History TV18’s challenge will be to build a profitable revenue scale

MUMBAI: Faced with severe competition from strong rivals like Discovery and NGC channels in the infotainment genre, late entrant History TV18’s strategy of offering the most number of regional feeds will attract a wider range of advertisers but the challenge will be to build a profitable revenue scale.

Madison Media Group CEO Punitha Arumugam pegs the infotainment genre ad market at Rs 1.5 billion and believes that regional is still a developing space. The major chunk of the revenue, however, is taken away by the two big league players, leaving most of the others in the genre struggling.

For History TV18, the best approach was to have an alternate strategy. Already available in seven languages (Gujarati, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Hindi and English), the plan is to launch two more regional feeds.

Arumugam favours such a strategy. “The future for not only infotainment channels but for every channel in the market is to have regional feeds. As more and more advertisers are exploring better targeting of audiences and localisation of messaging, the need of the hour is for regionalisation of national telecast beams,” she says.

Several media experts agree that channels up against much bigger rivals should woo advertisers by creating a viable local alternate to the national option.

Says Lodestar UM COO Nandini Dias, “Infotainment channels have had regional language feeds for quite a while now. Whenever a channel adds a language feed, the ratings in the state increase. This is more evident in the south of India rather than markets like Gujarat or West Bengal. But an increase in viewership is always welcome, however marginal. I am sure the channel would have done a cost-benefit analysis before going ahead with this strategy."

The success of regional feeds also depends on the region where the feed is launched. And of all of History TV18’s language languages, Gujarati seems to be the most debatable. Gujarat remains largely a Hindi TV-viewing market.

Says Spatial Access joint CEO Nikhil Rangnekar, "Having a Gujarati feed will not affect the viewership much.”

Some even question the profitability of starting a feed in so many regional languages.

"When Discovery started a feed in Hindi, its viewership experienced a huge leap. But now, if you notice, most of the audiences are attuned to watching infotainment channels in either Hindi or English. These two languages cover most of the TG. Having so many regional language feeds will not really make a difference in the ad market share," says Rangnekar.

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History TV18 plans to add two language feeds, boost rev

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