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Epic to celebrate one year with 2 new shows by Mahesh Bhatt & Devdutt

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
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 and Kabuliwala 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
“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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