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History TV18 plans to add two language feeds, boost rev

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MUMBAI: History TV18, a joint venture between A+E Networks and TV18, is targeting to launch two more language feeds as it expects a wider regional presence will give it an edge over competitors and boost its ad revenues.

The factual entertainment channel already has a presence in seven languages, the only one in this genre to have such a wider regional spread. A few days back, History TV18 announced the launch of its Gujarati feed – the others being Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Hindi and English.

“While we are looking at two more language feeds, the size of the market is key as it has to make economic sense,” said AETN-18 JV GM marketing Sangeetha Aiyer.

The drive is to offer advertisers a choice. “The business model for the regional feeds is not distribution but to grow ad revenue by increasing yields. The yields in the industry are low at Rs 1800-2200 per 10 second spot for the tier one channels and Rs 800-1200 for the tier two channels in this genre. Our aim is to take the effective yield up to Rs 2500-3000. Our focus is on brands that do national campaigns. But at the same time regional brands that want a national presence will also find us useful,” averrd Aiyer.

There is also the viewership perspective in this approach. Said programming VP Sudheer KG, “In the factual genre, things are explained and sometimes explanations in English are beyond the comprehension of regional viewers. That is why History had launched regional feeds at the start.”

So how effective is this regional plan? Explains Aiyer, “The JV has given itself a three-year break-even time frame for the channel, keeping in mind that this genre dependends heavily on advertising. For the regional feeds, a four to six week period is needed to show clients consistency in delivery. We already have around 60 clients including Maruti, Volkswagen, Amul, Sony and Samsung.”

The viewership is skewed towards males. Sixty per cent of the viewers are men and out of this, most are in the age group 15-40, according to Aiyer.

Around 50 per cent of the channel’s viewership comes from the Hindi feed. “Apart from the North belt, even people in Hyderabad and Bangalore watch it in Hindi. After that, comes Marathi and Tamil. The size of the Maharashtra market is big while people also consume the channel a lot in Tamil. After these languages, come the others like English,” said Sudheer.

Sudheer admitted that Gujarat is a tough market as there are few multi-system operators. “We are the first international channel to offer a local language feed in Gujarati. We are, thus, hopeful that they will see us as offering value. We get inquiries from people who want to carry us. Gujaratis watch news, GECs and movies. But the reason why infotainment has not penetrated there much is that content was not available in their language,” he said.

What is needed for the regional feeds? “For our regional feeds, we don’t do translation. We do transcreation. This means communicating to viewers in a simple way so that they understand what is happening. When they understand what is happening, they will return again and again to watch. This is how viewership grows as they spend more time on us. On all our regional feeds we have executive producers and language managers who work with studios,” said Sudheer.

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