iWorld

Sony BBC Earth dominates factual entertainment space within a year

Telcos think it will increase the financial burden on them

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MUMBAI: The infotainment genre was thought of as a saturated space with enough players competing for niche viewership. That was until Sony BBC Earth took up the challenge of entering a segment, which has been ruled by legacy brands for long. Proving naysayers wrong, the channel scaled up its market share from 22 per cent to 26 per cent in the metro cities during the first quarter of FY18-19 itself.

A year down the line, Indiantelevision.com caught up with Sony Pictures Network English cluster business head Tushar Shah. He said that the genre had fallen into the trap of pandering to viewership by offering content without the basic requirements expected by the consumers.

“We figured out through our research and discussions with our consumers that actually the main slot that was information and entertainment was needed and people were moving towards entertainment. So the main premise of the category itself was missing and that was the premise which we planned to fill and bring back the days of infotainment on TV,” he says.

From the initial 14-15 minutes of viewership, Sony BBC Earth now gets 27 minutes, Shah says. He admits that it was a challenge to dethrone a channel that was already ruling the market and jump from the eighth to the first position within a year.

“It is difficult to change the habit of what you are watching for 15-20 years and to break that is the biggest challenge that anyone could have. Our target is not just the viewers, it is also our trade partners, our distributors, our advertisers, we have to take them all along so that we are able to tell the story that we want to convey to the consumers,” he adds.

Shah’s team is not resting on its laurels. Their goal is to create a bond with audiences that will last long. Shah is pretty confident about the growth of the whole infotainment genre in general.

“If you look at the infotainment space, it is just as big as the English movie space, perhaps a little bigger also, depending on the week on week numbers. It is even bigger than the English general entertainment channels but the revenue is not commensurate with the size of the category and that is something I want to see growing,” he reveals.

Building a brand of this nature entails several challenges.

“Mobilisation is your challenge and the second is decoding the consumer and third is, once you have identified the positioning of the channel, meeting that promise is a big challenge,” says Shah.

Launched in March 2017 with Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and English audio feeds being the main languages, the channel has attempted to build its brand on three strong pillars - visual effects, never seen before and positive insights to stories, staying true to its tagline ‘feel alive’ along with creating the emotional bond with the viewers that will make them remember it for lifelong.

Spy in the Wild, The Hunt, Attenborough’s Big Birds and Rick Stein’s India are some of the shows that are helping the channel to garner more eyeballs. If the channel can create ripples within just a year, it surely has more milestones to record in the coming years.

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