Exclusive | The journey of FX has just began: Star India's Kevin Vaz

While niche channels earlier meant largely travel and lifestyle focused content, channels like FX from the Star India stable along with a few others have taken it up to themselves to change this notion.  Pushing hard to up the bet, FX, has been seen high on activity since the last few months and that, channel custodians say has proved beneficial for the channel and is reflected in numbers.

The English General Entertainment category has evolved over the last 1-2 years with channels cautiously picking content that they perceive will be liked by Indian audiences, upping the game on the marketing and promotional activities front and turning the whole category into a more competitive space all together.

If numbers are studied, since the last year (Jul –Dec 13’) Star India’s English GEC offering - FX has been gradually climbing up the ladder in the competition. Moving from an average weekly relative share of 11% during the Jan – Jun ‘2013 timeframe, FX has recorded to a 21% average weekly relative share by year end (Dec 13’).

Adgully caught up with Kevin Vaz, Business Head for English Channels, Star India to know more on this feat, content strategy and more.

Citing what stands as the probable reason for the achievement, Vaz said, “Let’s go back seven to eight months back when we had made drastic changes in our programming strategies. We started getting some of the most iconic shows like Fringe etc. on the channel and then from there onwards month on month the channel has tried to touch newer heights in terms of growth, time spent and reach. I believe we have achieved it to some extend as well!”

In July 2014, the channel team decided to further enhance their programming and brought in some of the hugely popular and iconic shows like ‘The Listener’; ‘The Guardian’ and ‘Breaking Bad’ (June 2014) and ‘Walking Dead’.
Registering a 85% growth in the last 6 months, FX managed to beat its opponents with a remarkable average weekly of 1091 GVTs [TG: CS 15+ AB | Weekly GVTs] emerging as the category leader. FX has lead the charts across 23 individual weeks through 26 weeks this year and now dominates the category with an average viewership share of 33%.

Since such content is usually male skewed, FX, outdoing competition, has garnered a 29% increase in male viewership as compared to AXN, that also caters to a male centric market which saw a 25%, drop in the last 6 months [TG: CS Males 25+ SEC AB | Weekly GVTs]. This, channel custodians claim is at the back of evidently superior content like The X-Files, Prison Break and The West Wing.

“FX is leading the category across 8 Metros with 33% relative share of viewership and the 4 main Metros (Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore) which sees a 32% relative share of viewership (All India 1 Mn+ in Yr 2014),” added Vaz.

If numbers are taken into account, FX, gaining momentum from the #4 position in the first half of 2013, the channel moved up to the #2 spot by Dec, 2013 within the genre. According to the 2014 numbers, there has been further ascend as FX became the most preferred destination for English Entertainment, dislodging all other established players to lead the category consistently ranking #1 for 12 weeks straight (Week 9 to Wk 20, 2014 – end of Feb to mid-May). Currently, the channel boasts of a weekly reach of 2.3 Million which is the highest in the category (Wk 24-26, 2014 | CS 15+ AB | 1 Mn+).

Speaking about the channel’s edge over competition, Vaz mentioned, “We believe in giving our viewers ‘what is edgy’ and ‘caters to different people’. We do have regular shows like comedies and family entertainment but at the same time we have shows like ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘X-Files’ for people who like such content. Our clear-cut and straight programming philosophy is what makes us stand ahead of the curve.”

While programming strategy is in place, Vaz believes that ‘Content is king’ and that has made the channel win the situation. However, looking at the evolution and growth of the industry concerning all the verticals possible, it is equally important to market and promote the channel rightly. Expressing his view on the same, he said, “We are coming up with a very big marketing plan and an interesting campaign which will be running across our channels. The campaign stands high for the channel’s growth and will be highlighting what the channel stands for - ‘Edge of Entertainment.’ The campaign will be spread across all the platforms from TV, radio and print to OOH and digital”.

Vaz informs that along with FX, Star India’s English entertainment team has tied up with the biggest studios across the globe and stands the first chance to see what’s on offer from them and subsequently, be the first ones to broadcast it in India. “Be it Disney, Sony, Fox, Universal; all the iconic shows from these studios come to us first. We have the freshest content, especially on channels like Star World Premier. Numbers will always be an indicator to the reach and popularity of the of the channel and good shows which create a buzz will get more advertisers,” said Vaz.

The channel has on setting more aggressive goals as far as ad sales are concerned and looking to sell more inventory this year. Sources state that while currently, FX sells, three to five minutes of ad per hour on FX, they are looking at scaling it up to eight to ten minutes. They also state that while there are network deals which occur on the whole category of English entertainment, there are specialised teams for each channel that also work on Spot buys and sponsorships which are equally important. 

This, we believe is on the back on the channel’s performance through the last few months and on the belief that advertisers across categories shall not shy away from coming to FX along with other channels from the Star India’s network as well, as each channel has something different to offer and caters to different set of audiences. This, they believe opens more doors for advertisers across categories like telecom, automobile, BFSI, e-commerce. With numerous auto launches that lay ahead in the year and e-commerce outfits pulling up their business gears, the channel and the network sees these along with primary FMCG category to be coming to channel more now on.

FX, claiming to have earned an unfailing reputation of engaging viewers with the most iconic and award winning television content, is yet again set to bring to its viewers, a line-up that they would be looking forward to. It is interesting to highlight that FX has consistently had 2 or 3 shows among the top 5 shows in the English GEC category each week in the year 2014.

Posing a well balanced mix of critically acclaimed and popular shows, FX will now have Emmy Award winning shows in the 2nd quarter of 2014 including Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead and The Guardian. The Walking Dead is set to air on the 16th of July, Mon-Fri at10pm.  The 66th Primetime Emmy® Awards has also seen FX favourites, Breaking Bad garner 15 nominations across categories and The Walking Dead, 2.

While channel heads do not wish to cease this achievement journey anytime soon, we at Adgully wish them luck!


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