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IDOS 2014: Niche content to play a critical role in digitised era

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KOLKATA: With more consumers looking at content tailor-made for them and with TV consumption growing on multiple screens, niche content is likely to work as a pivotal differentiator in a digital universe. The viewership for special content has grown substantially, and with digitisation at a growing trajectory in the country, broadcasters with niche channels bet on the growth.

Speaking at a session titled ‘Specialised content and channels in the digital ecosystem’, at IDOS 2014, FoodFood CEO SK Raj Barua said, “TV penetration has reached the masses and the lifestyle category is improving. I think there is a lot of opportunity in terms of capacity in the next phases of digitisation. We see a great opportunity for us. With new media on the rise, demand for food content has gone up by more than 200 per cent.”

On the other hand Insync founder and managing director Ratish Tagde, a classical music channel, said: “There is a huge demand for classical music and the audience is looking for Sufi music. When we talk about niche channel, it is all about content. The digital era is likely to monetise content. There are many new platforms and niche content has a good future.”

Apart from FoodFood and Insync, A+E Networks is also slowly growing its footprint in the country. A+E Networks APAC VP sales and operations Saugato Banerjee said that the ability to create local content is main for niche channels. He added that A+E Networks, that operates with Network 18 in India, can’t depend on advertising and sales for everything it does. “Growing audience share is our target and there is a lot of optimism here,” he said.

While Videocon d2h deputy CEO Rohit Jain said that one needs to look at niche channels from an economic point of view. “If any new channel is launched in the market, we have to have the whole push model so that the customer gets a chance to see the content first. Every channel has its own audience base,” he said.

While AsiaSat, that leads in the satellite broadcasting and telecommunications sector in Asia Pacific region, believes the same what Indian broadcasters feel about niche channels. AsiaSat senior regional manager Paulus Chau said that the broadcasters are looking at launching more channels. “We are also looking at the opportunity because regulation is India is not simple,” he said.

Scripps Networks, a US-based media company, specialising in lifestyle content like food, home and travel categories, is evaluating its strategy in Asia and India. Scripps managing director APAC Derek Chang said that India is a huge market for the company as compared to other markets. He hinted that Scripps might look at the Indian market for launching its niche content related to lifestyle. “It could translate into partnerships. It depends on how we see the potential market. It has its own characteristics and challenges,” he said.



 

All the panelists agreed that niche content providers have to invest in the content and said the broadcasters have to understand that niche in India has various definitions considering the national and regional clients.

While talking about the challenges faced by the channels, Barua said that carriage fees have gone up. “In the process, the business model has to be slightly different. We do research for content creation for particular people,” he said.

Tagde however felt that the niche channels involve too much of research and investment. “We are struggling with the issues of technology like reaching out to people overseas. The content is owned by us and we have to invest in marketing too. There is a hope that we will get support from distributors,” Tagde said.

Niche channels are not cheap to create: tremendous funds are needed to do research, and programming teams to implement concepts for informative channels.

While the digital world is changing phenomenally, a bouquet of channels, with some mainstream entertainment channels and other niche channels, will soon adapt to the change.

Viewership will be segmented leading to an increase in the number of niche channels.

Going niche is the future of television as it helps to target specific viewers and in terms of revenue generation from advertisers, it is much more focused.

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