your hands, just touching the navel...
Very slowly take your hands straight up.
Slowly close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing.
Teen. breathe in and breathe out
saffron dhoti clad yoga guru goes on; as panting viewers
settle down on their mats in front of the idiot box.
Live reality programming? This is as real as it can
Importantly, this is not a one-off activity. It's
appointment viewing with a whole lot devotion!
are millions of viewers across the country seeking
salvation via the tube. In an angst driven and time-pressed
society, viewers are lapping up the best of what the
spiritual channels have to offer. Whether its just
about feel-good satsangs, tips on healthy living or
just about listening to their favourite bhajans.
A few years ago, there were just a few of them and
they were referred to as the bhajan and kirtan channels.
Now there are many more - there is Aastha, Sanskar,
Sadhana, Jagran, GodTV , Miraclenet and QTV, to name
the better known ones.
And as the channels consolidate their positioning
as a separate genre; they've been setting new rules
to the game. Though critics cry themselve hoarse about
"polarising the masses on the basis of religion,"
the channels continue to churn out programmes with
a devout sense of aastha (devotion).
Gearing for the kill, the channels are strategizing
their content to suit the requirements of the changing
audience. Now, its not at all about reaching out to
the older viewers - the programming cuts across not
just TGs but even countries.
its not just about satsangs or religious programmes
but ranges from a mix of health shows, lifestyle programming,
religious tourism, art and culture or for that matter
even live reality programming. Some like Aastha are
reaching out to the NRI audience across the world;
while Jagran is looking at getting the younger audiences
into the loop.
Market analysts say as the expanding genre has brought
in a certain paradigm shift in the way the whole business
is being conducted. The first one being that there
is a certain vertical stickiness to the programmes;
devout viewers who tune in at six in the morning normally
remain clued for at least two to three hours as the
other programmes follow. And the programmes remain
a mix of anytime viewing as also appointment viewing.
the viewer remains king even when it comes to the
placement of ads. Additionally, since viewers do not
really like advertisements in between programmes the
channels prefer sponsored programmes. And keeping
in mind the character of the programming, advertisements
of certain products like shoe wear, liquor or tobacco
are not accepted.
of now, the channels mostly bank on original content,
but produced in-house. This keeps the whole activity
a low cost exercise. The advertising rates range from
Rs 150-200 or Rs 550 to 1000 depending on the type
of the programming. Apart from this there are other
sources of revenue, one being the teleshopping business
which marketers tap for ayurvedic or health products.
understand the growing genre we took a look at the
current channels in the market.
TAM Media Research TG: 4+
Markets: All India Period: 17/4/05 to 14/5/05
Mehta CMD-CEO Aastha channel: "Spiritual channels
are not just about religious programming, but cover
a whole lot of other things ranging from health shows
to tourist places or going places from Kashmir to
Gangotri for yatras. We have been evolving in terms
of our content and viewers have been lapping it up
from day one."
channel, which is available on cable as well as the
DTH platform claims a viewership of 24 million. Currently,
the channel is heavily concentrating on distributing
itself worldwide. Says Mehta, "We have a loyal
viewership for all our programmes but the most popular
one is the session of Ramdevji Maharaj. In fact, he's
the KBC of my channel commanding a very high
Apart from this, the channel has some other entertaining
programmes like Aastha Antakshari. And is also
in the process of doing a series on the enchanting
temples of Tamil Nadu to bring out the intracacies
of temple architecture.
As of now the advertisers on Aastha include
- Reliance, Amritdhara, Lavanya institute, Surya Bulbs
and Tubes et like we are doing an enchanting temples
of Tamil Nadu where we bring out even the intracies
of temple architecture."
Kihore Mohatta, director Sanskar: "Since the
time we launched two years ago there has been a gradual
change in the attitude of media planners. It's an
irony of sorts that on our channel the time spent
by viewers is very high and its all about loyal appointment
viewing. And sometimes this is the reason that advertisers
worry whether viewers will watch the ads."
few years ago some of the advertisers did not want
to be on religious channels. But this has now changed
and so has the programming. Our bent is not religious
but spiritual in terms of the treatment."
of the now the channel claims it's reaching out to
more than 12 million people And has names like Videocon,
Shri Cement, Reliance, Ajanta, Anchor, Lux & Emami
amongst a total of 43 brands.
channel concentrates on making in-house original bhajans
which constitute a large part of their innovative
programming. Some of the other important brand names
are Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Sadhu Vaswani amongst others.
The channel is very strong in the hardcore Hindi belt
and getting ready to gear up for the Southern market.
Says Mohatta, "It's not just the viewers who
are loyal but even the advertisers, who are with us
for the year long. Also, there has been a change in
the way the genre is being perceived. Earlier on the
belief was that the game is all about getting sadhus.
No one was concentrating on creating content. But
now times have changed and we in fact create more
than thre to four original bhajan & kirtans a
Head- Anil Anand: "The channel which has been
around for the last one and half years is now in a
re-positioned itself as a socio-spiritual channel.
It has adopted the secular route to religion and offers
a mix of Gurbani, Koran, Bible - Lifestyle spiritual
programming, talk shows as well as films."
"Though a spiritual channel it has to make good
business sense. And the best way to do that is to
take the channel ahead towards the youth. Afterall,
large MNCs and other advertisers are not too keen
to look at the older generation. So, we're trying
to take the channel forward by introducing "
The advertisers on the channel are Ashok Masala,
Black Rose Ayur Herbal, MDH, Divinity - God based
now, in a makeover mode, the channel will adorn a
new look with a number of new programmes and innovative
channel packaging, this year. The channel has lined
up some popular spiritual mystics and guru's that
include Shri Sathya Sai Baba, Osho , Shri Ravi Shanker,
Murari Bapu, BramhaKumaris, Guru Maa, Mridul Krishanji,
Shri S.N. Goenka. The. The new programs that are being
introduced this month are Flavours of Faith, a program
that showcases glimpses of teachings of all religions
- The Gita, The Holy Bible, The Guru Granth Sahib
and The Holy Quran.
a lighter vein, it has a daily feed of humour with
Osho Jokes, apart from the lifestyle programming like
Vastu, Feng Shui, Food, Health, Alternate Lifestyle
etc. A separate program on the life and the teachings
of Gautam Buddha is lined up that will narrate stories
from the life of Buddha and highlight his teachings
in an applicative way along with simple meditation
techniques. Other weekly programs to be on air soon
include "The Tarot Show" hosted by
the International Tarot reader Nancy Sood, a call
in program that answers to viewer questions online.
To top it all, the channel has broadened the scope
of its film library and added some legendary titles,
that are lined up for telecast this summer. A few
of them are socio-patriotic greats of their time -
Shaheed (old), Saransh, Eeshwar, Upkaar,
Purab aur Paschim, Shaheed Bhagat Singh (new)
and more. With a strong backing From the Zee library
the channel also has lined up a few religious movies.
Currently the channel is available on the DTH platform
and is trying to concentrate on creating customized
pay content on the web.
TV has been broadcasting in India since 2003. It is
headquartered in Chennai. The channel is the brainchild
of Rory and Wendy Alec and was founded in 1993. Besides
the Indian channel there are four other channels -
two channels in England (God 1 and God 2), one in
Africa and one that is webcast to reach more people.
GodTV claims to offer a new breed of international
Christian programming, including cutting-edge conferences,
in depth interviews and youth and music shows, featuring
prominent Christian leaders and artists from around
the world. One of its popular shows is The Messenger
with John & Lisa Bevere.
Miraclenet also launched in 2002. the channel's tagline
is 'A Move to God'. The network was created by Trinity
Broadcasting Network (TBN). The word of the gospel
is spread by preachers like Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland.
The attraction is the promise of health and wealth
as the divine right of every believer, backed by the
confident appearance of fidelity to the Bible.
These preachers subscribe to what is called Word-Faith
Theology. This teaches that faith is a power or force
that can the tapped in order to get whatever you want
pic from: www.nepalihimal.com
Ravi Shankar's pic from: www.artofliving.de
Sudhanshuji's pic from: www.tribuneindia.com