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Sony BBC Earth to go on air on March 6 with about 19 hours of original content per week

India is the 40th country where BBC Earth is being launched. This is the first time that BBC Worldwide has partnered with Sony Pictures Networks globally. Kareena Kapoor Khan has been taken aboard as the Feel Alive ambassador

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Mumbai | March 2, 2017

Saurabh-Yagnik,-NP-Singh,-Kareena-Kapoor-Khan-and-Paul-Dempsey (L-R) Saurabh Yagnik, NP Singh, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Paul Dempsey

The much-awaited factual entertainment channel, Sony BBC Earth, will finally be launched on March 6, 2017, in Hindi, English, Telugu and Tamil in standard definition (SD) and high definition (HD) variants. With this launch, India becomes the 40th global market for BBC Earth.

Sony BBC Earth is a part of MSM Worldwide Factual Media -- a joint venture between Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) and BBC Worldwide. NP Singh, CEO, Sony Pictures Networks, sees the channel as one of the top three players in the genre in the next one year. Explaining more about the channel, he said, “It will be a premium subscription-based channel but for now, advertising will be a crucial source of revenue for the channel. It is an ad-driven market. But as we move forward and the two types of digitisation take place, more addressability comes in; then there is a strong likelihood of pricing for subscription and recovering from there. Then, we will consider bringing advertising down.”

This is the first time that BBC Worldwide has partnered with Sony Pictures Networks globally. With this, SPN will enter the Rs1,500 crore revenue factual entertainment genre (subscription and advertising put together). The genre has about 1-1.2 per cent viewership share. The channel has taken aboard Kareena Kapoor Khan as the Feel Alive ambassador.

To be launched with about 19 hours of original content per week, the channel has three different time bands for different sub-genres of content. At 8 pm, the channel will bring more technology and science shows. To start with, there will be Why, How & What on Earth, while at 9 pm, there will be nature-based content like Wild Wild Earth at the launch of the channel. At 10 pm, the channel will focus on adventure and thrill with Earth Explorers. Weekends will have special two or three part series titled Earth Specials. Some of the other important shows that the channel is launching include The Hunt, Where The Wild Men Are with Ben Fogle, Trust Me I’m A Doctor, Snow Chick and the popular series Planet Earth II among others.

Asked if the channel will have local content from India, Paul Dempsey, President Global Markets, BBC Worldwide, said, “What I like about BBC Earth is that the same shows are popular in all the markets that it is available. That, I think, is not only because of the quality of content, but also because of the compelling storytelling. So, I expect that the big global landmark shows to be popular here. I do expect over time to introduce more local content as that is more relevant to the lives of the audience here.”

More shows will soon join the line-up said Saurabh Yagnik, EVP and Business Head, English Cluster, Sony Pictures Networks India, adding, “Commissioning of content is a continuous process. We have another wonderful show coming up soon called Blue Planet.”

The channel has undergone an extensive research involving about 2,000 people and the content consumption patterns were sketched. This research, coupled with the understanding of which type of audience wants to watch what type of content, is what helped the channel finalise on the special content on special time bands. Launching with a complete urban focus, the channel’s marketing strategies will cover the metros and the 10-75 lakh towns. The distribution will be far and wide, though. “The young, affluent, upwardly mobile household is our communication TG, but as we go ahead, we will expand this,” added Yagnik.

Asked why Kapoor-Khan was chosen since both BBC and SPN are quite well-known brands, Yagnik said, “We could have always talked about content, the plain and simple way. One of the gaps that we saw in the category was that of a definitive positioning. We took the emotional route of feeling alive #FeelAlive. Hence we could not have put the animals around to tell the audiences to feel alive, it had to be relatable to the audiences. Kareena has a full-of-life kind of personality.”

The channel has not yet started advertising for the launch phase, but there will be significant advertising on the channel, going forward.

It must be noted that BBC Worldwide has a significant presence in India infrastructure wise too. Though as per the partnership deal, SPN will operate the channel in India. Dempsey said, “They will take day-to-day decisions. We trust them and their strength in the market. We will add inputs with appropriate ‘editorial’ to make sure the brand here looks and feels similar (albeit with a distinctive flavour that Saurabh spoke about) to how it looks around everywhere around the world.”

The channel will feature some of the world's foremost factual film-makers and extraordinary storytellers like Sir David Attenborough, The Godfather of Natural History and other well-known BBC Earth personalities like Steve Backshall (English naturalist, writer and television presenter), Ben Fogle (author, broadcaster and writer) and Dr Michael Mosley (a medical doctor and science journalist) as well as wildlife cameraman, presenter and filmmaker, Gordon Buchanan.

Dempsey added, “Our relationship with Sony has been a long one, built in the first instance on our production business, and one that has since grown across all key areas of BBC Worldwide’s operations. We already partnered with them to bring top programmes like Sherlock, Orphan Black and Top Gear on AXN to our fans in India.”

The channel has planned an extensive marketing campaign for the launch of the channel, which will go on for four to six weeks. Other than the promos running on television across the SPN network and few other networks on a cross-promotions basis, heavy digital campaign is already floating. Outdoor is being done in three cities -- Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, while print campaign will capture eight cities. The complete amplification is on the Feel Alive factor.

Paul-Dempsey-N-P-Singh-shake-hands Sony-BBC-Earth-Logo-Feel-Alive Anushka-Manchanda

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