Television

Epic to celebrate one year mark with better programming

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MUMBAI: In the entertainment world abound with clutter, niche television channels have to fight an uphill battle in order to get the necessary traction from viewers. As the Indian cable and satellite industry slowly but surely moves towards digital addressable systems (DAS), more and more niche channels will be viable with digitisation cutting distribution costs.

 

One such niche channel that’s in it for the long haul, is The Epic Channel, which is on the brink of completing a year on air. Launched on 19 November, 2014, The Epic Channel will be celebrating its first anniversary by offering two news shows to its viewers. What’s more the channel also went High Definition (HD) on the Tata Sky DTH platform recently.

 

The first new finite show, which will go on air from 19 October is titled Khwaabon Ka Safar with Mahesh Bhatt and will be aired on Mondays at 10 pm. 

 

The second show is titled Devlok by popular Indian author Devdutt Pattanaik and will be an exploration of gods, demons, curses. Set to premiere on 21 October, this will be aired on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10 pm.

 

Speaking exclusively to Indiantelevision.com, The Epic Channel founder and MD Mahesh Samat said, “We have a rich film history and with Khwaabon Ka Safar, we are looking at the big film studios in the industry, which have some history attached to it. And I think Mahesh Bhatt is the best person to narrate these stories. He has been in the industry for a long time now and knows the industry inside out. Another show that we have in the pipeline is Devdutt Pattanaik’s show Devlok in which he will talk about mythology.”

 

Claiming its hold over the 10 pm slot is the channel’s campaign with the tagline - ‘Maaf Kijiye Abhi Dus Nahin Baje.’ “The campaign is doing quite well to claim the 10 pm TV viewing time to establish the association between the Epic Channel and the time slot,” Samat says.

 

In a span of one year, the channel has enthralled audiences with epic mythological and historical series. Showcasing the mythology and history in a contemporary form has been the channel's agenda.

 

Stories by Rabindranath Tagore showcasing ‘epic’ tales like Choker Bali, Charulata, Atithi andKabuliwala amongst others brought etched characters created by Tagore to the small screen. Also the channel was seen recollecting old Bollywood stars in a nostalgic show set up with Javed Akhtar.

 

With increasing penetration of HD television sets, more and more channels are now adding the HD feed to offer better consumer experience. Talking about the same, Samat says, “We have always been an HD channel. The idea was to launch the stories around Indian history and mythology in HD. All our shows have been produced and shot in HD. Our channel is uplinked and downlinked in HD. For various technical reasons, some MSOs transfer the channel differently, but from our end the strategy is to be one feed HD channel. The HD experience is necessary for the kind of shows we produce.”

 

Stressing on how HD shows will change the way television is viewed in the country, Samat says, “The technology has evolved to meet consumers’ expectations. HD is definitely a better viewing experience and HD shows will change the way we watch television in India. We are likely to see an upsurge of HD in the coming year. From a consumer stand point, it is a far better experience so there is really no reason not to have HD.” 

 

With The Epic Channel HD feed, Samat is also hoping that the channel will see an increase in the number of viewers due to the addressability factor.

 

“I think the experience of mythological and all the great fiction and non-fiction viewing would be much better, which will result into more and more viewers coming in. I believe we are going to see increase in numbers of viewers as Epic is assessable in HD. A hike in advertising rates will eventually follow with a rise in viewership,” he informs.

 

The Epic Channel has seen a lot of advertising interest from the automobiles sector amongst others. “More than viewership, we are a channel that reaches across the country and hence we have that reach. With HD, we are moving one step ahead in our target group, so we expect to see ad rates following the same,” asserts Samat.

 

On the eve of the channel’s one year of operations, Samat shares the journey so far as well as the company’s future vision. “The overall journey has been pretty good. It’s a channel that delivered all the promises that were made in the beginning of the year in terms of stories and content. There is a new range of programming coming up from 19 October. We are pretty optimistic that in the next few months, higher viewership and ad sales will follow,” he says.

 

The value of niche television channels is derived from the quality of viewers and not the size. Phase I & II of DAS is what enabled a niche like The Epic Channel to launch in the country. “The success of the first two phases of digitisation is what enabled a large number of channels to pull in viewers. Without it we would not have been able to launch Epic. So digitisation has played a vital role in the launch of the channel. Also, as digitisation continues, consumers will become more and more demanding and we will see a lot more content differentiation,” he says.

 

Samat is of the opinion that with Phase III & IV of DAS, the industry is looking for transparency as well as having a better understanding of revenue stream and visibility. “All the good things associated with digitisation are exciting for the entire industry and not only for the broadcaster,” he adds.

 

Not wanting to comment on the specifics of ratings and viewership, Samat says that overall The Epic Channel has received a good response from the industry as well as from viewers. “The channel has established a position in the mind of the consumers and eventually we have added a brand to the television ecosystem in India,” he signs off.

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