excited about the stories we can bring for audiences this year. We recently announced Spotlight showcasing the best features from National Geographic created by some of the most renowned filmmakers in the world. While we are confident of our audiences loving and appreciating the films, we also saw an encouraging response from brands across categories.  

For the coming year, we have a strong line-up of high-quality, premium and entertaining content – global stories and local initiatives - coming up. Our properties such as the popular Mega Icons to the award-winning Lockdown: India Fights Back have been loved by both our audiences and brands and I am happy to say that along with a strong pipeline of great global stories, we are also in the process of developing a few specially curated home-grown concepts that will continue to inspire and enlighten our audiences. 

How important is social media for Nat Geo? 

We have a strong and engaged community of 10 million+ dedicated followers across our social media in India. Through our platforms, we offer people a special, unfiltered view of our planet and cultures and generate everyday conversations with our fans. Along with this, we also use the power of our social media to create specialized properties for our partners who get an opportunity to reach out to our digital community. For instance, we have recently partnered with Singapore Tourism and Chhattisgarh tourism to create short format visually stunning content that will exclusively be showcased on our digital platforms. We will be premiering the films in the month of February. 

What is going to be the network's focus area for its infotainment vertical in 2021? 

 In 2021, we will continue to bring stories that will push the boundaries of our knowledge of how we understand the world. Our focus will be to bring more localized and home-grown concepts for audiences; deepening our engagement with our audiences and partners. In addition to this, we will also be looking at creating unique, impactful and monetizable properties across all our platforms that will excite our partners alongside our viewers. 



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