'Food chnnls have tremendous potential to grow' : FoodFood COO Karthik Lakshminarayan

FoodFood, one of the three recently launched food specialty channels in India, is completing six months on 24 July. With Sanjeev Kapoor and Astro as promoters and Madhuri Dixit as the lifestyle promoter, the channel took up the challenge of growing a new genre in India. Gaurav Laghate caught up with FoodFood COO Karthik Lakshminarayan to talk about the plans ahead and the journey so far.


FoodFood is completing six months of operations. Has it been a bumpy or a smooth ride for a channel that is exploring a new genre in India?

We are on track as per our business plan. We launched in January and as we are completing our first phase, we are seeing a healthy growth in terms of ratings as well as revenues.

Being a speciality channel in Hindi, our connectivity in the Hindi speaking markets is approximately 60 per cent, which is quite good. Also if you see our reach, we have a 5.7 per cent reach in C&S households, while in the core TG of Female 25+ Sec ABC, our reach is almost 9 per cent.

Isn?t the ratings too narrow at this stage?

Our reach is growing and in the core TG we are in the 8-12 GRPs (gross rating points) band. We are more than double of the competition (Zee Khana Khazana and Food First) in terms of ratings as well as time spent on the channel. Our weekly average time spent is over 30 minutes per user, which is extremely healthy.

So, you see, there is no immediate competition. However, having said that, we do feel there is more potential for the genre to grow. But there is no benchmark as such. If you see the US market, the food channels are doing really well, and we see similar potential here also.

So are you planning to take the channel overseas?

There are definitely plans to take the channel to the international markets. We have already signed carriage deals in the Middle East and will launch FoodFood there soon. We are a Hindi food channel and will cater mainly to the Indian diaspora.

FoodFood seems to be the only channel in this genre that is spending on distribution. How big is your carriage payout?

I do not call it spend. It is an investment me make for distributing the channel. And as far as our position on the cable platform is concerned, we try to get in the Hyper-band and we are also available on S-band in certain markets.

The industry is very dynamic and one has to always fight for the right band.

Having said that, we are now entering into the second phase of growth. We will step up our investments in distribution, marketing and content.

?We are now entering into the second phase of growth. We will step up our investments in distribution, marketing and content. ?

And in content?

When we launched the channel, the buzz generated by Bollywood actress Madhuri Dixit (lifestyle ambassador of the channel), and Sanjeev Kapoor (promoter, celebrity chef) took us to a certain level. Now with our programming, we are going to cash on it.

Very soon, you will see the launch of our biggest reality show - Maha Challenge which will have both Dixit and Kapoor and their teams of women and men battling it out to answer who is the better cook - men or women. It is a battle of sexes in its true sense. The 13-part series is being produced by Fremantle India. We will launch it in September and you will see Dixit for the first time in this role on television.

We will also launch another reality show Secret Recipes in which people will come with their recipes and will cook with Kapoor.

How many advertisers do you have on board now?

We have over a dozen advertisers right now including Amul and Samsung. Most of them are either kitchen appliances or food related clients, who get perfect exposure on FoodFood.

And all these get integrated seamlessly in the shows that we air. We do not want to clutter our shows with advertisements at this time and we have only 4-5 minute ads in the half-hour slots.

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