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History TV18 focusing on sub-genres for growth

MUMBAI: This year, infotainment
broadcaster History TV18 is focusing
on subgenres like ‘artifactual’ and
‘gearheads’. The former concerns
showcasing the buying and selling of
collectibles and artefacts, which
continues to remain the channel’s
top-performing sub-genre.
Speaking to TelevisionPost.com, A+E
Networks|TV18 VP – head of
marketing Sangeetha Aiyer said, “I
think to grow our audience more, the
next logical step would be localisation
of content. This is relevant especially
for an inward-looking, diverse
country like India and the factual
entertainment genre is already
beginning to make a mark in this area.
With History TV18 now available in
five languages, it is also essential to
increase sampling and drive viewership
through regional campaigns where the
idea is to establish a local identity for
the channel.
“Another route to drive growth this
year was through the launch of
blockbuster tentpoles. We are sure
this will help us draw more eyeballs. A
number of the new shows we are
premiering this quarter are mini-
series with fantastic production
values. On digital, we are unveiling
the next thrust of innovation across
platforms, but we won’t be able to
share more details at the moment.”
In terms of genres that have grown in
viewership, she noted that
‘artifactual’ shows continue to
remain its best performing sub-genre.
“At the same time, the genre is
seeing a growth in local content that
focuses on India. What’s more, the
genre has also seen the launch of new
channels, particularly in the food and
history space.”
Snacking: She added that the factual
space is essentially a snacking genre
where an average viewer tunes into
the channel for a few minutes. “While
our channel does aim to build
appointment viewing during the 8–11
pm band, we do promote our shows in
various other time slots by creating
relevant umbrella bands like ‘Food@2′
during the afternoon slot and airing
core history shows on weekends.”
Upcoming properties: Aiyer went on to
add that the broadcaster has reached
a stage where most performing shows
are long-term series with multiple
seasons. “This strategy works best
because it gives you time to establish
the format and characters, as well as
build a loyal viewership in a genre
that generally lacks appointment
viewing. However, a lot of the new
shows we are premiering this quarter
are one-off mega mini-movie events
with fantastic production values. The
whole idea is to celebrate with the
best entertaining shows this festive
The channel’s upcoming content is a
mix of high-profile scripted series
featuring award-winning talent and
new series under sub-genres that
work on the channel like ‘artifactual’
and ‘gearheads’. “While the former
have a proven track record, when it
comes to the latter, we are
experimenting with a few new shows
such as ‘Four Rooms’ and ‘Leepu And
Pitbull’. We think viewers will enjoy
watching a new format within our
established ‘artifactual’ space.”
BARC: On the ratings front, she noted
that these are early days. “We will be
able to take a call on the efficacy of
the new system once it rolls out
completely. However, greater
transparency and a larger sample by
default should help better represent
the genre. We would like to take a
wait-and-watch approach until
teething issues, complete rollout
across the country, etc. have been
Continued reliance on ad revenue:
While subscription revenues are on
the rise, a large percentage is
siphoned back into increasing
distribution thrust. Therefore, Aiyer
said that ad revenue still comprises a
major portion of the topline.
The carriage fee challenge: With
regard to the carriage fee, she said
that there has always a demand and
supply issue where over 800 channels
are jostling for the same space.
“Carriage fee will continue to be a
challenge with an upswing in
distribution thrust, but with the third
phase of digitisation, it should
gradually reduce.”
The impact of more factual, lifestyle
channels: She noted that the market
is huge and continues to grow, which
is why there is enough room for every
type of player.
“I think factual entertainment
channels are not really niche. In
fact, the genre commands a much
larger viewership share than other
genres like English movies (0.7%),
English news (0.1%), Hindi business
news (0.1%) and English GECs (0.2%).
Most of the players in India are
present internationally and in most
major markets, History is No. 1.”
Globally, she said, factual as a
percentage of total entertainment is
far higher than in India.
Therefore, she is optimistic that the
entry of more channels in this space
will definitely lead to growth of the
genre. “It will raise the standards
and give the viewer more variety to
choose from,” she explained.
The History TV18 story, she said,
should be seen with some perspective.
“When we launched, the brand had a
lot of legacy issues, the genre was
undersold. These four years have seen
some major transitions and upheavals
in the industry, with digitisation
setting in, the change in currency
from TAM to BARC, etc. Despite these
issues, our channel has consistently
seen a positive growth trajectory and
we’ve been growing at a very healthy
rate year on year.”
She maintained that the channel’s
story is a parable on how a great
product will work despite all odds.
“With the impetus provided by the
festive season and on the back of a
slew of exciting new content being
launched this quarter, we are
optimistic about closing the year on a
high. Besides, it is worth noting that
we are one of the few channels that
have been able to maintain a healthy
and stable ER over the years.”

History TV18 focusing on sub-genres for growth

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