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Disney enters English GEC space with an HD-only offering

This will be the first HD channel in the Disney portfolio. The new channel has over 1,500 episodes and 100 movies. It will also telecast music content, original to Disney, through its movies and series

Aiming to cater to the 14-25 years age-group, Disney has announced the launch of an English GEC, bringing Disney International HD to India – an HD only offering – on October 29. The network aims to become a subscription-based channel, with lesser dependence on advertising revenue. This will be the first HD channel in the Disney portfolio that consists Disney Channel, Disney XD, Hungama, Disney Junior, bindaas, bindaas Play, UTV Action and UTV Movies.

The channel has over 1,500 episodes and over 100 movies for this channel, which will also telecast music content, original to Disney through its movies and series – which are generally music heavy.

The English GEC space is already quite matured with established players such as Star World (HD), Zee Cafe (HD), Romedy Now (HD), AXN (HD) and a few other players. So why did Disney take so long to make a debut in this market?

Abhishek Maheshwari

Abhishek Maheshwari, Vice-President, Media Networks, Disney India, said, “We have taken this step now, since HD is developing now and the distribution has also strengthened. It will be a subscription product. There are 10-12 million HD households – first order of business is to be able to offer it to all of them. It is not a mass channel.”

Disney International HD is utilising the licence and permissions of the erstwhile music channel bindaas Play, which is slated to shut down soon. The network has got the regulatory approvals to change the name and genre of the channel.

The channel’s content line-up is divided into four broad blocks – Disney Handpicked (Monday to Friday, 6pm) to have TV shows, Disney Spotlight (Friday to Saturday, 8pm) will show movies and a movie to be premiered every month, Disney Rewind (Monday to Thursday, 8pm) is for classic shows of Disney, Disney Sneak Peek (KC Undercover), Weekend Splash to have marathon of the series that were run through the week to facilitate catch-up TV and Disney Playlist to telecast music tracks from Disney series and TV.

The content has not been syndicated anywhere else to maintain exclusivity. The channel will launch with 10 shows, though there are about 30 in the library.

The content mix spans a wide variety of brand new series and movies, ranging from the latest hits like ‘Liv and Maddie’, ‘KC Undercover’ and ‘Girl Meets World’, to blockbuster original movies like ‘Descendants’ and ‘Teen Beach Movie, and ever popular hits like ‘Hannah Montana’ and ‘Wizards of Waverley Palace’ and ‘High School Musical’. The content will also highlight Disney’s original music from these series and movies through music videos and sing along versions.

The channel has decided to stay away from advertising for the initial few weeks. As Maheshwari explained, “We will have brand partners but this is not going to be the traditional channel where one tries to fill the 12-minute of every hour with ads. We will launch it first, let the audience sample the content and then look for monetisation. Within the core audience that we are targeting, I don’t think there is any dedicated product. Hence, we are expecting more brand integrations and partnerships and lesser 30-second TVCs.”

The network has a very strong offering for the 2-14 age group audience and with Disney International HD, the network plans to grab the attention and viewership of the 14-25 years age group. “It is around 14 when kids grow out of animation and are too young for the GECs. We want to offer them their kind of content,” said Maheshwari.

The channel will be promoted heavily across all the platforms and the full thrust on marketing will start right after Diwali. Digital and social media will play a vital role in the marketing strategy, considering the channel’s core TG.

“At the heart of everything we do is to tell great stories with engaging characters that resonate with our audience across age groups. We are confident that this content will find instant appeal among the target audience as it transcends cultural and geographical boundaries. We are also extremely excited to introduce our first high definition channel to our existing portfolio,” said Maheshwari.

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