Ag Talk | 'Smartertainment', a new buzz of the small screen..!

Television has evolved with years and has bought in a change that took the world by storm. The value of entertainment with information has gained popularity. It could be general entertainment or infotainment genre, the past few years have indicated a trend in the TV viewing habits of the Indian audiences with preferences for specific kind of content within infotainment. The audience has evolved and keeps looking forward for different and interesting concepts. There has been a resurgence of ‘Smart TV’ as a genre with a large set of people consuming television to test their brains with highly interactive, relatable, blue chip content that not only apprises, but also ‘entertains’ its viewers.

One channel that always stood high in catering the ever changing demands and needs of its consumers is National Geographic Channel (NGC). NGC has always remained true to its promise of providing its viewers content with knowledge at its core. It has provided content that is also interesting and doesn't get monotonous in its approach. The audience has gone beyond the survivor-based programming and has accepted shows like Brain Games, Street Genius, The Number Game; Science of Stupid etc.

To get a deeper insight of the perceived notion, we at Adgully caught up with Keertan Adhyanthaya, MD, NGC and Fox International Channels.

Adgully (AG): We often see you refreshing and altering your content strategies, do you think refreshed content works?
Keertan Adhyanthaya (KA):
Yes, we have changed the tonality of our shows to suit the Indian taste. In addition to this, we have also on-boarded many Indian faces to help connect and aid recall. John Abraham is the brand ambassador of the channel and will be the face of our upcoming show ‘Supercars’. We have also signed up with celebrities like Arshad Warsi for ‘Brain Games’ and Manish Paul for ‘Science of Stupid’. These celebrities fit in with the brand philosophy and content of the show and this has worked extremely well for us. The fact is refreshed content works in a bit different manner. There have been couple of things that have worked well for us like in the last year and a half in our ‘smartertainment’ category shows like Brain Games, Street Genius, The Number Game, Science of Stupid etc have witnessed a significant acceptance.

AG: Give us a sense of how local productions work versus International productions on English entertainment channels?
We started airing locally produced shows when we started Fox Traveller which is Fox Life. That time we came up with 4 local productions with general estimation that if one works then we will get into another one or at least if one out of four works. But, interestingly two shows out of the 4 shows really worked for us, Twist of taste and life made PI both worked really well for us. Twist of taste is in its 4th season, Life made PI also is in its third season.

Apart from these we have Sound Trek which will also have its second season now. Where we face a challenge is in the fact that we have multiple seasons and a lot new ideas too and because these shows are working well we cannot take any one of them off air. Also smaller documentaries like Inside Mahakumbh, Inside IPL, documentary on Mumbai Airport, documentary on The Adani Port and on The Ambani Hospital have also worked in our favor.  

AG: As you have mentioned that you have been focused towards altering your content and programming strategy what made you create such a content and program shift?
Last four years we have produced a lot of local shows like Mission Udaan and Mission navy etc, and they have worked well in our favor. We wanted to cover what our country’s pride is and it is the right time to make the people sitting around the world knows about it hence we thought of digging deep into our country’s evolution.

AG: With broadening your array of shows, have you also widened your target audience group?
Yes, we have widened our target audience and have welcomed a lot of younger audience. Earlier we were targeting 18 to 34 and now we are targeting the age group of 12 to 40 years, which widens our target group to 10 to 18 years as well as 18 to 34 years. ‘Smatertainment’ as a category allowed us to welcome such a widened target audience.

AG: How expensive are these shows viz-a-viz internationally produced shows?
It completely depends upon the kind of show you are creating and producing; some shows are cheaper compared to others and undoubtedly, the locally produced shows are much cheaper than the internationally produced shows. For example a show like mega-factory if would have been made internationally would take 5 years to complete and would cost around 600 to 700 thousand dollars. So, western documentaries are one of the expensive affairs.

AG: With addition of new shows do you still see male audience more viz-a-viz female audience.
Yes our channel still remains a male skewed one but we have witnessed a shift there too where in earlier we used to have a ratio of 65 (males) is to 35 (females), it has come down to 55 (male) is to 45 (females). The last year and half has made us witness this entire shift.   

AG: How has the marketer’s response been for your Indian home-produced shows? Have you witnessed any specific category of clients that have shown interest?
The response has been good. We have been getting a lot of sponsors. In terms of categories of clients we saw a resurgence of mobile phone companies for NGC and a resurgence of FMCG clients for Fox Life.  

AG: You also have a reality format show, ‘Cover shot’, which entered its second season recently, how has been the response in that segment?
As the show evolved around a photography contest, we welcomed a lot more younger audience. We also believe in the fact that it is really important to engage our audiences through varied approaches. The show has been quite successful and we managed to grab desired eyeballs. 

AG: Out of the entire bouquet of shows that you have, which shows have worked for you?
Shows like Mega Structure and Mega Factory have given us good results. Undoubtedly, the new and trending category, ‘smartertainment’ has worked well for us. Also we had shows like Taboo which also gave us good numbers but since we now cater to family audience too, Taboo doesn't work and fit in that thought. I feel mostly all our shows have conventional response therefore making us grab the first spot for a good amount of time.

AG: Another channel from your bouquet, Fox Life, has been in talks, good ones…How has been its journey so far and what was the rationale behind changing the name?
The channel has been two and a half year old and response has been quite encouraging. We strongly believe in changing with success and not change when you are forced to do it. Secondly, we were sensing the need of more content from our viewers. We felt the fact that our audiences aspire for more content which is evolved, interesting and beyond basic travel shows hence we thought of revamping Fox Traveller to Fox Life. The name, ‘Fox life’ allows us to widen our portfolio of shows to lifestyle, food, fashion shows rather than just travel based shows.

AG: How has been the year 2014 for you?
The business was good and some of the shows worked really well for us. There has been a significant growth in the genre too and that is all thanks to the knowledge-driven shows which is what the audience wants to see.

AG: Looking at the response that you mentioned above, what is your plan, mission and vision?
We would be focused towards getting more locally produced shows, a lot more shows on India. Our agenda will be towards building a lot of local connect. We have plans and have a set target to do 4 local productions every year.

AG: What is the content ratio like in terms of International content versus locally produced shows?
On National Geographic Channel we have a ratio of 90 (International) is to 10 (local productions) and on Fox Life we have 75 (International) is to 25 (local productions). 

AG: With so much of shift being witnessed, what trends do you visualize in the coming future?
I believe that there will be a lot of locally produced shows, a lot of local language based shows and like us a lot of other channels will also be seen doing smatertainment shows.  | By Aanchal Kohli | Twitter: @aanchalkohli 


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