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Channel V gets bigger, better, post refresh

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MUMBAI: “As politically incorrect as it sounds, may we just say we’re kicked,” says Channel V EVP and general manager Prem Kamath

In an interview with indiantelevision.com, Kamath expresses happiness at the way things have shaped up for the channel after its two big refreshes.

The first happened in July 2012, when Channel V repositioned itself as a youth general entertainment channel with a focus on reality.

The second, on 25 November, 2013, when it came up with a cool new logo, a tagline ‘Correct Hai’ and four new shows i.e. Paanch: Don't Get Mad Get Even, It's Complicated, Confessions of an Indian Teenager (finite) and Sadaa Haq (daily).

“The response has been huge, both in terms of viewership and what we have managed to achieve in the market. Specifically in terms of numbers, after the last refresh, we have seen 52 per cent growth, that too within three weeks of it, which is unprecedented within the category in my mind,” he says.

Channel V is now a good 40-50 per cent bigger than its nearest competitor, courtesy breakout hits like Sadaa Haq and Paanch. Within a week of launching these shows, the channel witnessed 14.3 TVM vis-a-vis Bindaas’s 11.1 TVM and MTV’s 8.5 TVM, going by TAM week 48 ratings. It recorded a 42 per cent growth in just one week.

With increased ratings came advertisers. “Yes, more than the sheer number of advertisers, I think, for channels like us, where revenues are directly linked to ratings as we have a lot of clients on CPRP deals, a jump in ratings almost immediately results in an upswing in monetization as well,” says Kamath.

This included advertisers targeting a slightly older age group. “So, even advertisers targeting a slightly older age group started coming on board in a significant departure from earlier times,” he says.

Unlike other TV channels which divide content into weekdays and weekends with weekdays focussing on dailies and weekends on one or two episodes, Channel V took a very different approach and started doing bi-weeklies.

“We understood clearly that given the nature of the audience and their viewing habits, this group of viewers tends to be fickle and gets bored rather quickly. It is not interested in watching the same story drawn out over a period of one year or two and a half years which is what dailies typically do,” Kamath goes on to explain.

So, three of the four new shows were bi-weeklies, running for two episodes a week and for a finite period. From the beginning, they were conceptualized as shows with 52 episodes that would run for 26 weeks, period. The entire script too was fleshed out before taking the first shot.

“This innovation and scheduling has worked tremendously for us. Paanch has been a breakout hit. Sadaa Haq has been a daily format, but again within the daily format, we were clear that it is a one-year story line and it begins and concludes within a year and within a year, you will see Sadaa Haq being replaced as well,” he says.

In week 2-5, Channel V reported an average 12,640 TVTs compared to Bindaas’s 8,946 TVTs and MTV’s 6,367 TVTs. In week 6 of TAM ratings, Channel V scored 2,691 TVTs, whereas Bindaas got 1,321 TVTs and MTV stood at 1,216 TVTs. “It’s been Channel V vs. Channel V, what with MTV and Bindaas less than half the break TVT ratings,” says Kamath.

What’s more, Channel V was in the lead with audiences in the age group of 15 to 34 years in week 8 of TAM ratings (Channel V 17,738 TVTs; Bindaas 13,535 TVTs; MTV 10,194 TVTs and 9XM 8,657 TVTs).

According to Kamath, bi-weeklies have multiple advantages. “They let us tap into producers who would have otherwise not come on television. Because it is finite project, people are willing to come on-board because it does not take up their entire lives, which a daily tends to do,” he says, adding the ability to experiment with more concepts and genres as another advantage.

Paanch is a taut revenge thriller which we won’t be able to pull off on a daily basis and continuously. It has multiple advantages and lets us tap into newer concepts and newer genres as well as newer talent, which is why it is working well for us.”

Bi-weeklies have worked so well for the channel that ironically, the feedback has been to make them dailies. “Unfortunately, we can’t,” asserts Kamath. “The nature of the show is such that it is not possible for us to produce this quality of content, with this quality of writing and this pace of narration if it becomes a daily. And then, there will always be a compromise we will have to make.”

Road ahead

Once Confessions of the Indian Teenager ends, it will be replaced with another bi-weekly drama. In April, the channel plans to launch two more shows, but Kamath refused to divulge details.

“It is a little early to talk about these shows, but within a couple of weeks’ time, we will be in a position to talk about them. But around the first or second week of April, you will see two new shows being launched,” he says.

Going forward, the channel is planning on creating something called E-IndiaFest, reason being IndiaFest zonals usually start around November and conclude by Jan or Feb leaving nothing on the plate between February and November.

“There is a set of things we are planning which people can compete in but can do online. Because we have so far been operating on formats which are essentially dailies, the season break never tends to happen. These are continuous shows that are run aground once ratings stop. But it is something that we now have the option of doing. So with Paanch for example, we are already beginning to script the second season,” he explains.

There are plans to air the second season of the show, a year later or maybe earlier, depending on how it is scheduled.

“For us, it is the process of continuously adding programming. At present, the channel produces four slots a day and plans to add more in the coming months. Towards the end of May, you might see us opening a fifth slot. Getting it into the next fiscal, the plan is to add more slots to it,” he reveals.

“We are clear that the direction we are going in is fairly stronger and the kind of traction we have got is huge. But we also know that probably in order for us to really break out in the larger leagues and for us to become a full-fledged GEC in our own right, we will need much higher levels of the show programming. That is the process we have consciously undertaken, one step at a time. So, even when we re-launched three years back, we started with one show a week and the channel has slowly built up from there to the point that it is today,” Kamath signs off.

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