There is an interesting adage, ‘the more you change, the more you remain the same’ — sub-genres have sort of undergone a similar experience so far in their short-lived tenure, at least in some cases. In the Hindi GECs segment, while channels like Epic and Zindagi launched with a lot of promise, also delivering numbers initially for their differentiated content — somewhere they have failed to sustain the interest level of the viewer due to the lack of innovation in content post their launch.
Moreover, a niche within the mass genre does alienate a section of the audience on its own — with a few early adopters who sample the content and eventually get bored and switchover to traditional choices. This also prohibits the incremental investment from channels as they rather choose to deploy their weight behind tested channels/content. As a result, advertisers and media planners start looking at these channels as a very insignificant base of the audience that is more likely to fluctuate any moment.
Sometimes, the content of a sub-genre may itself be a bit ahead of its time as has been observed in the case of Discovery ID. It is ironical that a Hollywood movie with similar content will do well at the theatres but a TV channel will not. It only goes to prove that the staple diet of time-tested content shall remain the mainstay of audience consumption with a few eyeballs thrown in for differentiated offerings. Therefore, sustainability and choice of content remain the two biggest challenges, from the broadcaster’s perspective. In order to become a business success in the true sense, sub-genres will eventually have to stand on their own feet and become a full-scale genre in themselves.
t is not an easy task and requires constant monitoring of audience tastes, distribution muscle, advertising support and network endorsement. One could have imagined Zindagi on that path, but for the unfortunate series of events outside of the channel’s control. The broadcast network promoting these channels should be amply prepared for a long haul in terms of investments and their returns of the same. Promoters also need to do thorough research as to what kind of content would really click with consumers rather than simply bringing in their international content for a quick gain. Moreover, like any other consumer product, how could the content be adapted to Indian tastes is something that needs to be thought through — probably through a
feasibility study for audience size and interest, revenue visibility (distribution and advertising) and investment level.
Saumya Agarwal is associate general manager, Vizeum India