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Romedy Now plans to reintroduce HD feed soon

MUMBAI: Times Network’s Romedy Now, which has completed two years, is planning to reintroduce the high-definition feed for the channel soon.

Times Network senior VP, head English entertainment channel cluster Vivek Srivastava said that the feed had been closed because it was not feasible. Now, however, distribution platforms are asking for the hybrid channel.

vivek-srivastava-colorsRomedy Now commands 58 per cent market share and has 18 of the top 25 shows in the English GEC category. “It is the hard work that is paying off. Comparatively a very young brand, Romedy Now has outdone many of the older channels in the English GEC category. The channel today commands a 58 per cent share in the English category, which is more than the others put together. 18 of the top 25 shows in the English GEC category are on Romedy Now,” said Srivastava.

Srivastava said that in the second year the channel managed to double ad revenue. “Romedy Now has strong emotional appeal. We don’t try to hard sell the channel.” Categories that are present on the channel include auto, jewellery and FMCG. He noted that effective rates have risen by 50–60 per cent.

How it all began

Srivastava’s predecessor Ajay Trigunayat, who conceptualised the channel, noted that the brand has carved a space for itself. “It was a bold consumer segmentation move that is based on the human values of love, laughter and life. Rather than have a brand based on a product or series or movies, we went this route. The channel is about love and laughter and life. It is encapsulated in the tagline ‘Love Laugh Live.”

Trigunayat noted that the opportunity he saw was very simple. “The fact is that channels tend to play a lot of action, adventure thriller and horror because that is where the bulk of viewership comes from. But there is a huge segment of people who want to watch romance and comedy. They want to watch movies that go with life and family.

ajay-trigunayat“However, they do not find those movies as over 90 per cent of content being played is thriller, horror and adventure. Romance and comedy needed a separate destination altogether. Therefore, we provided this. People who are not driven by action and adventure can come here. A significant number of people consume romance and comedy.”

Trigunayat noted that these people will not consume romance and comedy on a channel that is a mix of all genres. “That is where we said that there is a unique opportunity to create a new destination. I feel that the brand has growing from strength to strength.”

From conceptualisation to launch, there was a gap of more than a year. There were challenges in the early days. “We faced challenges in terms of distribution. That has got sorted out.” He also noted that convincing people including the advertising fraternity of such a proposition was a challenge in the early days. “People believe in demographic segmentation. In broadcasting, people do not do consumer segmentation. People tend to be risk averse. What we did worked well for the brand in terms of consumer response. Advertisers get the unique audience.”

Trigunayat added that it took over six months after launch to convince advertisers.

Creating better balance between movies and TV shows

When Srivastava took over, one of the things he did was have a better balance between movies and TV shows. Earlier, the focus was more on movies. But under Srivastava’s leadership, a band for television shows from 7–9 pm was created. Then ‘Ellen’ was added, and the TV show block now is 6–9 pm. Movies air at 9 pm and at 11 pm. The aim was not to be defensive in terms of putting English entertainment in primetime. The aim was to create a habit to get viewers hooked.

Romedy nowSrivastava noted that viewing habits can be loyal to daypart or a programme. For English entertainment, the daypart habit needs to be intact. Therefore, there was a strong focus on the 7–9 pm band for English entertainment, which subsequently got extended.

A major reason for focusing on television shows more is that romance and comedy movies can be repeated less frequently compared to films in the action, adventure and thriller genres.

“In a romcom, you need to feel for a character. However, after a film three times a viewer’s feelings tend to change. That is why the rest period for a romance or a comedy film is longer. We have to acquire more titles. We got the DNA of the channel right.” He also opined that the era of bundling of English entertainment has gone. The era of segmenting is the one that is currently present.

He noted that the channel’s viewership is split evenly between men and women. “The channel mood is happy. We are the only brand with an emotional connect. We air shows, movies that give you a feel-good factor. Even if you take away movies, we still have leadership in the category. We have a romance basket and a comedy basket. We expand the peripheries. The content has to feel good.”

Localised content on the anvil

Srivastava is also considering localisation. “We might do some local shows but it is too early to say what we will do. It will have to compete with international shows that air on the channel.” In terms of viewership trends, he noted that the smaller towns are coming up and are contributing to viewership.

On air, a thank-you campaign is going on. ‘A Happy Together’ campaign is running. The aim is to thank viewers for showing loyalty.