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Can a mythology and history-based channel be an #EpicWin?

The new Hindi entertainment channel Epic promises to enthral audiences with content based on Indian history, mythology and folklore. BestMediaInfo.com finds out from media experts if such a proposition is viable

Akansha Srivastava & Sarmistha Neogy | Mumbai | November 17, 2014

Mahesh Samat Mahesh Samat

Epic, the new Hindi entertainment channel based on Indian history, mythology and folklore, will be launched on November 19, 2014 at 9 PM. It is being spearheaded by Mahesh Samat, Managing Director, The Epic Television Network, and Mukesh Ambani, Anand Mahindra and Rohit Khattar are promoters of the channel.

The rationale behind launching a channel which is entirely focussed on history and mythology, Samat said, is three-pronged. “The TV market in India is quite homogenised, you have general entertainment channels (GEC), sports, new channels, but beyond that there is no sophistication in further genre of each segment. We saw an opportunity to make it possible, because of digitisation. Secondly, data states that about 16% of the programming on GEC is history and mythology, so there is a natural affinity for this kind of content. And thirdly, it is my personal passion and love for history and mythology which helped me to sense that there was an opportunity of segmenting television and so we went ahead,” he explained.

The channel will have 13 driver shows, but it will go on air with four main shows, namely, ‘Siyaasat’, ‘Dharmakshetra’, ‘Dariba Diaries’ and ‘Daanav Hunters’. It will air original content for two and a half hours and the channel’s prime time will be from 8.30 PM to 11 PM. The channel will have action, drama, comedy, supernatural and narrative non-fiction content, set against Indian historic and mythological eras. While weekends will be movie-led, during the weekdays, the channel will also have an interesting show where actor-comedian Javed Jaffrey will talk about movies from the 70s and 80s, in a lighter vein.

Talking about the channel’s strategy, Samat said, “We are looking for slightly meaningful and educative programming. Epic is not necessarily an appointment viewing channel, if you have the mood to see history and mythology, you know where to go. As compared to the other channels, Epic is less female-skewed and more male-biased.”

The launch of the channel is supported by an extensive multi-media marketing campaign across television, radio, print, digital, out-of-home, on-ground and more, ensuring deeper reach across markets.

An Epic move?

The channel is garnering an optimistic vibe from the media fraternity.

Ashish Bhasin Ashish Bhasin

Ashish Bhasin, Chairman & CEO, South Asia, Dentsu Aegis Network, believes that performance of a channel depends on the sustainability of content. “Whenever a new channel is launched, it always begins with good content. But, the real test begins on how to sustain this content and the same would apply for Epic as well. It is an interesting experiment and it has the potential to succeed. I am sure they will be able to sustain, as they are backed by good professional management. Usually, in the first six months to one year, we can tell whether the channel holds the potential to run in the long run,” he stated.

When asked if the channel will elicit excitement from the advertiser community, he said, “If there is good content and you are getting viewers; clients won’t mind spending money. Ad rate doesn’t matter as they are very much driven by market forces. A viewer doesn’t watch a channel, he or she watches a show, because when you are watching a programme, you are not worried on which channel it is being aired. The channel has an interesting positioning, which nobody else has yet occupied. By definition it is a niche channel, but because it is new, one will have to wait and see how it will settle.”

Mohit Joshi Mohit Joshi

Mohit Joshi, Managing Director, Havas Media reasoned that in a country of 120 crore population, there is still a dearth of good watchable content. “Epic has a unique positioning, and since mythology has always fascinated us, there is a good probability of it connecting with the consumers again. Sometimes channels do start with a clear positioning, but over a period of time, that gets hazy and the direction of growth gets distracted. If they stay true to this content or genre, then they are in for a long game. The channel will get its share from epic lovers who are sick of the saas-bahu and family dramas,” he stated.

Social buzz and viewership buzz, he said, will determine the advertising moolah the channel can command. Elaborating further, he said, “Today, social buzz is an equally convincing evaluation benchmark for deciding ad rates. However, the advertisers will only open their purses once they see the viewership buzz around the channel. Some fragmentation of viewership will happen, but I feel it will get new viewers as well and increase the base of viewership. Along with the maturity of digitisation in India, consumers are becoming more discerning and want better content, therefore more RoI. The other good thing is that all the content is shot on HD which makes the viewing experience even better. The channel seems to be targeting a much larger base of audiences both males and females - Urban HD focused.”

Sundeep Nagpal Sundeep Nagpal

Sundeep Nagpal, Founder-Director of Stratagem Media, has his reservations about the channel. “I don’t deny that there is a market for this kind of content, but I am not sure of whether people would like to see too much of this content. At the same time, if I go by the fact that once upon a time ‘Mahabharata’ was more popular than what it is recently, and with the proliferation of media options and content, the interest level and the time spent on a thing will go down. So, that’s what fragmentation is all about. Also, the reach of television is increasing and it will continue to rise in small towns as well. But, at the same time, human beings have a saturation point to consume something. I feel that selectively it may do well, as the content quality of the channel is good.”

Although he’d like to wait for six months before judging the channel’s performance, Nagpal expects a lukewarm response from both the advertisers and the audience.

All in all, the channel definitely has people talking about it. And if it manages to continuously leverage the boredom and monotony arising as a result of the regular fare being dished out by most GECs, it is here to stay.

Info@BestMediaInfo.com

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