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Sony BBC Earth will be a top-3 player within a year: NP Singh
MUMBAI: Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) CEO NP Singh is clear that Sony BBC Earth will be a top-3 player in the infotainment space within a year of launch, both in terms of revenue as well as viewership share.
Sony BBC Earth, which will launch on 6 March at 8 pm, will compete in a genre that earns around Rs 1,500 crore a year. While the ad pie in the infotainment genre is pegged at Rs 500-600 crore, subscription revenue is Rs 900-1,000 crore.
“We have great content from BBC. We also have the distribution strength as we are part of a network of very strong TV channels. So we should be in the top three in a year’s time,” said Singh.
Sony BBC Earth will also be on the OTT platform of SPNI. “The channel will be on Sony Liv in September and will be a paid offering,” SPNI EVP, head digital business Uday Sodhi told TelevisionPost.com.
Sony BBC Earth will launch with 19 hours of original programming every week and has defined programming slots to differentiate itself from competition.
This programming strategy is based on research of what consumers want at different times. There are different programming slots. For instance, nature and wildlife content is being showcased at 9 pm.
‘Why, How and What on Earth’ airs at 8 pm. It is dedicated to fun and insightful science with shows like ‘Trust Me I’m A Doctor’, ‘Bang Goes the Theory’ and ‘Secrets of Everything’.
‘Wild Wild Earth’ at 9 pm is about nature and wildlife with shows like ‘Planet Earth 2’.
‘Earth Explorers’ at 10 pm is for adventure and human-interest stories with shows like ‘Life Below Zero’ and ‘Where The Wild Men Are With Ben Fogle’.
Over the weekend, there is a slot called ‘Earth Specials’. Launch shows on the channel will include ‘The Hunt’, ‘Where the Wild Men Are With Ben Fogle’, ‘Trust Me I’m A Doctor’ and ‘Snow Chick’.
SPNI executive VP, business head, English cluster Saurabh Yagnik noted that there is a science behind the scheduling strategy. The channel’s USP is the visual appeal, offering a new perspective and relying on positive, insightful storytelling. A good example of positive, insightful storytelling is ‘Planet Earth 2’, narrated by Sir David Attenborough. It brings to life stories on wildlife from the perspective of animals.
“We spoke to 2,000 people and spent 1,000 man hours to find out the right proposition. The channel and its content focus on the natural world, which causes subliminal happiness. The aim is to put happiness, well-being in people’s minds. We partnered Kareena, who loves natural history. She is full of life and has subliminal happiness.”
Yagnik said that the gap in the genre is that nobody has a sharp, differentiated positioning. “So, we took the emotional route of ‘Feel Alive’. Kareena Kapoor’s personality resonates with the emotion that we want audiences to feel. Our TG is young, upwardly mobile and affluent. We are focusing on megacities and towns.”
With the tagline ‘Feel alive’, the channel has roped in Kareena Kapoor Khan as the brand ambassador.
On the revenue front, subscription and ad sales will be equally important. In terms of distribution, the aim is to drive more subscribers than price it at a premium. That is because price inflection is important in the country. Yagnik also said that BBC Earth boosts SPNI’s premium offerings. On the ad sales front, he is confident that the channel’s distinct positioning will attract clients.
Viewership for the infotainment genre is just 1.2% of the total TV viewing universe. The channel’s TG is 15–45, and it is targeting the metros and 1 million+ plus towns and cities. The aim is to broad-base the channel’s appeal over time. Yagnik expects viewer split to be 55:45 in favour of males, which is line with what is being seen in the genre.
BBC Worldwide president, global markets, Paul Dempsey noted that his company’s relationship with SPNI has been a long one and started with the production business. For example, AXN airs shows like ‘Sherlock’ and ‘Top Gear’. The JV for the channel was the next step.
He said that, according to research, BBC Earth is the next brand that Indians connect with after BBC World News. However, there are no plans yet to launch more channels like BBC First and BBC Brit in the country.
He emphasised the strong connection between BBC Worldwide and SPNI as brands. Sony, he said, will do the day-to-day decisions as they are strong on the ground. “We have input on editorial and brand strategy. It is important that the channel feels similar to what it is in the other 39 markets and at the same time has a distinct flavour.”
No rush for localisation
The infotainment genre at the moment is seeing a big push in terms of localisation. Market leader Discovery, for instance, will be launching 200 hours of local content in 2017.
Yagnik, however, is not in a hurry to push the local content button. That is because the skill sets needed to produce content at this level are of a different and high order. Content costs millions of dollars and local content created in the country must travel in order to be financially justified.
Yagnik further stated that viewership is not being disproportionately driven by local content. It is mainly the tentpole local properties that are recalled. Even when it takes the plunge into local content, it cannot be more important than the channel’s brand and imagery. That has to be maintained at all times. The brand’s look and feel cannot be compromised.
Kareena Kapoor Khan said that the channel is giving viewers the chance to explore the world of mind-blowing visuals and never-seen-before facts.
“My personal four favourite programmes that I believe you should not miss at any cost are ‘Snow Chick’, a heart touching story of a penguin from birth to adulthood narrated beautifully by Kate Winslet; the ‘Planet Earth Series 1, 2’, which feature great stories and even greater storytelling. This show is a must watch for anyone who loves nature and wildlife. Then there is ‘Where the Wild Men Are with Ben Fogle’. It is amazing how Ben Fogle explores unknown civilisations and shares their rare stories. ‘The Hunt’ explores a unique relationship between the prey and predator—another must-watch.”
As reported earlier by TelevisionPost.com, Sony BBC Earth has inked a clutch of distribution deals. Deals have been done with direct-to-home (DTH) service providers Tata Sky, Airtel Digital TV and Reliance Digital TV. The infotainment channel will also be present on cable networks Hathway, DEN, GTPL, InDigital, Fastway, Manthan, UCN, Ortel and Kerala Vision.