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Entry of more channels will definitely grow the factual entertainment genre: Sangeetha Aiyer, History TV18

The VP & Head – Marketing of A+E Networks, TV18, sheds light on the new shows lined up for the festive season and growth of HistoryTV18 in its four years

Entry of more channels will definitely grow the factual entertainment genre: Sangeetha Aiyer, TV18

The VP & Head – Marketing of A+E Networks, TV18, sheds light on the new shows lined up for the festive season and growth of HistoryTV18 in its four years

Mayur Lookhar | Mumbai | October 19, 2015

Sangeetha Aiyer Sangeetha Aiyer

History TV18 has been a consistent player among the top 3 in the infotainment space as per BARC ratings. Having completed four years on October 9, 2015, the channel is now ramping up its programming line-up with nine shows – three each in October, November and December.

The ball was set rolling with the Adam Brody-starrer ‘Houdini’, which was launched as a biweekly show on October 1 at 9.00 pm. On October 12, the channel launched the new season of game show ‘Pawnography’, which airs Monday to Friday at 10.30 pm. Completing the new shows in October will be crime series ‘Bonnie & Clyde’, which goes on air from October 22. The series will air every Thursday and Friday at 11.00 pm.

The other shows slated to release in November and December are ‘Genius’, ‘Metropolis’, ‘Four Rooms’, ‘Leepu & Pitbull’, ‘How to Win’ and ‘Human Calculator’.

Sangeetha Aiyer, VP and Head - Marketing, A+E Networks, TV18, sheds more light on the new shows lined up for the festive season, growth of History TV18 in its four years, why more factual entertainment channels will help grow the genre and more. Excerpts:

Nine shows in three months, is this a refreshing of programming or a revamp?

I think we have reached a stage where most of our performing shows are long-term series with multiple seasons. This strategy works best because it gives you time to establish the format and characters and build a loyal viewership in a genre which generally lacks appointment viewing. However, a lot of the new shows that 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 season.

Please tell us about your new acquisitions. Are they all properties of History TV (US)?

Most of our acquisitions are from the global History content library. We are experimenting with a few new shows like ‘Four Rooms’. Although this is an external production, we think viewers will enjoy watching a new format within our established ‘artifactual’ space. Our upcoming content is a mix of high-profile scripted series featuring award-winning talent and new series under sub-genres that work on our channel like ‘artifactual’ and ‘gearheads’ that will definitely appeal to our audiences.

What about sponsorship for the shows?

What works for factual is what is working for the industry as a whole – primarily e-commerce and mobile/digital apps are big spenders. Also, brands that want to connect with the youth tend to advertise on our channel.

What about the marketing strategy for these shows?

At History TV18, we always try to do something innovative to increase audience engagement and traction for a show. Besides promoting shows on traditional media like ambient, radio and TV, we are also doing some different stuff this time. For the launch of ‘Houdini’, we created an innovative ‘Houdini School of Magic’, the idea was that magic tricks and explaining the secrets behind them are really popular on YouTube. The Houdini School of Magic was a great idea to marry this concept with getting crowdsourced videos to increase interaction and engagement for viewers.

 Sony BBC will soon launch their infotainment channel Sony BBC Earth. Living Entertainment (Zee) too is set to launch its differentiated history channel called Living Rootz. Will they help grow the genre or will it lead to cannibalisation?

Most of the players in India are present internationally and in all major markets. Globally, factual as a percentage of total entertainment is far higher than in India; I think the entry of more channels in this space will definitely lead to a growth of the genre. It will raise the standards, giving the viewer more variety to choose from.

With Living Rootz, Epic and your channel, do you think there could be a case for this genre to be taken out of infotainment and be clubbed under the history category? Would you ask BARC to do so or do you think just three players are too few to form a separate category?

The larger factual entertainment genre comprises various types of sub-genres from history and science & tech to wildlife, lifestyle, food and nature, but the sub-categorisation is always wafer thin with most channels having some sort of overlap in terms of content. Moreover, if you look at our programming line-up this festive season, we are premiering a few big scripted series that could compete with the English GEC space. It’s safe to say that I do not think it would make sense to form a separate category based on the historical genre alone.

History TV18 completed four years on October 9 this year. How has the growth been in terms of ad revenues vis-a-vis last year? Has there been a growth in your ad rate? How many sponsors are there on the channel?

The History TV18 story should be seen with some perspective. When we launched, the brand had a lot of legacy issues and 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 and so on. Despite these issues, our channel has consistently seen a positive growth trajectory and we’ve been growing at a very healthy rate YoY. 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. Also, 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.

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