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Epic Channel to transition from a Hindi GEC to an infotainment channel

MUMBAI: Epic Television Networks is changing the positioning of its Indian history- and mythology-focused Hindi GEC Epic Channel to an infotainment channel.

The new tagline of the channel will be ‘India ka infotainment channel’ (India’s infotainment channel). The channel will transition to infotainment positioning in June. The existing fiction content on the channel will be gradually phased out in the next few months.

In the infotainment genre, Epic will be up against global factual entertainment biggies Discovery Channel, NGC and History TV18.

According to a source, the channel will launch 5–7 localised non-fiction shows in the next 3–4 months. Some of the genres it will be looking at are history, sports and travel. Unlike conventional infotainment channels, Epic will target male as well as female audiences.

The programming line-up, which will be revealed soon, includes a show hosted by the swashbuckling former Indian opening batsman Virender Sehwag.

The source added that a clear-cut positioning was the need of the hour to make the channel relevant. What also prompted the company to change the positioning was the confusion in the trade about Epic’s genre.

Though the channel is a Hindi GEC technically, it is known more for its non-fiction content. As per its website, the channel has three fiction shows and 16 nonfiction shows including one hosted by Mahesh Bhatt titled ‘Khwaabon Ka Safar’.

The source stated that the channel has 80% penetration in the Hindi-speaking market (HSM), which will go up to 90–95% in the next 1–2 months.

In fact, Epic is already available in the infotainment genre on most distribution platforms barring few direct-to-home (DTH) platforms.

Launched on 19 November 2014, the channel has found it difficult to find a foothold in the cluttered Hindi GEC market despite a differentiated content offering.

“Epic will be positioned as an India-centric Hindi infotainment channel. We want to broaden our audience base with a clear-cut positioning. Infotainment shows have done well on the channel. The fiction shows will be gradually phased out,” said a company source preferring anonymity.

This is the first major move after India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani sold his stake in the company to Mahindra Group CMD Anand Mahindra. Mahesh Samat, who was also co-founder of the channel, had exited the company in September 2016. Samat later joined Disney India as its head in October.

The company had roped in Pittie Group CEO Aditya Pittie as a director. In his role, Pittie is leading the day-to-day operations of the linear TV channel, focusing on all the commercial functions of revenue and expenditure. He is also responsible for facilitating stronger monetisation and alliances with advertisers and MSOs.

Speaking on the new direction of the channel, Epic TV Networks director Aditya Pittie said, “The infotainment genre is a content-driven destination colonised by international players and syndicated programming with infrequent home-grown shows available. There is an evident and growing discrepancy in what is available and what popular sentiment demands. In this divide is the opportunity that Epic is best positioned to capitalise on.”

“We Indians, as people, are very emotional. So, instead of treading the predictable path of logic-driven sterilised content, the content showcased on Epic is just like India—an honest portrayal of the passions and emotions that make us who we are.”

Talking about the Sehwag show, Pittie said, “This is the first TV show that Sehwag is hosting and he is a perfect fit for the Epic brand.”