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Monetising Ishara is the primary focus in next few quarters: Aditya Pittie

In terms of marketing and promotions, maximum resources are allocated to TV slots.

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MUMBAI: In September 2016, Anand Mahindra-owned television channel Epic roped in Pittie Group CEO Aditya Pittie as its managing director. Since then, the Anand Mahindra-and Pittie-promoted IN10 Media has expanded – from television (Epic), to OTT platforms (Epic On and Docubay), and even a production house (Juggernaut) in its kitty.

After establishing its linear broadcast channels in their respective genres, Epic, Filamchi, Gubbare and ShowBox, the In10 Media Network is all set to foray into the Hindi GEC market with Ishara. Five original shows debuting as part of the channel’s inaugural line-up include mythological masterpiece Paapnaashini Ganga; crime-thriller Faraar Kab Tak; and three fiction shows Agni-Vayu, Humkadam, and Janani. Besides that, it was recently announced that Juggernaut Productions and Mango People Media will also produce a show based on the life of Maharani Gayatri Devi, to air on Ishara.

Pittie finds his passion in creating value and wealth and building scale. “That’s why I am interested in multiple businesses, not just any particular business. I am passionate about business, and building businesses that have scale, that gives employment to many people. That is what drives me,” says Pittie in a conversation with indiantelevision.com’s Shikha Singh, during which he spoke at length about new kid on the GEC block – Ishara, its programming line-up, marketing strategies and much more.

Edited excerpts:

On launching Ishara amid the pandemic.

As a media broadcast channel, we have the ambition to have another market share and after adding Showbox in our portfolio and launching Filamchi, it was always in our plan to venture into the Hindi GEC genre, hence we launched Ishara. The planning was in place before the pandemic took place. Now as the market is bouncing back, and the GDP is coming back on track, we feel the demand for content is comparatively more and most importantly, we felt that the timing is right to offer something which is slightly differentiated and fresh to the audiences.

On the channel’s standout USP.

We are positioning the channel as a celebration of life, while the stories are about real India, we are trying to bring the element of freshness and progressiveness. The idea is to provide something that is deeply rooted in values but also progressive in nature. Our idea is already resonating with people on social media and other consumer engagement sites. I think our USP is communicated fairly well, and that is how we are going to differentiate from other competition existing in this space.

On the initial sampling of the channel.

The way we have chosen our line-up is unique. Sampling is a factor of availability, very rarely do you see a channel in the pay and HSM (Hindi speaking market), so availability plays a very important role. We tried to create a lot of awareness including using an extensive marketing plan. Then obviously, how interested audiences are after seeing the trailers and the promos that you communicated, and what kind of conversion you are trying to get out of sampling. The fact that we have chosen Paapnaashini Ganga as our mythological show and Janani is a very powerful concept which everybody can relate to. We feel that with the combination of all of these factors there definitely will be a strong sampling for our channel. We have a mix of fiction and non-fiction shows which are in the pipeline.

On conducting research and deriving consumer insight pre-launch.

We have engaged with certain focus groups and agencies; we collected some data and qualitative analyses to understand consumer preferences. The fact that we are launching a channel with a 7-9 pm programming slot and again 9-11 pm, it’s very rare that a channel repeats its prime-time programming in the same primetime slot. Our channel is our own competition. The decision has been taken after the deep consumer research including both quantitative and qualitative.

On its target audience.

The genre is targeting both urban and rural audiences. However, as our country is growing so fast, consumers are evolving it would be difficult to find where our audiences live, but we have a slightly more urban slew. Similar to any other GEC, our major target audiences are females.

On advertisers’ response.

The responses are quite encouraging, the feedback is very strong. They feel our content is very fresh and there is potential to get market share. They are willing to partner with us at the early stages.

On content and distribution strategy.

At present, we have launched all our channels as part of the  Epic value pack which is a Rs 2 bouquet. From 1 April onwards we are increasing our price to Rs 7, where you will get all the five channels in the same amount.

On their media mix and how much digital will occupy.

For Ishara, we have allocated maximum resources to television slots. That is the fundamental strategy, we feel the convergence is higher from television to another TV channel. We have also taken lots of EPG spots with cable and DTH players. Apart from that, we have partnered with all radio networks across India. We are also leveraging digital, print and OOH mediums.

On linear feed availability on the network’s OTT platform Epic On.

We are still considering when to make Ishara available on our OTT platform, the linear feed won’t be coming soon to Epic On. We’re still deciding on when to make livestreaming available, and catch-up will be available subsequently. Currently, maximum sampling of our channel is going to happen on broadcast before we start moving some of the audiences to digital. But eventually, it is going to be the combination of both linear TV and OTT. We are living in a world where both are complimentary so definitely the content will be available on Epic On at some point in time.

On getting into sports broadcasting.

We are very clear about our strategies, and we are definitely not getting into sports broadcast. It is not part of our agenda.

On the secret ingredient that has kept the In10 brand going for years.

I think being a challenger brand or a product is something that as an entrepreneur I enjoy building. The whole mentality of starting up when the odds are against you is what encourages and drives the organisation to grow our business. I have an inherent love for creating content, whether it is creating compelling infotainment which is India centric or loved by so many people, we are the only music channel which has 40 per cent non-Bollywood music. The love for offering and creating content is actually the main driver for our ambition. This is the only reason we call ourselves content engines.

On content consumption trends, and what themes will rule 2021.

With India’s disposable income rising and internet connectivity improving, there will be more consumption of premium content. People’s ability to pay for premium content will increase, hence we are witnessing a growth in OTT content consumption. However, I think television content will still continue to be a priority for Indian viewers. Both television and OTT will be complimentary to each other, while content will become the main driving force in consumption. People will switch between watching content on disconnected services like mobile phones or broadcast set-top boxes. In terms of genre, feel-good, spiritual content, and comedy content will resonate more with viewers. Apart from that, horrors and supernatural shows will also be there.

On his vision for 2021.

We have created a good product with Ishara, we hope viewers will appreciate it. Obviously, monetising Ishara will be our focus for the next few quarters. In the coming six to eight months, we will make sure our entire bouquet of channels continues to grow.

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