Television

×

Cashing in on piety

https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/smartcrop_800x800/public/images/tv-images/2016/02/18/Aastha%20TV.jpg?itok=vji3S4H4

Commercial break en route to nirvana?

It may sound a mite odd, but for religious channels, which are picking up advertising slowly but steadily in the country, it is the sure route to fiscal salvation. Aparna Joshi gets the spiritual lowdown on it all. Aastha and Sanskar, the two channels that are running neck to neck in a race to get the devout eyeballs, have been attracting ads steadily for a few months now. While the bigger media planners are yet to sit up and notice these niche channels, viewership figures have been silently on the rise. Blame it on the global recession and the consequent surge in interest in matters philosophical, but spirituality on the tube is increasing in its appeal.

For one, the target group itself is shifting. "We are no longer perceived as the channel for the 40 plus," says Aastha COO Mathew Scaria. "With the introduction of yoga shows and programmes based on the Art of Living courses, our audience profile is now that of the C&S 4+ category," he says. The lengthy discourses, which Aastha started off with nearly 18 months ago, have given way to more locally relevant content, Scaria says.







Sudhanshu Maharaj - benefiting from TV spiritualism

Advertisers, sensing the change in viewer mood, have moved in for the kill. Brands like MDH spices, Kayam Churna, Videocon and varied jewelry stores appear regularly on the channel, which claims to have a reach of 18 million households in India.

Sanskar, the other spiritual channel that debuted two years ago in the country with a dedicated 24 hour programming, is more realistic when it comes to commercial survival. "We believe in operating on commercial principles, and giving advertisers value for money," says marketing director Dinesh Kabra. While Kabra is cagey about revealing viewership figures (while maintaining that 95 per cent of Mumbai is covered), he says his channel offers more viewer loyalty. "Our viewer is patient. You won't find him surfing channels even during the ad break," he says.

The channel is currently inundated with brands like Smyle, Videocon, Emami, Lux and Khaitan, lured by a low tariff of Rs 850 per 10 seconds. "Though we are not a highly packaged channel, we are slowly changing our profile to suit viewer tastes," he avers. The musical format of its shows makes it more palatable than heavy discourses, Kabra believes, leading to increased advertiser interest.

The trend of using TV to air spiritual discourses however, was started by pubcaster Doordarshan in the mid 1990s to fill up its vacant early morning slots. Private channels, who saw a TRP potential in the show, followed suit. Zee started with an hour of discourses in the morning, followed by Sony, etc, Sahara, ETV and Lashkara who all realised a winner in spiritual programming. Aastha and Sanskar entered the fray soon after. Each 30-minute programme has 18 (10 seconds each) FCT ad spots, with devotee sponsors lining up even to pay Rs 375,000 per month as fixed time booking. Celebrity speakers like Sudhanshu Maharaj command a reported viewership of nearly one billion, receiving fan mail from all corners of the globe. Advertisers are sure to smell a popular programme when they see one.

Initiative Media associate V-P Partha Ghosh however begs to differ. An Aastha or a Sanskar cannot match the reach a Zee or a Sony can offer, he believes. Apart from the opportunity of frequency that an advertiser looks for, the channel's image and content are major factors that decide advertiser interest. Advertising on niche spiritual channels is feasible only if it is part of a bouquet of channels, believes Ghosh. Sanskar is a stand alone channel and is not part of any bouquet. Aastha is marketed with sister music channel CMM and is able to cash in on the fact. Zee, which had contemplated starting its own spiritual channel Chakra in mid 2001, scrapped the concept midway.

Kabra rues the fact that Sanskar does not have a platform to enable it to market itself in a big way. Ghosh endorses the view. "To survive in the long run, these channels will need to tie up with a platform," he says.

Some of these channels have been trying other survival tactics as well.







Advertisers realise the potential of spiritual channels

Maharishi Veda Vision, which debuted in 1998, is beamed down from a network of eight satellites that service India and 26 other countries. MVV does not need to seek ads as it is backed by a huge network of organisations, products and services like ayurvedic products, arts and crafts, a housing finance corporation, publications and software. Aastha tries a similar track on a smaller scale, with an Aastha Trust having a paid membership.

Ghosh however, feels that spiritual channels have a target group of 22 to 45-year-olds, and although they may do well at certain times at certain places, they are unlikely to attract the larger brands. "They will definitely blip, but once in a while," he says. Kabra on the other hand is keen to ensure that the channel starts delivering returns by the fourth of fifth year of operations. Novel programming like recaps of all ads shown on Sanskar on 31 December 2001 has drawn enthusiastic response from viewers and advertisers alike, he says.

Aastha, which runs ads on a ROS (run-of-schedule) basis, also believes that acceptability levels are increasing among varied classes of viewers. A minimum of eight hours of original programming daily, interspersed with live telecasts of devotional events and a 60,000 hour strong software library are all being used to lure the viewer into watching more.

All set to join the plethora of religion-driven channels is Golden Age Television launching 14 April. The channel is promoted by a Chennai based religious group Human Upliftment Organisation (HUO). The channel claims to be the only completely non-denominational channel on air today. While Zee's ambitious plans to launch Chakra, a spiritual channel, were aborted in 2001, the Syro Malabar Church promoted Jeevan TV, another channel dedicated to 'protecting morality in society', has also made its appearance recently.

On Indian television, the crusades are just beginning. 

Latest Reads

https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/08/22/supreme.jpg?itok=HuH2GIiJ
NDTV interim CEO Suparna Singh resigns

MUMBAI: NDTV interim CEO Suparna Singh has resigned with immediate effect, the media firm informed in its BSE filings. “Suparna Singh has informed the company that she will step down from her responsibilities as Interim CEO with immediate effect,” NDTV said in a regulatory filing. “Pursuant to a...

Television TV Channels People
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/08/22/budwiser.jpg?itok=4WpkWJsL
Budweiser 0.0 partners with Star Sports for the 2019/20 season of the premier league

MUMBAI: With a proposition of being an ‘anyone, anywhere’ beverage, Budweiser 0.0 today announced an exclusive collaboration with Star Sports for the 2019/20 season of the Premier League. As part of this association, Budweiser 0.0, the newly introduced non-alcohol beer from the world’s leading...

Television TV Channels Sports
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/08/22/star.jpg?itok=onCIEU4A
Emmy nominated series Pose all set to premiere on Star World

MUMBAI: India’s leading English entertainment channel, Star World, is synonymous with the best television content from around the world. Star-studded, critically acclaimed and audience favourite shows with intricate plotlines and an all-around superior viewing experience has consistently been the...

Television TV Channels English Entertainment
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/08/22/man-vs.jpg?itok=zEM0lGx5
‘Man Vs Wild with Bear Grylls & Prime Minister Modi’ emerges as the TV show of the year

MUMBAI: The special edition of Discovery’s iconic and hugely popular franchise ‘Man Vs Wild’ featuring Prime Minister Modi with world-renowned survivalist and adventurer, Bear Grylls, lived up to its billing to emerge as the TV show of the year. The premiere on Discovery Network (across 12...

Television TV Channels Factual
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/08/22/NDTV.jpg?itok=BtXj4PHZ
CBI books NDTV promoters for FDI violations: report

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has booked promoters of news channel NDTV, Prannoy Roy, Radhika Roy, former CEO and director Vikram Chandra and some Income Tax officials on charges of conspiracy, cheating and corruption. They are being accused of allegedly violating FDI rules between 2004...

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/08/21/gudiya.jpg?itok=cEd_MYqJ
&TV presents ‘Gudiya Humari Sabhi Pe Bhari’, a light-hearted drama of an ordinary girl with an extraordinary outlook

MUMBAI: Through its differentiated and disruptive brand point-of-view, &TV has crafted stories and characters that our viewers strongly connect to and enjoy. Keeping this core thought in mind, &TV is all set to present a fresh and homegrown narrative with the strong local flavour, Gudiya...

Television TV Channels Movie Channels
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/08/21/election.jpg?itok=_aBpysjA
These were India's top 5 News & Information sites on General Election Results Day

MUMBAI: The 2019 Indian general elections result day,  i.e. May 23rd  2019 was  judgement day for news and  information media across the country, as  media outlets touched their annual peak traffic, both in terms of traffic and  subsequent ad revenues.

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/08/21/nick.jpg?itok=Zjj8cml7
Nickelodeon celebrates SpongeBob SquarePants’ 20th birthday

MUMBAI: Nickelodeon - India’s leading kids entertainment franchise boasts of some of the beloved classic shows in its line-up and one such iconic character is celebrating his 20th birthday. Yes, you heard that right! This year marks the 20th birthday of Nickelodeon’s most renowned and beloved...

Television TV Channels Kids
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/08/21/andflix.jpg?itok=MX9i3HLF
Two Premieres in one day. for the love of canines! celebrate international dog day as &flix premieres A.X.L. and A Dog’s Way Home for the perfect Sunday-entertainer

MUMBAI: The faithful companion who’s always there by your side, especially in times of need. The best friend you've always yearned for. Nothing compares to the unbreakable bond between a man and his dog. In a lead up to International Dog Day &flix, the destination of the biggest Hollywood hits...

Television TV Channels English Entertainment

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories