NGC looks at an 'Emerging India' next month

MUMBAI: National Geographic Channel (NGC) will celebrate India next month with an Emerging India Week.

This will look at different topics from call centres in Mumbai to Delhi's firefighters.

Speaking to on the localisation plans NGC India VP marketing Rajesh Sheshadri says, "We have a two-fold plan for localisation. One is in terms of look and feel of the channel, packaging as we call it. We are in the process of creating packaging that will connect at a local level.

"The other is from creating local programmes. We already have India based programming, like Megacities: Mumbai, Sunset Bollywood, Delhi in Flames and we are in the process of increasing this bank of content. We don’t localise for localisation sake. Even the India based programming reflects our overall positioning of Think Again. Therefore, even if a Mumbaikar sees the Megacities episode on Mumbai he will learn 10 things about it that he did not know earlier."

The Emerging India Week takes place on the week of 15 August. One key episode that will air here is Bombay Calling at 10 pm on 15 August. This looks at what life is like in a call centre in the country's financial capital and the call centre in question is Epircentre. It gives viewers an insiders view of how a call centre operates and what it takes to achieve success.

It looks at the behavioural attitudes of the young employees who make good money early in their career. It will also examine at how their parents view the profession. For instance, a girl who works in the call centre comes from the sugar belt. Her father expresses pride at what she has achieved. That is because in her home town there are not many opportunities for growth. Those opportunities are to be found in the city.

Another episode is called Delhi In Flames. This looks at Delhi's firefighters and how they cope with the challenges of working in the country's capital. Then there is the technology based episode Hole in the Wall. What is interesting is the manner in which it shows how technology cuts through India's social and cultural barriers.

A researcher Dr. Sugata Mitra conducted a series of experiments. It involved putting up a high speed computer on the walls of different places like slums. The children, irrespective of where they lived, were able to teach themselves how to surf the internet and how to download content from the web.

It shows that children because of their curious nature have more scope to be self taught compared to adults. While on the subject of children as had been reported by NGC has kicked off a Junior Hunt. This is a quest to find India’s superkid who is curious, adventurous, articulate, energetic and smart, in short, an all rounder.

Sheshadri points out that NGC has so far contacted 180 schools all of whom have expressed interest. Some of them are letting a brand inside for the first time, which he finds encouraging. The hunt should come to an end by the end of September. The channel says that the endeavour aims to extend its children’s block Nat Geo Junior on-ground to provide an intelligent platform for kids to showcase their talent through a fun-filled, learning experience.

Asked about how the idea for the Junior Hunt came about Sheshadri says, "Last year, we had launched the Nat Geo Junior block for kids on the channel. Its performance made us think again about what we are doing for kids. We realised that children are a very important set of audience whom we need to cater to and we had to make it a 360-degree experience for them too.

"Then came an idea of encouraging kids to realise their potential but not based on the traditional parameters of grades in school. We are looking for a kid who likes his/her books as much as sports, likes to learn and discover new things, is adventurous, out-going and ready to take on challenges, in short an all-rounder.

He points out that when NGC launched its Junior on air, block experts were consulted for their feedback on provide edutainment for the young audience. The aim is to have content through which children learn while having fun. "For the Nat Geo Junior block we try to select programmes that kids can relate to and are also superlative. Therefore, the segment is well appreciated by kids as well as their teachers and parents" adds Sheshadri.

One local property that has done well for NGC has been Mission. There are plans in the pipeline to do another one but so far nothing has concretised.

Sheshadri adds that the programing template on NGC going forward is two fold. One will be to have a different genre of infotainment every night. So on Monday, there is Nat Geo Investigates, on Wednesday technology takes the spotlight etc. The other strand is to have theme weeks. As had been reported earlier by NGC will have a Terror Week in September.

"We have created two hour special stacks from Monday – Friday to show case particular genres of content. This runs between 8-10 pm. Following that at 10 pm, we have Nat Geo Presents which will showcase our theme weeks, global tentpoles, etc. All of these bands have been packaged in a manner that is attractive to the advertiser."

In terms of how viewers perception of the channel have changed since the Think Again rebranding is concerned Sheshadri says, "Earlier NGC was associated mainly with wildlife and the adventure of exploration. Now, though we are seen as being a channel that specialises in different subjects like those of technological interest. A lot of this has to do with shows like Megacities.

"We are seen as airing quality shows that are tech driven. Technology is something that our viewers can relate to more directly compared to wildlife. That is because they might use things that are technically complex though they might not always be aawre of it. In whatever we do, we ensure that uniqueness in terms of presentation, concepts and ideas is maintained and there is a take back value for our viewers from our programming. This approach is starting to pay dividends."

On the advertising front, Sheshadri agrees with the industry view that a Tam Elite Panel will increase ad revenue for the English entertainment and infotainment genre. He says, "An elite panel in Tam will help advertisers to identify what their target viewer is watching and will help them to direct their advertising spends at relevant places. English entertainment and the infotainment segment should definitely see a rise in ad revenue. A lot of this would depend on both - the acceptance of this metric among the agencies and clients and the measurement system adopted by this panel.

"The ad sales strategy has been fine tuned to reflect the content that we have and hence the target group that comes on the channel to consume this content. Our content is evolved and hence the customer that comes to watch us is also evolved and sophisticated. All our specials have rated extremely well with the advertising fraternity even though they are based on varied topics from It Happens Only In India to Megacities to Most Amazing Moments."

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