Television broadcasters have seen massive fragmentation in viewership over the past few years across genres and regions, giving rise to sub-genres within the Hindi entertainment channel segment with channels like Epic, Zindagi and Discovery ID. However, it’s the mass genres that continue to dominate viewership, and despite the fragmentation of the audience, segmented channels have faced more challenges than successes. Consequently, Zindagi from ZEEL’s stable, featuring Pakistani and Turkish content, migrated from television to become a digital-only channel, while historical and mythological channel Epic changed its positioning to become a Hindi infotainment channel. Similarly, Discovery ID, a channel focusing on Hindi crime stories, will soon make way for the first male GEC, Discovery Jeet.
“Channels that are sub-genres within a mass genre have a narrower target group and are structurally hard at the business level. They require a high level of investment in terms of content and monetisation opportunities are a challenge,” observes Karan Bajaj, SVP and GM, Discovery Communications India. “However, a differentiated proposition is needed to break the clutter.”
Divya Radhakrishnan, MD, Helios Media, mentions that these specialist channels do not work because they are not getting captured and media planning is also done by the classification of genres. “Therefore, some channels like Epic have had to make adjustments in their profile to be appropriately compared and priced,” she notes.
With advertisers spending dollars to be present where the eyeballs are, monetisation opportunities for broadcasters operating as a segmented channel are limited. Moreover, if the TRAI tariff order gets implemented and all TV channels come under the à la carte or MRP model, it will be difficult for independent channels with low viewership to survive. As a result of this development, channels smaller in comparison might come under the axe. Moreover, viewers who want to consume niche and personalised content according to their convenience, are now moving to digital mediums.
Thus, presenting such content on digital platforms seems to be the way to go—as is the case with Zindagi. In fact, with Discovery ID soon making way for Discovery Jeet, the content of the crime channel will be served digitally to consumers as well.But digital has its own challenges. While the cost of being present on a digital platform is low, one needs a certain amount of clicks/visits to be successful.
(Written by Chandini Mathur)