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Infotainment went the local way in 2018

Channels also launched regional variants of their main Hindi feeds.

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MUMBAI: In 2018, the one common phenomenon that the whole television industry witnessed was the hijack and capture of part of its territory by OTT platforms wooing audiences with original content. That was the time when TV space woke up to secure its presence and fill in the gaps with localised content where it required the most. One of the genres that decided to focus on localising content was infotainment.

There were days when only syndicated content was the staple of the broadcasters to survive in the market. The year 2018 finally saw their efforts paying off as viewers stayed glued to their TV screens. Original content broke all the walls by wanting the audiences to have more of it. However, the FICCI M&E report 2018 estimated  that BARC’s enhanced rural panel weightage would reduce the viewership of genres like infotainment. The factual genre occupies only about one per cent of total TV consumption.

Players like Discovery, History TV18, National Geographic, Nat Geo Wild, Epic TV and Sony BBC Earth rolled up their sleeves with the intent to stay out of the box by offering self-produced content, keeping in mind the evolving taste buds of the Indian audiences. It is usually tricky to change audiences’ viewing habits when they have forever been fed with a plethora of syndicated content. But during the year, there came a time when Sony BBC Earth leapfrogged Discovery in terms of ratings, that was ruling the infotainment genre for almost a decade, within a year of its launch. The channel increased its market share from 22 per cent to 26 per cent in the six metro cities.

It was a tough competition for both Sony BBC and Discovery channel that fought sportingly to win the battle and emerge as the dominant player in the market. Speaking about being on the leadership front, Discovery claimed to enjoy a 23 per cent market share in the All India Urban (2+) area.

In an earlier interview, Sony Pictures Network English cluster business head Tushar Shah told Indiantelevision.com that the category which is supposed to be informative along with entertainment in it is missing the first half. But for Sony BBC Earth, the rise from the sixth position to the top has been quick. Sony BBC Earth stood at 5 per cent market share at launch and took up 22 per cent within a year backed by a strong distribution network, strategic content line-up and strong marketing innovations.

One major move was the shift of Epic from a general entertainment channel (GEC) to infotainment. It proved to be a success as the channel’s market share scaled up from 3 per cent to 15 per cent. History TV18 also dived into serving local content.

The genre wasn’t just about the hindi speaking market, in fact, it observed an upward arc due to regional support as well. Broadcasters found Tamil and Telugu as viable regional languages to launch into. Discovery and National Geographic channels are the only exceptions having Bengali language in their kitty. Epic TV is the only one with Hindi language. It is also the only channel that has all India-centric content while the rest of the players have a mix of syndicated content and home-grown shows. If you take into account Discovery Tamil, the channel's share of the pie grew by four per cent. That placed the Discovery network miles ahead of anyone else with a national market share of a massive 42 per cent.

As far as Adex is concerned, the year 2017 led to a growth of 1.8 per cent, whereas it led to 1.9 per cent during FY18. Moreover the growth in the year FY17-18 was witnessed to be 2.38 per cent and the lifestyle genre dropped down to 2.24 per cent.

While local content will continue to be a major part of broadcasters' move for 2019 as well, we can only wait and watch what new innovations will they launch to engage a larger section of the audience.

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