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FYI TV18 eyes break-even in 3rd year

MUMBAI: FYI TV18, the second channel launched by AETN-TV18, is available in four languages and is targeting break-even in the third year.

Network18 president strategy, product and alliances, A+E Networks TV 18 MD Avinash Kaul said that the channel is available in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.

Launched on 4 July, FYI TV18 aims to reach 90 million homes at the end of the year.

Avinash Kaul“We will be paying carriage fee, but the situation has become better compared to a few years back. The aim is to break even in the third year. The channel is being bundled and is in free view for a year,” said Kaul.

The market gap

Kaul noted that Hindi GECs are targeting the rural markets with content that is not progressive and can instead be regressive. That is because BARC gives rural data and a huge audience has been opened up. He admitted that this strategy has clicked, but it also means that an opportunity has opened up. The English entertainment channels, meanwhile, are watched by a small audience base. In between there is a gap that needs to be addressed.

“With a new measurement system, 100 million viewers from rural India got added. All the main GECs adapted. New TV sets will get added in the rural belt. Content has become regressive. GECs are focusing on the bottom of the pyramid. So there is a gap for progressive content. We are seeing players like Netflix trying to cater to this gap. We aim to do this with Hindi content without getting dramatic and over the top in our treatment.

“FYI TV18 is not targeting the bottom of the pyramid. We are targeting the middle and top end. There are viewers of Hindi content who want cerebral content. The channel is for young India.”

The channel’s target group is SEC A, B 15+. “Our aim is to scale up so that we have 40% local content. We will be doing eight to nine local shows in a year. Relationships are the bedrock of what we do. All or at least many people should be able to sample our content. When we commission a show, the aim is to have progressive content. Our channel is not about edgy, voyeuristic content.”

For Kaul, the clear USP is the channel’s focus on relationships. Competition does not do this. “The factual entertainment channel’s pillars are relationships, food and home improvement. Relationships are at the base of our content. That is the difference between this channel and History TV18. History TV18 is an individualistic experience. FYI TV18 has a more inclusive nature. The tonality of content is at an eye level as a friend. It is not preachy. We provide a personalised viewing experience and avoid the conventional top-down approach.”

What about the channel’s name? The ‘I’ in the name stands for whatever one wants it to mean. It could be imagination, inspiration, etc.

Localisation

The local shows are being made in Hindi. For people who have not opted for a Hindi feed, there are subtitles for the local shows.

The first two local shows are hosted by author Chetan Bhagat and Chef Vicky Ratnani. Bhagat’s show is called ‘Real 2 States Couples’ and follows the travails of a cross-cultural couple in a relationship trying to adjust to each other’s families.

The other show hosted by Ratnani is called ‘Rivals-in-Law’. It features a cook-off between a daughter-in-law and her mother-in-law. The husband is the judge. The couple in this case is well into their marriage unlike the other show.

Kaul added that a third local show will launch in the middle of August and will be on home improvement. “Our content must travel across geographies. Relatability is crucial for our content. The focus is on simple but must-see content. Our local shows air during primetime.”

Ratnani said that he was nervous as he had been used to doing instructional cooking content. Now he had to control the most difficult triangle—husband, wife and mother-in-law. For him the show was like running a kitchen.

“Food is a therapy that can make a relationship good. I learnt to be a better son and a better husband. Food today is not just about taste but a fun recreation process. Add to it the spice of relationships and you have a heady mix of entertainment without parallel. It was great fun hosting the show and I think that it will set a high benchmark for the industry.”

Bhagat, meanwhile, noted that it was not always that an author gets to do a TV show. “‘2 States’ is an apt name. It has become a term. I was told that a new channel was coming up and was looking for cerebral but must-see content.”

“The production team was very good. It was a different challenge to speak Hindi. India’s youth today are major change agents driving social transformation. One of the best examples of this is inter-cultural marriage, which has been brilliantly captured in our new series. I’ve been personally very entertained by these confident young people, and I’m sure our viewers will love them too,” Bhagat stated.

Advertising

On the advertising front, the channel has three to four advertisers and is getting more on board. “I would expect our premium India shows to fetch Rs 5,000–6,000 for a 10-second spot. The other shows will fetch around Rs 1,000,” Kaul said. He added that advertisers have expressed interest in branded partnerships.

Growth potential

Kaul said that there is scope for more channels in India. Unlike the US and Europe, India is a market where television has not reached saturation. He noted that in the past foreign companies would bring in international content and hope that it would work.

“Now even MNCs look at local content. India is almost fully digitised. Even 800 channels are not enough. Smaller countries have a larger number of channels vis-a-vis the population,” he said.