Television

'We're not going in with a pistol, we're going with a cannon' : Rajesh Kamat - Colors CEO

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 Rajesh Kamat, CEO of Viacom18's Hindi GEC Colors, has a clear mandate - to ensure his upcoming channel a position amongst the top 3 players in the category within a year of launch.

In a genre where Colors is the 10th entrant, Kamat has his task cut out and will have to bring to bear all the experience he garnered in earlier stints as MD of Endemol India and senior VP commercial & business planning at Star India.

Speaking to Indiantelevision.com, Kamat gives his take on the whys and wherefores of the most expensive channel launch activity ever undertaken by a Hindi GEC.

Excerpts:

What would you term as the core TG for Colors?

While we propagate programming that appeals across, if I have to specify a core TG, 15 to 34 is a number I would peg ourselves on.

In a GEC, the 15 to 34 is what gets you your first one third. The 25 + is where the loyal audience starts. What we're doing is, we're getting the early adaptors and the initiators in the first phase. Once we get that, we've made our entry into the single TV households. That's when you start consolidating. And the consolidation phase is actually your 25+ female. Though males would come in, that consolidation phase would focus on the female.

That aspect of your programming focus is not reflected in either Fear Factor or in Mohe Rang De, the two shows that have been showcased thus far?

Not right now. What happens is, with these differentiated and disruptive programmes is that you lock in your first eyeballs. With big movies as well.

So you will have a big band for movies?

Absolutely.

But where will they come from? Isn't the market more or less locked in as far as movie titles are concerned?

These will be new ones. Now the market is moving towards syndicated movies - first airing, second airing, third airing… So there are quite a few lots floating around.

Your entry into viewer mind space will therefore be with these tent pole shows and movies?

I would not say entry into mind space. But the invitation card to viewers, if I can put it this way, would possibly have highlights on these. Because these are the ones that will actually draw the attention of the early adaptors and initiators.

But while doing this, we will have the conventional shows that we believe will compete in the long running rating game.

'Audience flow at an earlier point used to be from a Kasautti… to a Kahaani… and then on to a Kyunki. Because they (the majority) liked the same kind of shows. Those days are gone'

Will you be putting out your big movie titles in this six month window?

Absolutely. Be it big ticket reality shows, be it events, be it movies; that's where you'll get the sampling. As for differentiated content, it would be a Mohe Rang De, typically.

We see it that 300 GRPs is the target. But it is all this activity in the initial six months that will give us the 100 GRPs (base to build on).

How will you crack the balance 200?

Once you cross 100, it is all about adding 3, 5, 10 GRPs week on week That is what will take time. This is not a T20 game.

Isn't that something that all the channels in the chasing pack (to Star Plus and Zee TV) have failed to crack? How to cross the 100 GRP barrier?

Imagine is three-four months old. I take it as a compliment (to them) when somebody tells them that they can't go beyond a 90 or a 100. To get to a 90 was not simple. A Star One with all the clout of the Star network behind it opened with a 19 GRP, 9X was 20. Imagine opened at 55, and went to 89 in a short time. But from now on, the growth will be slow.

Which raises the question for you? These past three months has seen Imagine make a fast take-off and 9X slowly and surely build its story. That means among the new entrants two have already succeeded and are fighting it out for the third position. And way above them we have the strong number 1 and 2. Is that how you're looking at it in terms of the distance you have to cover?

Not quite. It is not necessarily going to be a 2 + 2. It could well be a 1 + 3. If that becomes the game, the difference between a 300 and a 150 might grow larger. And Star might gain back whatever its premium was, if at all. That remains to be seen.

But if we have such a scenario, the balance three, 150 and 300, or 150 and 100 or 150 and 120 there's a game. Two players at 120 each and one player at 80, is better than one player at 150.

Again, this whole game is about sustenance. It's financial investors versus strategic investors. What is the mindset? Are you looking at 'first year I have to extract this much money'?

You've identified six months as the time frame to embed yourself in viewer mind space. That all three new entrants might succeed is not a scenario that most experts have even considered, let alone thought possible?

If you take the US as an example, three networks used to account for 90 per cent eyeballs. Today the same three networks get 35 per cent eyeballs.

Even in India, where people used to talk about 70 per cent of the audiences flowing from one show to another, is a thing of the past. Now, there is nothing like saying I go from this show to this show on the same channel. It doesn't go vertical. You actually migrate between channels based on the shows you like. That's how the viewership pattern is going.

And it's not also as if the same person in the same household is watching. You're aggregating different types of eyeballs. There is no linearity in terms of audience flow.

Audience flow at an earlier point used to be from a Kasautti… to a Kahaani… and then on to a Kyunki. Because they (the majority) liked the same kind of shows. Those days are gone.

So if we were to draw a one liner on why players like yourself believe you are not too late getting into this game, it would be because linearity in terms of watching schedules are a thing of the past?

Absolutely. People will watch shows and come in and go out. That's what it is and that's what we're moving into as a market.

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