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Epic TV's growth in the infotainment genre

The channel’s market share scaled up from 3 per cent to 15 per cent.

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MUMBAI: The infotainment genre is no longer to be sidelined. Indeed that was seen when Epic TV switched from calling itself a general entertainment channel to one in the infotainment genre.

When Epic TV launched in 2014, the channel claimed to entertain the country with the myths and folklore that the country is renowned for. Three years down the line, it felt the need for a revamp to accompany the switch. The logo was changed and new shows were introduced. The move proved to be a success as the channel’s market share scaled up from 3 per cent to 15 per cent.

Indiantelevision.com caught up with Epic TV VP sales Tushar Guha, head content syndication and acquisition Adita Jain and programming head Akul Tripathi to throw light on the channels’ progress and future.

Edited excerpts:

How has Epic TV managed to grow within the already cluttered infotainment segment? 

Akul Tripathi: What Epic is actually doing is not just growing within the infotainment segment but by virtue of its positioning of “India Ka Apna Infotainment”, it is helping in the growth of the entire infotainment genre. Being the only Hindi-language, India-centric infotainment channel is also helping to tap into audiences who would have overlooked the genre previously.

Unlike other players whose libraries are generic content, Epic has a large bank of original Hindi content created specifically for the Indian audience.

Quality of production, top of the line research, and the associated credibility that comes with it have been the hallmark of Epic’s programming, which continue to generate acclaim as well as increase reach through content tie-ups, like with Netflix, amongst others, for whom Epic is amongst the first and largest content syndicators.

By how much per cent has the market share of the channel grown in the past one year? What are the future goals of the channel on this front?

Tushar Guha: Our FCT market share in June last year was only 3 per cent in the infotainment genre. It has grown to 15 per cent in June this year.

The infotainment genre has roughly 300 clients and even though Epic has shown a significant growth in client count, there is a long way to go. Going forward we will be focusing on adding new clients every month with year-long commitments by offering them innovative packages. Epic has a very strong digital and social media presence and combining digital and television is a high value proposition for any client. 

What’s your strategy to scale-up Epic TV’s growth in terms of viewership and revenue model as well?

Akul Tripathi: At Epic, we truly believe that good content will find its viewers and our goal is to keep making the kind of content we are known to be making and are proud to have made. That said, the focus is on exploring and showcasing various facets of India in as engaging a manner as possible.

We see growth in terms of revenue model to focus more on selling sponsorships of our tentpole properties and also focus on advertising branded content 

What is the average time spent on the channel by the audiences? What was the time spent now as compared to the last year?

Akul Tripathi: Average time spent viewing is 13 mins and it has been stable.

What are the 10 second ad rates for the channel? Who are your major advertising brands on board? Are there new brands on board?

Tushar Guha: The 10 sec rates have been increased by 30 per cent yoy.

FMCG giants like HUL, P&G, Reckitt, Loreal, Fortune Foods, KRBL and Vini cosmetics advertised with us month-on-month. Leading players in the dotcom industry such as Flipkart, Bigbasket, Cars24, Trivago, Cleartrip, Urbanclap and also Jeep & Michelin in automobile industry advertised with us in the last nine months. Notably, we have 40 per cent more advertisers in Q1 this fiscal as compared to the same last fiscal. In the BFSI category, we have LIC and Axis Bank on board. 

FCT vs Branded content- how does an advertiser engage through your channel?

Akul Tripathi: Currently the advertisers on Epic are engaging through sponsorship and FCT deals. However, we are in parallel exploring the branded content route aggressively.

What is the scope for infotainment genre as a whole in the future according to you?

Akul Tripathi: Globally, there has been a marked increase in both, the production and the hours spent consuming factual entertainment. The genre has grown so much beyond the documentary which was the single item this shelf once offered. Perhaps what they say about reality being stranger than fiction is finally catching up on TV as well! With more content created in the space, more topics explored and increased experimentation with themes and formats of telling stories of the world around us, both interest and the space to accommodate these stories are only set to grow.

What has been your learning and what goals have you achieved after switching a GEC channel to an infotainment channel?

Akul Tripathi: The important shift has actually been the broadening of horizons from a segmented channel in the history and mythology space to exploring all other genres. It has allowed for a lot more possibilities and freedom in the kind of content we can make and also opens up many new audience bases.

With so many genres - factual, infotainment, lifestyle- everyone is talking about reaching out to the same consumer- how are you different? 

Akul Tripathi: Given a market size of over a billion consumers, I think there is more than enough space for all.

The Epic proposition is more than just a genre-specific call out to imagined genre-specific audience sets. Epic is a tribe of Indians who are enthusiastic for learning about their country, in their own language, in a tone that sets to understand why we are the way we are, why things are the way they are in this country and want to find reasons to celebrate it, without passing judgments or reaching conclusions. I believe this is exceedingly important in the times we live in. Combined with proven competencies at producing top-notch content that deliberately strays from the beaten track, Epic offers a compelling premise to audiences and advertisers alike.

Many believe that the players in the infotainment genre have shifted their focus towards offering entertainment, leaving out information from the content. What is your perspective on the same?

Akul Tripathi: I believe that the definition of infotainment clings to archaic notions of what is information and what is entertainment and the supposedly sacred lines that divide the two. The visual medium, in the last couple of decades, has aggressively come to a point where today it is not just possible but necessary to cloak information in a healthy sauce of entertainment for it to be palatable to audiences. The opportunities and avenues to find dry information abound in the digital world and in this scenario, it is imperative for the mediums to evolve to attract eyeballs by experimenting with the treatment of traditional infotainment and making for more engaging content.

Are there new shows in the pipeline?

Akul Tripathi: There are always new shows in the pipeline. And there are shows that are waiting to get into the pipeline. The one to hit the screens first is a never before attempted series on the India Army where each episode features one regiment of the army and details its history and traditions. Shot at the regimental centres, it is quite possibly the most authentic showcase of the regiments of the Indian army ever attempted. 

Content syndication- is there a future?

Adita Jain: Oh! Yes! In fact, the future is content syndication. A globalised market, trends and themes that are truly universal, a smaller and more connected world are accelerating the discovery, interest and acceptability of content from regions of the world. Not only is the content available, it is actually in demand. There is also a conscious attempt to stray beyond the mainstream and explore new content. That said, even within India there is both great diversity with a unifying homogeneity and extremely talented regional content producers. With platforms and avenues to watch growing at breakneck speed, the demand for content is increasing far rapidly than the ability to produce it. Syndication is the perfect solution that fulfils this demand-supply gap. And then, of course, there is money…

There is a rumour that a new regional channel is being launched by the group. What is the rationale behind this? 

Akul Tripathi: As publically announced previously, the group is planning a network of TV channels to strengthen the Epic proposition. The specifics on these shall be given out soon.

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