Television

'Fragmentation is going to come in the TV industry in a far larger way than has happened so far' : Apurva Purohit - Times Television Network COO

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Zoom, the first Indian, premium, non-fiction lifestyle and entertainment channel which targets the young and upwardly mobile. The aspirational channel knits together the many fine skeins that make up lifestyle; so there is celebrity, high living, relationship advice, Bollywood, gossip, fashion, music, astrology and Bollywood shows.

Indiantelevision.com's Seema Pherwani spoke to Times Television Network COO Apurva Purohit for a lowdown on the channel and an overview of the lifestyle genre.

What's the viewer response to Zoom?

I think the response has been very positive and people are commenting on the fact that it's a different product. We believe that the timing of a lifestyle channel is just right. With middle class Indians travelling across the globe and evolving as a culture, people are a lot more concerned about dressing well and looking good. So, there's a need-gap which we are trying to fill.

Many believe the time is still not right for such a channel, since the niche audience constitutes a very small percentage?

Well, the audience we are looking at is urban India, and it is slowly growing. A lot of positive response has come in even from smaller towns like Nasik or Panipat; which are in a sense mini-metros. Since the channel is very aspirational, it appeals to the sensibilities of the audience, fulfilling their aspirations with shows like the Manish Malhotra show.

What's the gestation period you'd have for the channel?

It would take some time for a channel to settle on its own, and for us at the channel level to understand the viewer taste and the kind of programming that people like or don't like. Also, for a programme to fit into and become a habit for people to become a habit, it would take two to three months.

Discovery Travel and Living would soon be launching, StarOne will be doing some lifestyle programming. So, do you see a splash in the market in terms of lifestyle programming?

From what I hear, StarOne is 99 per cent fiction.

But it's the same target audience?

I don't know whether we are talking of the same target audience for fiction and non-fiction. We have to remember that any television product or a print product today will try to appeal to the SEC A B segment and to a certain extent the C's. It's because these are the high-consuming audiences that advertisers want. So we are essentially trying to appeal to the same target audience. But I strongly believe that fiction is ultimately a mass product, whether it's a Sony or a StarOne or any other fiction channel it will be mass based.

With competition beefing up in the market, how do you plan to change your programming?

I don't think our programming is only based on what competition is doing or will be doing. We would define our competition as the niche channels like Channel [V] and MTV and now Discovery as you're saying. So, these channels are definitely our competition, because we are in the non-fiction game and not the fiction game.

Our programming is a product of what market research we've done, which has defined what the consumer wants. There are a few 'need-gaps' in the market and we are addressing those need gaps. So, programming will not change drastically as more lifestyle channels come into the market. The basic genre will remain the same

'There are a few 'need-gaps' in the market and we are addressing those need gaps '

But Discovery will have shows like Globe Trekker, World Poker Tour, Great Vacation Homes targeting the la-de de cr?me audience. Whereas you have Bole to, Zoom Chakachak and Mirchi Top 20.

Since, we have a fair amount of Bollywood and music on the channel our audience spans across both of Channel [V] an MTV both. And with lifestyle programming we would span across the Discovery audience. I would say our audience would be slightly broader than Discovery, primarily because of the language of content. Our channel is Hinglish and they would be English. But from the psychographic profile perspective, our audiences will be the same.

What happens to your E! band, considering that there has been a talk of E! Networks entering India?

Well, it's a pretty clear understanding we have with them and the E! band will continue. The kind of people we profile on the band, celebrity homes have not been seen earlier in India.

Do you see a further fragmentation in the genre?

Fragmentation is going to come in the TV industry in a far larger way than has happened so far. In the years to come, there will be far more niche channels focused at specific target audiences, fulfilling the need-gaps in the market. So, this is only the start of niche channels. And having entered the market at this stage of its evolution, we see a great potential in all the genres that we are looking at, be it lifestyle or the spiritual channel. These niche channels will have a unique positioning in the consumer's mind.

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