Channel plans three new shows for the coming months including the international favourite ‘When Patrick met Kylie’
Sohini Sen | Delhi | June 27, 2014
A channel which has redefined travel shows in India has decided to expand its reach to include more than just travel. Keeping it real and talking more about the journey of life, Fox Travel has just been rebranded as Fox Life.
Incidentally, the channel which entered India in 2008 as Fox History & Entertainment was rebranded as Fox Traveller in 2011. In India, Fox Life is the leader in its genre which also has players like TLC and NDTV Good Times.
“We have been the market leader since the time we launched Fox Traveller. There is always the pressure on the market leader to grow the category. If we do not reinvent ourselves, the pie will be very small. Any which ways, we are a very focused channel and not a mass GEC channel. While this meant we could experiment, it also gave us the opportunity to align ourselves with our international lifestyle brand, Fox Life. It is always good to be part of a global strong brand than be just a local strong brand,” explained Debarpita Banerjee, VP - Marketing & Communication at National Geographic Channel (NGC) and Fox International Channels.
However, Banerjee also hopes that this will not create any confusion in the minds of the consumer since the channel is, in essence, the same. It is still talking about travel and the journey, and this time it is “more about the journey of life. Fox Life wants to show you the joys of the journey and not just the ultimate destination.”
With over 35 weeks of leadership in the last one year in their category, Fox has little to worry about. But they know that other genres are already there. Do they not worry about losing out to the competition in the flurry of this confusion? Fox believes that, in terms of viewership, they compete with any and every channel which offers good content. That could be a movie or a soap or even reality TV.
For any infotainment channel, competing with movies and shows on primetime becomes difficult. But Fox Life has always kept the 6-11 PM. However, the best of the shows are kept for 8-11 PM.
Putting specific shows at a specific time, the channel started keeping food shows at 9 PM which was branded as 'food@nine'. The 10 PM slots were about traditional travel related shows. At 11 PM the lifestyle and party destinations would take over, with ‘Latin Angels’ and ‘After Hours’.
“Our brand positioning has not changed. This is the channel which curates never ending, experiential journeys which is why we took off. At core it is going to be a travel and lifestyle channel that believes in never ending journeys,” Banerjee emphasised.
Fox Traveller had focused on Indian and local productions which set them apart from other channels in its genre. Traveller had four local productions and Life will continue to have the same number. However, with 6-7 Indian shows, they rotate the shows being shown that year. According to Banerjee, there are no plans of increasing the number. However, “it can be extended in the sense that more episodes can be shot, tie-ups can be decided on, etc.”
Of the shows that Fox is well known for are the theme-based travel shows. Be it music oriented ‘SoundTrek’ or fashion centric ‘Style & the City’, the channel has been able to create differentiated content through these.
“The youth travel nowadays for a reason, not just to see a place. For example, a group of kids won't say let’s go to Hrishikesh. They will say, let's go rafting and then decide on Zanskar, Hrishikesh or Kolad. It is very purpose driven now. That is why we are focusing more on the journey and experience,” reiterated Banerjee.
A lot of new shows are being planned as well. Keeping up with the FIFA World Cup fever, the channel has introduced ‘This is Brazil’ which is on air. ‘Styled by June’, a fashion based reality show, is already on air at the moment. In the next few months the channel will bring another reality show – ‘Clifton Shores’ – where small town girls will be brought out to the big bad world of something like Malibu town. A food related show called ‘Sugar Stars’ is also on the anvil. ‘When Patrick met Kylie’ revolves around two travellers who fall in love together, bringing romance into the travel genre. The last three shows are likely to come on air in the next two months.
On ground activities have also taken the channel places. ‘India Bike Week’, one of their flagship properties, speaks of the earlier mantra – the journey is fun. Hundreds of bikers ride their beasts and meet at a particular point for the Bike Week.
International format shows, making up a chunk of the channel’s content, have also done well. ‘Walking Dead’, for example, is an international format show which they brought to India since they had access to the Fox library.
One of the factors which have helped Fox Life reach further than their peers has been the way they have looked at marketing. While conventional marketing has always been a part of their strategy, they have not shied away from experimenting with new stuff. Be it a prank in a photo booth, some zombie memes on the internet, or a flash mob, the channel has tried connecting with their youthful audience time and again.
"It is fairly simple. Such activities keep it interesting and then from five people, it reached 50 and then 500. That is how it goes viral. Because our content is itself ‘chatpata’, it will be silly if we don't take advantage of this in the online media and create funky stuff,” said Banerjee.
Winning five awards in Promax, Fox Life believes that connecting with the audience is difficult while just keeping them informed is easy. They use the online space and instead of informing them, they give the audience information about things they are looking for. They can be great places to eat, places to go to, great pictures, inspirational travel personalities, etc. Fox also has travel related contests like the recent ‘where will your signature take you'. In this, a lucky winner’s signature will be spread on the map and he or she will be invited to travel from the point A to point B.
Language feeds have also helped the channel to gain new audience. According to Banerjee, “it is interesting that for any infotainment channel, a large chunk of viewership comes from the regional markets. It contributes more than the English language channels.”
Banerjee feels that there is a lot more to be done to make more and more households tune in to Fox Life. “We want to reduce the gap between the number of households that get the channel and the number of people who tune in to the travel and lifestyle genre. The rebranded channel is a step towards that,” she said.