Local cable channels spruce up content to woo small advertisers

MUMBAI: Regional cable has emerged as a strong contender in the advertising stakes. The local cable channels are wooing small advertisers and also bidding aggressively for movie titles and other software in order to offer a better programming mix to their viewers.

IN Mumbai Network added 53 movies to its existing library of 2000 film titles in the year 2002 - more than Zee or Sony. It also obtained news and current affairs programmes from global networks such as BBC - Wheels, India Business Report - which will be shown on the network.

The network is also on the verge of launching the city's first property show which will feature estates and infrastructure. The property show will also highlight pressing issues in terms of lack of proper roads or water problems. IN Mumbai has also completed its fibre optic network to facilitate a simulcast in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane districts.

Hathway Cable and Datacom has recently launched a variety of programmes in Bangalore: cookery shows, vaastu, medical issue-based show involving doctors and Paraspara which highlights local issues affecting the common man. Very soon, the network will provide viewers with information on all the programmes - FPC (fixed point chart) based schedule.

Indusind Entertainment and IN Mumbai's senior VP marketing George Sebastian says: "We have demonstrated that organised cable can be a catalyst in encouraging local advertisers to explore the option of television advertising. Having said that, we also would like to point out that we have fulfilled our responsibility of offering quality content and quantifying reach and viewership."

Hathway Cable and Datacom DGM-marketing Haresh Gehaney says: " Conversion of local advertisers is an ongoing and continuous process. Local cable channels offer several options such as narrow-casting which is not always possible on satellite channels. We have also introduced intra-city split options. Ad agencies can use us as a repeat medium to drill messages on a regular basis as they need to have deep pockets to advertise continuously on satellite channels."

IN Mumbai has a FPC (fixed point chart) transmission and also features in viewership surveys of TAM India. "The advertisements that appear on the channel can be tracked and clients can be sure of the fact that their advertisements have been carried on the channel. In the case of unorganised cable channels, there is no accurate information available on the kind of movies or the ads that have been aired or the viewership profile," adds Sebastian.

The officials representing the cable channels also claim that their offerings compete with satellite channels and even beats it on weekends.

Consider the following statistics for cable regional in different parts of the country


Rank of the channel


Channel share






Cable regional

Star Plus












Star Plus

Cable regional












Star Plus

Cable regional














Cable regional

Star Plus





Source TAM India C&S 4 years plus 2002 (Week 1-46)

"In fact, CVO has televised film premieres much ahead of satellite channels. For instance, CVO showed Chandni Bar, Bend it like Beckham, Monsoon Wedding and Kuch Khatti Kuch Meeti much before the satellite channels aired the same. The marketing teams of the satellite channels take a long time to plan their premieres whereas we have always capitalised on the first-mover advantage," says Sebastian. IN Mumbai has a natural advantage as the Hinduja group forayed into film distribution and financing business many years back.

News is another area where these cable channels have started making their presence felt. In Mumbai, both Hathway and IN Mumbai have already launched multi-lingual local news coverage in local languages such as Marathi and Hindi.

So what are the rates being offered by these cable channels? CVO offers 10-second spot rates of Rs 1000-1500 (Monday to Saturday) and Rs 2000-2500 on Sundays. IN Mumbai rates range between Rs 300-1500 per 10-seconds.

Hathway offers Rs 200 for a 10-second spot in Bangalore and Rs 150 for a 10-second spot in Pune. "In Mumbai, we have a flat rate of Rs 120,000 for 3600 seconds. We also have other options on our properties such as ITV dial a song," says Gehaney.

The regional cable channels have also managed to bag a substantial chunk of small advertising categories such as cooperative banks, coaching classes, sweetmeat shops, construction accessories such as marbles, tile companies, boutiques and fitness centres.

"We have clients such as Diamond Sinks, Supreme Marbles, Kajoria Tiles, C Bhogilal and Co amongst others. With several of these clients, we have prepared the creatives and actually performed the funcion of their advertising agency," says IN Mumbai's Sebastian.

Hathway's Gehaney adds: " We have clients such as HDFC Standard Life, HPCL's Lal Ghoda lube, Cans and Homes, Saraswati coaching classes, Godrej Sara Lee and restaurants, hair oils and OTC (over the counter) products. Certain spenders like Hindustan Lever have cut their budgets and are off cable channels. But FMCGs are still big spenders."

Taking a cue from these successful acquisitions, several satellite channels have also started emulating the business models of these regional cable channels.

'Alpha Features', the latest ad revenue generation strategy announced by Zee's Alpha Group of regional channels, plans to do away with the myth that TV advertising is expensive.

The innovative concept aims at targeting the small entrepreneurs and retailers in each region by giving them a chance to advertise brands which need high local penetration and visibility.

By doing so, the Alpha channels, part of the Zee network, expect to expand their revenue stream by tapping the retail segment which they expect will contribute 50 per cent of the overall revenue of the channels.

"Today, with the introduction of Alpha Features, we are bridging the gap existing between an advertiser and viewer by offering them a mutually beneficial relationship. The initiative will also enable the advertising market to grow exponentially with the introduction of cost effective advertisements. We have advertisers like Runwal Builders, Chintamani Jewelers, Davars College, Raj Tours and Travels to name a few," says Alpha Channels business head Prashant Sanwal.

Also joining the fray are news channels like Sahara TV which is planning to launch regional channels in different parts of the country and tap the local advertisers.

"Conditional access system will be a boon for us considering the kind of investments we have made in cutting edge content. In fact, CVO was the first pay-channel of its kind and networks such as Seven Star (Mumbai) and RPG (Kolkata) actually paid us to have it in their bouquet. CAS will give us an opportunity to stabilise, consolidate and restructure our existing operations," adds IN Mumbai's Sebastian.

Looks as if these players are looking beyond the top 100 advertisers and gearing to move to the lower rungs in the post CAS scenario.

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