Nothing niche about niche channels

MUMBAI: There is nothing called niche channels as the viewership for speciality content has grown substantially and the term is used by media buyers to stitch better deals, broadcasters said.

Zee Sports Business CEO Atul Pande said Ten Golf can be termed as a niche channel but the truth of the matter is that 1.9 million viewers watched a golf game last year. The pricing at Rs 200 is a premium and the channel addresses specific consumers.

"Certain views have developed on niche content that are incorrect. 40 million people viewed a soccer game last year. And yet when the channel went to the advertisers to sell soccer as an alternative to cricket, the advertisers said that soccer was niche," Pande said, while speaking at a session on ‘Building Sustainable Models For Niche Content‘ in Ficci Frames 2012.

Turner International India GM Entertainment Networks South Asia Monica Tata said that the concept of niche does not exist, while urging for a different ratings system for addressing special interest channels. “There are special interest channels for audiences who appreciate certain content, "she said.

A&ENetworks TV18 JV president Ajay Chacko agreed that the concept of niche existed only in the minds of media buyers. “Niche is a currency used not by consumers but by media buyers. We should look at absolute numbers and not just the percentage of viewers for English content. The power of niche brands will be a force to be reckoned with going forward as digitisation happens," he said.

Star India senior VP English programming Rasika Tyagi noted that one shouldn’t just talk about absolute numbers but also about the quality of the audience being delivered by channels like Star World. “I may only deliver five million viewers, but those viewers are hard to reach out to on other platforms. They have money and are opinionated. They dictate trends."

Tyagi also said that paying Rs 5 for a channel (in Cas territories) is not a sustainable business model in the long term.

Tyagi also said that paying Rs 5 for a channel (in Cas territories) is not a sustainable business model in the long term.

NDTV Lifestyle CEO Smeeta Chakrabarti noted that broadcasters devalued their content through such low pricing. "You now have a situation where somebody pays Rs 150 for a movie ticket but will not pay even Rs 5 for a channel. The way we look at specialist programming is that we cater to people’s passions. We build tribes and communities. Now they should be willing to pay for their passions."

Star CJ CEO Paritosh Joshi who moderated the session pointed out that BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) is developing a measurement system that understands not just numbers but also viewer’s affinity to content.

The issue also came up about content being able to travel. Tata said that kids content like ‘Kumbh Karan‘ does travel. "It is about a show‘s ability to relate. However, we (Turner) who run children’s channels have to be more careful compared to other broadcasters about what is being shown."

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