Tarun Katial's big magic with Big Ganga

MUMBAI: A takeover is in progress. Yet, that is not getting in the way of television veteran Tarun Katial. For him, it is business as usual.

The CEO of Reliance Broadcast Networks Ltd, who cut his teeth as a media professional in the early part of his career, is pleased as punch. The reason: RBNL's lead channel Big Ganga continues to flow on its charted course -- that of being the leader in the Bihar, Jaharkand region. It has the highest share of 37 per cent of the viewership in the region  (source: BARC. Period: wk02'17-wk05'17, Market: Bihar & Jharkhand).

And what's more -- in a short span of six months, the channel has notched up a whopping growth of 19 per cent in viewership (August 2016 – Jan 2017).

“We have created a unique proposition in Ganga which is a regional channel among the Hindi-speaking market which actually taps in to a very large segment of population that did not have enough to connect with," says Katial. “Big Ganga is very differentiated channel,” he added.

For starters, its prime time is different from other channels; as is the scheduling, reveals Katial. "Our biggest prime time is early morning. The biggest peg that works in that market is faith," he points out. "We have devotional bands which are rated very well. Then, we have very big prime time on weekends where we have reality shows that connect with the audience. If you see the rating contribution that’s not how it works. Devotional contributes probably the best, weekend contributes next, and then we have (the traditional) prime time. Where the eyes are, that is the prime time.”

And that's shored up by numbers too. Nine out of the top 10 shows in regional viewership are from the Big Ganga portfolio. Shows such as Birha Dangal, Big Memsaab, Rasoi Ki Rani and Bhakti Samrat are its major audience pullers and are homegrown assets.

“We have about 50 per cent of market share. And, every quarter, we have a  big reality show that fuels the aspiration of that region,” explains Katial.

He is quick to point out that the channel has also been one of the big beneficiaries of the growing clout and geographical spread  of the state-owned FreeDish.  "The rural market is very deeply penetrated by DD FreeDish and you cannot deny that. I think when urban market was being measured, we were doing very well there, and when the rural market started getting measured we realised that there big element of FreeDish, we got that into our plan and included that into our distribution line-up."

That has helped the RBNL team to monetise the channel effectively, especially from the ad revenue front.

"Our pricing has gone up significantly over the past year as we do offer 30-40 per cent of additional coverage than any other Hindi GEC in that market," expresses Katial. "Bihar is one of the highest GDP growth markets in the country. So, the advertisers look at us as the unique standalone regional option to invest. There are two kinds advertisers  looking for additional reach in Bihar out of the HSM or looking only at Bihar because that’s their priority market.  My pitch to the fence sitter advertiser is: TV is deeply penetrated now and there are numbers which are comparable with print and the CPT looks far better and more efficient with TV."

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