“Romedy Now is content agnostic!”

MUMBAI: With niche, infotainment channels getting more adventurous in terms of content, it may no longer surprise viewers to catch ‘The Walking Dead’ on Fox Traveller or ‘Da Vinci’s Demons’ on National Geographic Channel. Joining this group is Romedy Now, which at the time of its launch aired romantic comedies but will now be getting into all sorts of content; series, fiction or reality.

“Romedy Now is content agnostic and not necessarily film-centric,” Times Television Network CEO English Entertainment Channels, Ajay Trigunayat, told during a recent interview. “Romedy Now can play series, movies; fiction, non-fiction and short-formats. We are open to anything, and we have a programming slate that will unveil itself in the next few months. It is very radical from the way TV approaches business. We aim to make the consumer a part of our scheme. If something falls under one’s wants, needs and desires, one will consume it. In our consumer segmentation, we found that the consumer is still the same consumer.”

But weren’t ‘love and laughter’ the original peg of the channel? Trigunayat explained that since Romedy Now was the first of its kind, they decided to latch on to the two most basic human values to make the channel a unique destination. “The two basic values like love and laughter have become latent. They have become ignored aspects of life. When everyone is chasing a professional life, it is affecting their relationships with their friends and family and their own health. Love and laughter has a unique connection. If a girl was given a choice between a rich man and a witty man, she would probably choose the one with a great sense of humour but she will be tempted to choose wealth. It becomes endearing for a viewer to follow such chronicles and love the characters and laugh at them, and indirectly live their lives. ‘Love, Laugh, Live’ is not just the tagline of our channel, it is the basic mantra we abide by,” he said.

Trigunayat went on to clarify that even when they first decided to launch Romedy Now, the plan was to start airing series followed by films. “Airing of series and many other content formats was always the blueprint of the channel. Just that series including Witches of East End slated to premiere in the fall, got delayed to January and Friends with Better Lives (FWBL) scheduled to premiere in January got pushed to late March. That’s why the channel had to start with movies and later telecast the proposed series alongside the existing programmes as they went along,” informed Trigunayat.

Romedy Now plans to soon launch two new comedies - 1600 Penn, and Back in the Game - in addition to Kitchen Confidential, Ally McBeal, Witches of East End and FWBL and is in negotiations to acquire new content plus library content.

On the subject of marketing and distribution, Trigunayat said, “Right now, we have two major marketing properties that we are focusing on viz., ‘Sunny Sundays’ and ‘Thank God it’s Friday’ (TGIF). We plan to launch five more similar properties in the next quarter. We are in negotiations with some major television networks, and expect to close the deal by the end of next month.”

When asked about advertisers, Trigunayat said the channel had about 50 clients on board including telecom services like Airtel. “We are a highly premium channel and expect a good return. Across all five channels of the Times Group, we rely heavily on print advertising. When we first started our digital distribution, there were still a few analogues to be dealt with, but they are rapidly declining and digital is growing now. If there is no analogue, there shouldn’t be any carriage fees, ergo we are not paying a carriage fee,” he said.

The total advertising revenue across English movies and English GEC’s is Rs 500 crore with an additional Rs 400 crore coming in as subscription revenue. Going by GroupM and Madison forecasts, the category is expected to garner more than Rs 1,000 crore in FY 15 in advertising, subscription and miscellaneous revenues.

Romedy Now is available with multi system operators (MSOs) like Hathway, DEN, Incable, Manthan in the east and ICC in Pune. It is also available across major DTH operators except Tata Sky. Currently, Romedy Now is concentrating on eight metros and intends to expand in the next 12 to 14 months.

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