For infotainment channel History TV18, the pace of the first
year has been dictated by regional-language feeds, heavy marketing
with Bollywood superstar Salman Khan as the face, carriage
agreements with cable and DTH networks and meticulous study
of ratings to see where the viewership expansion is taking
The results are palpable. The first year
of History TV18 happened to be in a period when the share
of infotainment genre in the television space, according to
TAM data c&s4+ all India, grew by 37 per cent to 1.4 per
cent in genre share (Jan - September 2012) from 1.1 per cent
a year earlier. The increase in the share of infotainment
was in part because competition too beefed up content and
launched more local language feeds.
TV18 GM marketing Sangeetha Aiyer notes that while progress
has been made there is a way to go to achieve what it has
done in the US. "History is a leader in the US and other
key markets of the world. We are yet to achieve that in the
terms of the way forward, she says that the first key step
to consolidate ratings is to strengthen the distribution footprint.
Expansion in 1mn+ town class therefore will be important.
The channel is also pinning its hopes on digitisation as the
factual genre gets significant contribution to viewership
from digital cable and DTH platforms. "So we are ensuring
that we focus on our presence and availability through these
with focussing on connectivity and availability to be optimal
and accelerated, parallely the broadcaster is also working
on the programming strategy and content mix. "A few subgenres
within the factual entertainment genre have shown traction
for us," said Aiyer.
elaborates that the sub genres that will be focussed on going
forward are 1) Action/ adventuer/ thrills; 2) informative
programming packaged in an entertaining way like The Works,
Food Tech, etc that are character driven; and 3) India centric
content. The aim is to continue to strengthen this sub genre.
Another type of content that is working is topical stuff which
will more be like a tactical strategy to get the much needed
spikes, she points out.
main issue for this channel like others in the English space
is to build appointment viewing. "More and more we are
also moving to stripping content as a strategy. That seems
the key to build some amount of pattern for appointment viewing
in this genre which is otherwise snacking in nature,"
A+E Networks had a JV with Fox International Channels for
The History Channel. When the JV concluded the channel was
rebranded as Fox History and Entertainment. Subsequently,
the channel moved into the lifestyle space and was rebranded
as Fox Traveller leaving room for the new History TV18 channel.
said that one of the biggest challenges faced was the brand
name. "Unfortunately, since the channel already had a
presence in India, people had misconceptions that the new
History TV18 channel would be all about History in the real
sense of the word. Also because of its name, there was a perception
that the content will be about date, text bookish, documentary-style,
preachy etc. That was the main challenge."
was one of the main reasons that the channel used Salman Khan
as a brand ambassador in order to dispel this. This move was
unusual and the deal with Khan was for one year. The tagline
'Kuchh Naya Dekho, History Bante Dekho' aims to encompass
the breadth of content and themes that History brings to Indian
audiences - History here is not just about the past, it's
as much about people making history today.
about the difference between the new History TV18 channel
vis-à-vis what the earlier avatar was, she said that
the focus is on contemporary; it is about action and adventure.
It is about people making History every day. "And through
this unique and exciting partnership with Salman Khan, we
have managed to reach out to a number of mainstream viewers
we could reach otherwise."
such a strong positioning we are clearly differentiated from
competition and our strategy is more proactive in nature and
in line with our strategy of growing the genre. The channel
was 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."
Languages: The other thing that History TV18 did was to
launch in eight languages. No other broadcaster in this genre
is available in so many languages. Asked if History TV18 was
maybe a bit too aggressive on the language feed front, she
noted that being present in different languages was one of
its key differentiators which helped grow the entire genre.
"It has been one of our greatest strengths. Moreover,
we wouldn't have ventured into 'languaging' if the cost-benefit
aspect didn't work out."
has played a key role in building brand connect with 'The
Greatest Indian' initiative. This was a search to find the
greatest Indian since Mahatma Gandhi. This gave the channel
the chance to use social media in an effective way. "We
got over 2 crore votes coming through missed calls and online.
The campaign also sustained a healthy engagement on Social
Media platforms reaching over 20 lac Facebook users through
viral content. Comparisons and discussions followed on Twitter
with hashtags related to the initiative trending consistently
and reaching over 200,000 users daily."
is the roadmap in this regard going to be? "Our aim is
to have one local show a quarter. We have also acquired shows
that were shot in India like 'Passage Through India', 'India
on 4 Wheels'. Having said that, it has been a mix of shows
like 'Pawn Stars' that have delivered," Aiyer said.
as part of its special anniversary celebration, the broadcaster
has introduced 'History's Hot Shots', a recap of some series
aired on the channel in the last 1 year. The channel is airing
shows like 'IRT Deadliest Roads', 'Food Tech', 'Pawn Stars
- Season 2', 'Ax Men - Season 4', 'Around the World in 80
Days' and 'Chasing Mummies'.
channels in pipeline? No decision has been made yet about
more channel launches. Like other broadcasters, the JV is
looking to see how digitisation pans out. The priority is
to establish History TV18 as the flagship channel from the
JV and watch it grow the genre, market share and revenues.
market scenario: On the ad revenue front, Aiyer says that
the challenge is that despite delivering five times the GRPS
of other English genres like news and English GEC, the revenue
that the Factual Entertainment genre has is probably one fifth
that of English News. It stands at around Rs 2 billion.
will most probably need a more concentrated effort by the
genre itself and the players thereof to push the agenda of
the kind and number of audiences its delivers. We at History
TV18 continue to push this agenda with trade and advertising
fraternity," says Aiyer.
on the difference that the channel has made in revenue terms,
Aiyer said that this genre had maximum contribution from FMCG
in the past. "This is an established rule that we have
challenged. We have tried and have succeeded in bringing on
board other categories actively like banking, telecom, consumer
durables, etc. Our objective this year is to become the number
two player in terms of revenue and so far we are on track
for the same."
adds that the leader in the genre needs to take a call on
pushing effective rates.
terms if the slowdown, Aiyer notes that the belief is that
if one gets the fundamentals right, everything else will fall
in place. "We know we have a great product offering and
believe there is a strong market for us. Moreover the breadth
of our audiences and advertisers provides a bit of an edge
or cushioning as compared to categories and genres that are
independent or have fewer advertiser segments."
a media buyer's take, VivaKi Exchange CEO Mona Jain says that
History has given some amount of incremental reach. "It
provides cost effective opportunities to target SEC A,B audiences.
clients that use the infotainment genre have added History
to the media mix. Using Salman Khan got them instant reach.
Also interest levels rose. Now the content has to speak for
itself. Viewership will depend on the kind of properties that
effective rate on this genre is around Rs 1300 per 10 second
spot. "It will be difficult for them to take this up.
This category has become competitive with many players. I
expect this genre to grow by around 10 per cent this year.
i don't think that the slowdown will affect it. The slowdown
is having a bigger effect on big ticket properties where advertisers
are hesitating and waiting. But for cost effective channels
that provide a good entry point like History that will not
be the case."
split in ad-subscription revenue possible: With digitisation,
niche broadcasters hope to get a fairer share in subscription
feels that with digitisation there is the chance that the
split between advertising and subscription revenue could be
50:50 three years down the line for this genre if the digital
timeline is stuck to. She maintains that the channel is on
track to achieve breakeven in two years time.
still a niche genre in India, factual entertainment is a growth
genre. It is the only genre that has seen a year-on-year growth
2008 onwards. In fact, it has a 29 per cent growth in viewership
(2008 versus 2010). We believe it has potential to grow more
and become a relatively mainstream genre. And digitisation
will provide an impetus to the same," says Aiyer.