Content is Sony BBC Earth’s biggest brand ambassador: Tushar Shah

Premium factual entertainment channel Sony BBC Earth has completed its first year in India. Launched by MSM Worldwide Factual Media, a joint venture between Sony Pictures Networks India and BBC Worldwide, Sony BBC Earth went live on March 6, 2017 after being in the pipeline for quite some months. 

Within a year of its launch, Sony BBC Earth has emerged as the No. 1 channel in the Metros as per the latest *BARC TG: 15-40 AB Market – All India 1Mn+ Period – Week 11, 2018 (All Day), making it the fastest growing channel in the infotainment category. 

From being the No. 6 channel when it was launched a year ago, the channel has seen a steady increase in viewership that is clearly reflected in its performance. Sony BBC Earth stands at No. 1 position with 22 per cent market share backed by a strong distribution network, strategic content line-up and robust marketing innovations. 

Commenting on the occasion, Tushar Shah, EVP and Business Head, English Cluster, Sony Pictures Networks India, said, “Our strategy of keeping Sony BBC Earth a pureplay factual entertainment channel, in a category that is driven by entertainment, has worked very well, making us the No. 1 channel in the Indian metros, within a such a short time-span.” 

The channel celebrated this achievement with New York Times bestselling author, renowned TV presenter and award-winning medical journalist Dr Michael Mosley. 

Dr Mosley, an India-born international legend, hosts shows like ‘Trust Me I’m a Doctor’, ‘Meet the Humans’, ‘The Truth about Exercise’, etc., that are extremely popular internationally and air exclusively in India on Sony BBC Earth. 

Dr Mosley commented, “I was born in India, and lived the first few years of my life here. I’m very excited to be here again, seeing it from a different point of view, and talking about common health and wellness issues and myths. I hope that the latest series of ‘Trust Me I’m a Doctor’ will resonate with Sony BBC Earth viewers and provide them with information that will help them live better, healthier lives.” 

Adgully, in a roundtable interaction, with Tushar Shah, EVP and Business Head, English Cluster, Sony Pictures Networks India and Dr Michael Mosley, traces Sony BBC Earth’s one-year journey in India, the content strategy, road ahead and more. Excerpts: 

How has the journey been for Sony BBC Earth in India?
The journey has been excellent and full of learnings. It’s a gratifying journey of one year. The channel was launched as the 8th channel and today it’s right on top in the infotainment segment. It is extremely gratifying, very fulfilling and all our efforts have paid off. 

What are the challenges that you came across in this journey?
We came across several challenges. But what we also realised was that infotainment as a category was turning more entertaining and that actually created an opportunity for us, because when we researched in the market we figured out that people were looking for content that is pure factual and full of life. I think that’s what we have provided to the viewers and that seems to be working well for us. 

How do you see Infotainment as a category growing in this country?
Basically, it really depends on how you want to look at it. But overall, yes it has grown. I think in terms of a category itself it has developed a lot in the past one year and has seen growth, and along with it the channel has grown as well. 

How do you stand apart as a one-stop destination for infotainment in this competitive era?
The fact is that the kind of content that Sony BBC Earth showcases is real, it’s factual, it is full of life and is a grand visual spectacle. That’s the kind of content we don’t get to see anywhere else. We are not driven by what our competitors do, but we are driven by what we have and we are extremely confident that the kind of content that we have in the long run will continue to pay us rich dividends. 

Which is the agency behind the latest campaign?
We have a huge bunch of in-house talent who have conceptualised the new brand film. 

How do you view 2018 for Sony BBC Earth?
For 2018, we have got some amazing plans. We have ‘Planet Earth 2’, which was there last year. We have ‘Blue Planet 2’ line up, which is something really breathtaking. Overall, we have some excellent plans and a lot of programmes coming your way and I’m sure that viewers will continue to accept and watch us. 

What would be your strategy for Sony BBC Earth going forward?
I can’t answer the strategy part. But yes, our aim is to be on the top. We have learnt a very important thing, which is – patience is an important key in this market. Numbers are not easy to come by, but both the viewers and the trade have accepted us. 

Could you tell us about the key tie-ups?
Tie-ups are a natural thing. Throughout the year there are some tie-ups that keep on happening from a marketing perspective. But, in everything that we do there is love for the natural world that makes things come alive. 

What are the segments that you cater to?
The viewership is pretty much universal. It’s not that there are only certain segments who view the channel. But from the overall ratings perspective, it’s the 15-40 age group in A+ and A Markets that we really targeting right now. 

What is Sony BBC Earth’s viewership share?
We have covered a long way – from a 5 per cent share last year to 22 per cent currently. It’s clear that viewers want infotainment. They want something that not only entertains them, but also gives them information. We have one of the most interesting and watched shows on our channel which is hosted by Dr Michael Mosley. The show has built up a huge fan following over time. We will continue to bring such great content with great visual spectacle to our viewers round the year. 

Dr Mosley, you believe in a lot of experimentation. Why so?
Dr Michael Mosley: We have a world full of assumptions and in order to get rid of them, we have to experiment. From a television point-of-view, there is much more interesting and entertaining content which can be termed as drama. Traditionally, in science people would come and tell you stuff. Infotainment, as Tushar said, is information given with a pinch of entertainment. It is engaging and people learn more. We learn things through failures, by making mistakes and stupidity. 

There was a time when I infected myself with a tapeworm and had a pill camera. I used this latest piece of technology which takes 18 pictures per second and will send it to your smartphone. You can use a magnet to move the camera inside your body because it’s a metal camera. It takes 30 hours to come out at the other end of the body. This is a whole new internal world. 

Tushar, are you planning to do any cookery show on the channel with Dr Mosley?
We’ll certainly consider it. At this point of time there is nothing on the table, but now that the topic has come up, I’ll surely consider it. (Laughs) 

Is Kareena Kapoor still the brand ambassador of the channel?
No, the contract is over and Kareena is no more associated with us. Shilpa Shetty is not the new face of the channel, but she is a fitness and health icon in India. When we launched, we needed visibility, but now the biggest brand ambassador that we have for our channel is our content and nothing speaks louder than that.

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