History overtakes Discovery in metros

Written by Sohini Mitter | Mumbai | Updated: Jan 16 2012, 06:06am hrs
Three months after it launched, History TV18, owned by a joint venture between Network 18 and American television network AETN, said it has overtaken leader Discovery Channel in market share in six metros, riding on a mix of programmes and dubbed content in six regional languages. Although the new channel has a lead over Discovery in six metros, the latter is way ahead in all-India viewership in the factual entertainment genre.

Discovery commanded a market share of 41.9% in all-India viewership, followed by National Geographic Channel with 27.5% and 17.9% by History TV18, data provided by Television Audience Measurement (TAM) show. Animal Planet, Discovery Science and Discovery Turbo ended with market shares of 11.9%, 0.4% and 0.3%, respectively.

Consultants and media buyers say, Historys differentiated programming, dubbed content in six regional languages and an eyeball-grabbing brand campaign with Bollywood actor Salman Khan led to the rise in viewership. History said in a statement, it garnered 33% market share by December, ahead of Discoverys 31% and National Geographics 13% in the six metros of Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

Great content and language dubs is the way for global content channels to progress, says Punitha Arumugam, CEO, Madison Media, a media buying agency. This is what would have worked for History too.

Regional splits is the future for not only infotainment channels but for every channel in the market, she adds. she says, as more and more advertisers are exploring better targeting of audiences and localisation of messaging, the need of the hour is for regionalisation of national telecast beams.

History has feeds in English, Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu and Gujarati and reaches out to 40 million TV households. We expect to reach 55-60 million viewers in next one year, says Ajay Chacko, president, AETN18 Media. Theres a clear demand for such content and many regional markets are yet to be tapped.

Besides regional content, Historys focus on the entertainment element has also been the key. Earlier, wildlife defined the factual entertainment space with shows primarily leaning towards mans survival, says Sudheer KG, vice-president, programming, at AETN18 Media. There was an overdose of man versus wildlife, hence, when we came in with a differentiated offering of food, travel and history shows, audiences switched over willingly.

The differentiation was also facilitated by language dubbing, he says. Language is a key component because it leads to a transition from mindless watching to mindful watching.Some of Historys shows includeFood Tech,Human Weapon,Ice Road Truckers,Nostradamus 2012, Extreme TrainsandStrange Rituals. The channel says, it has grown the overall factual entertainment genre by 45%.

Our intention was not to take away eyeballs from the competitors but to grow the genre itself, says AETN18'S Chacko. The factual entertainment genre is only 1.5-1.7% of the TV space and has the potential to grow to 4-5% in two years.

At present, the factual entertainment space occupies 1.5% of the viewership pie and less than 2% of the advertising pie, according to a KPMG report. The infotainment genres advertising revenue is estimated to be less than R150 crore, says Madison's Arumugam.

Even in relatively underdeveloped television markets like Latin America, the share of factual entertainment is close to 15% and GECs also command the same. In India, however, the equation is skewed with GECs hogging 50-55% of the television pie.

The GEC space in India is saturated and growth will come from other genres, says AETN18's Chacko. The overall action in the factual entertainment space has increased with more players coming in, and it is going to grow exponentially now.

The governments mandate for digitisation in metros by March 2012 and across the country by 2014 is also expected to expand the reach of niche channels as subscription improves and genres are properly monetised.

Discovery officials were not available for comment. However, in an email, the channel said it led the genre nationally as suggested by TAM data.