MUMBAI: People thought that the infotainment genre was saturated with enough players competing for a niche viewership. That was until Sony BBC Earth took up the challenge and launched in an already cluttered segment. Proving naysayers wrong, the channel scaled up its market share from 22 per cent to 26 per cent in the metro cities during the first quarter of FY18-19 itself.
A year down the line, Indiantelevision.com caught up with Sony Pictures Network English cluster business head Tushar Shah. He said that the genre had fallen into the trap of pandering to viewership by giving content without the basic requirements expected namely information and entertainment.
“We figured out through our research and discussions with our consumers that actually the main slot that was information and entertainment was needed and people were moving towards entertainment. So the main premise of the category itself was missing and that was the premise which we planned to fill and bring back the days of infotainment on TV,” he says.
From the initial 14-15 minutes of viewership, it now gets 27 minutes. Shah says that it was a challenge to dethrone a channel that was already ruling the market and jump from the eighth to the first position within a year.
“It is difficult to change the habit of what you are watching for 15-20 years and to break that is the biggest challenge that anyone could have. Our target is not just the viewers, it is also our trade partners, our distributors, our advertisers, we have to take them all along so that we are able to tell the story that we want to convey to the consumers,” he says.
The channel is not giving it a rest anytime soon. The goal is to create a bond with audiences that will last long. Shah is pretty confident about the growth of the whole infotainment genre in general. “If you look at the infotainment space, it is just as big as the English movie space, perhaps a little bigger also, depending on the week on week numbers. It is even bigger than the English general entertainment channels but the revenue is not commensurate with the size of the category and that is something I want to see growing,” he reveals.
The channel has been trying to overcome the various challenges. “One is to take it as the face value and the other is to put everything together and see what comes out of it. So mobilisation is your challenge and the second is, decoding the consumer and third is, once you have identified the positioning of the channel, meeting that promise is a big challenge,” says Shah.
Launched in March 2017, along with Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and English audio feeds being the primary language for the channel, the channel concentrated on three strong pillars that the channel religiously followed - visual effects, never seen before and positive insights to stories and staying true to its tagline ‘feel alive’ along with creating the emotional bond with the viewers that will make them remember it for lifelong.
Spy in the Wild, The Hunt, Attenborough’s Big Birds and Rick Stein’s India are some of the shows that are helping the channel to garner more eyeballs. If the channel can create ripples within just a year, it surely has more milestones to record in the coming years.