Television

Colors' gung-ho digital strategy

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Send in your tweets to @ColorsTV, be a part of a Facebook contest, stand a chance to win an iPad, tweet away your views with #Jhalak..#Madhubala. Watch Colors live, maximum You Tube hits. #ThisIsTHEchannel WithanAdmirableOnlineStrategy.

Well, the crux of this story is just that. Colors, Viacom18‘s maiden Hindi general entertainment channel (GEC), which has carved a commendable place for itself in a very short span of time, is a channel with a massive digital presence. Hence, taking our digital series forward (read the previous stories on Sony and Star Plushere), we take you through this interactive journey of the very dynamic Colors, presenting awe inducing figures, highlighting the ever increasing online fan communities and much more...

The official Facebook page of Colors has an overwhelming 1.88 million likes with more than 100,000 active fans. While the channel keeps its official page up-to-date with galleries and snippets of upcoming episodes, it also links the platform to the official pages of its various shows. The official page of its popular fiction dailies likeMadhubala: Ek Ishq Ek Junoon and Balika Vadhu have garnered 0.48 million and 0.43 million likes respectively. Among non-fiction shows, Bigg Boss Season 6‘s official page boasts of 0.16 million likes, whereas, the recently launched Season 6 of popular celebrity dance reality show Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa has already garnered 0.1 million likes.

Colors contstantly updates its Facebook profile for its 1.88 million plus fans with teasers, pictures and snippets

Apart from the official pages, Colors has gained immense popularity through the numerous fan driven pages of its hot-selling properties. The upcoming season of Bigg Boss already has a fan page featuring more than 22,000 likes, while the previous season‘s fan page figures around 0.29 million likes. But the show which seems to have broken all records is the very popular Vivian Dsena - Drashti Dhami starrer Madhubala-Ek Ishq Ek Junoon, produced by Nautanki Films. The love-hate relationship of the lead protagonist has definitely captured the imagination of the TV viewing audience. There are more than 100 Facebook Fan pages dedicated to the show with some registering more than 60,000 likes. Well, if that‘s not impressive, what will be?

In a world where news is being replaced by a tweet of 140 characters, soap plots are tweaked according to fan tweets. Twitter enables instant reactions and feedback and Colors makes the most of this platform. With more than 81,000 followers and around 16,000 tweets, the official twitter handle of the channel (@ColorsTV) is a buzzing place. Every few minutes, the handle buzzes with tweets and re-tweets. Every couple of days, the channel also launches interactive contests to engage with its fans. Recently, @ColorsTV awarded an iPad among other goodies to winners of the #Jhalak contest. The success of the Twitter launch of Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa can be gauged from the fact that the official hash-tag was trending all over India for nearly three consecutive days and also in UK and US for some time.

It takes a person like Vivek to spearhead the digital revolution at Colors

Colors Digital Head Vivek Srivastava asserts: "Our effort on social media is to start and manage conversations and we have some very good brands on both fiction and non-fiction which help our cause. Just to give you an example Colors properties trended 51 times at all India level in the last financial year."

For a general entertainment channel, the video uploads drive maximum traffic and for the same purpose, Colors launched its official YouTube channel in June 2008 and has since uploaded around 18,300 videos. The YouTube channel has 0.2 million loyal subscribers and a magnanimous count of around 149 million video views so far.

On an average, every Colors upload garners more than 20,000 video views within a couple of days. Here as well, popular properties like MadhubalaBalika VadhuJhalak and Bigg Bossgarner average views as high as 85,000, 40,000, 50,000 and 45,000 respectively. The wedding special episodes of Madhubalaalso recorded views as high as 0.16 million. Besides, the much promoted grand premiere of Jhalak was uploaded in 33 videos, each video garnering thousands of video views.

Srivastava informs: "The episodes are uploaded within a couple of hours of the show going on-air, however we create specific content for the internet and mobile which goes beyond catch-up for episode. This is primarily aimed at engagement, if there is a Colors fan intending to know more, discuss or comment on our shows, we have to facilitate it."

The mainstay platform of Colors has web exclusive content, photo galleries, polls and much more

Such a comprehensive digital presence is further topped by the official website of Colors- www.colors.in.com. This is the mainstay platform of the channel as it aims to use all its other platforms to drive traffic towards the website. It is the hub of all online activities for the channel with web exclusive content created especially for it along with live streaming, picture gallery and video uploads, trends and show trivia. What more, the channel has been successful in generating 100 million page views last year. "We have a very strong offering in colors.in.com a website which goes beyond just catch-up TV. There is news, videos, behind the scene, interviews, discussions, special content, live streaming and much more; the effort is to feed an ardent Colors fan with as much information as possible," Srivastava elaborates.

The question which hits our mind is whether the website delivers on the huge investment? Srivastava is very clear in his answer: "Yes, we are investing in it heavily. For a content heavy platform like Colors where we own most of the IP of our content, it‘s important to have own destinations and build traction for them from a long term perspective. YouTube, Facebook, twitter and other such platforms serve as media vehicles to best engage with our consumers and monetisation of our content, since most of these platforms have huge audience bases we put significant effort on them as well."

Colors targets all social media platforms and also boasts of ‘web exclusive‘ content. All in all, it has done it all- from having an official Facebook page to an active twitter handle; from one of the largest YouTube portals to the very interactive colors.in.com

Why so much of social networking? What was the driving force for this aggressive online strategy? The digital head reasons: "Viewers are viewing, sharing, blogging and tweeting TV content. Consumers are willing rather eager to engage with their favourite shows and characters outside the silver screen. We realise this need, these serve as great conversation starters and opinion builders. It's important that we are present wherever our consumers are seeking us, and wherever possible channelise conversations to positively impact the brands."

An interesting aspect of GECs online is the apt usage of archived content. A lot of older episodes of popular properties as well as popular shows that have gone off air, get a considerable amount of traction. "Blockbuster content from any era gets traction, 1000 episodes down we still have viewers watching initial episode of Balika Vadhu and Uttaran. Obviously the shows on-air will get higher traction but there is always a market for classic content," adds Srivastava.

Madhubala seems to set precedents for the rest of the fiction shows with more than 100 Facebook fan-driven pages

In terms of genres, some non-fiction properties like Bigg Boss stand out because of the nature of the property and its ability to start conversations. But at an overall level both fiction and non-fiction gets equal traction.

The virtual world of Colors is not restricted to your laptop and desktop, the channel has very impressively targeted mobile as well. It all began with the launch of the Bigg Boss app which allowed viewers to watch all that is happening inside the house at any given time. The 24/7 live streaming app became an instant success and got the Bigg Boss fanatics hooked to their cell phones.

Today, Colors is taking the app world very seriously with the launch of the Jhalak app. This has a play along feature allowing the viewers to play real time along with the original telecast of the show. Apart from this, one can participate in quizzes about the show, vote for their contestants, watch videos, express your views on social platform etc all through one app.

Srivastava further explains: "People today are using multiple screens - laptops, smart phones, tablets etc and multiple platforms - the video sites, the social networks, Apps, Games etc to access content. Although, the numbers are small especially when compared to the reach TV as a medium provides, however the growth and engagement the medium provides is phenomenal."

Does he see then a profound shift from desktops to tablets very soon? "Tablets and mobiles are becoming important as the second screen, however the consumption is varied, most of video consumption is catch-up in case you have missed an episode or a highpoint," he further adds: "The bigger hook is exclusive content, viewers want to interact with their favourite stars, know more about their off screen personalities, behind the scenes, news, views, interactions, sometimes even spoilers. We ensure both these are present in equal proportion on our digital platforms."

Episode videos are uploaded within 2 hours of the telecast. Popular shows get more than 80000 average video views per episode

On that note, one has to but, wonder about this new-found lucrative source of revenue for the channel. How does the channel use this space in order to monetise? Srivastava reveals: "For a broadcaster, advertising and subscription revenues still contribute the maximum. However, revenues from digital platform have been exhibiting significant growth. Majority chunk of the revenue still comes from Linear and VOD content, then there is WAP, Voice, Gaming etc all of which exhibit positive numbers if you have the right offering."

In that case, is it time that GECs start taking the digital platform seriously from the revenue generation point of view? "Without commenting on the numbers the digital revenues have been showcasing a healthy growth YOY and as penetration of internet and accessibility to smart devices increases over the next few years we anticipate a bullish trend."

Television broadcasting is going through a metamorphosing phase, what with the TAM rating fiasco and the impending AD cap regulation. Talks about reducing dependence on advertising revenues is becoming the part of every discussion. In such a scenario, is there a possibility of subscription revenues from this rapidly growing online medium? "The Subscription market on both Internet and mobile is evolving. As models become stronger and penetration increases subscription revenues will start contributing more," states Srivastava.

All in all, Colors has definitely created an everlasting place for itself on the digital platform. Who are these who have created this dynamic virtual reality? On prodding Srivastava answers: "We have full fledged team looking after content creation, SEO, SEM for all platforms - social media, Colors website, Internet and mobile."

Whoever you knight in shining armours are, you have surely left an imprint in this ever evolving online space. Way to go!

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