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A peep into Times Group-owned WWM’s TV and digital content production plans
MUMBAI: Worldwide Media (WWM), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd (BCCL), is venturing into television and digital content production across lifestyle, infotainment and entertainment genres.
WWM has lined up shows for Discovery Channel, TLC and its group’s TV channels ET Now and Romedy Now.
The company is currently associating with different brands with the help of its own iconic brands in India like ‘Femina’, ‘Top Gear’, ‘Lonely Planet’, ‘Hello! Grazia’ and ‘Good Homes’.
Speaking about the new plans and strategy, WWM CEO Deepak Lamba says, “We are lucky to have the best set of brands especially in the lifestyle and entertainment space. The media landscape has changed over the years, so our clients are looking for vehicles to take the brand and content to more consumers. We realised that if reach is an objective, then it can be easily driven by digital and TV.”
The core idea for the new content is to have the brand at the centre with the concept revolving around it. The company will simultaneously continue to be in print and events, and it will get into TV through fiction and non-fiction shows.
“Each brand will do shows that will make sense for it. Our strategy is simple: We were already on TV with our events, but now with this we will go beyond events through fiction and non-fiction,” adds Lamba.
Around December, WWM will be airing their new TV shows. The first show to air will be a lifestyle show produced by the brand HELLO! and will talk about all things luxurious, from diamonds to cars.
The show will be on Times of India group’s TV channels ET Now and Romedy Now. Lamba explains that the channels wanted to ensure that the show caters to both men and women as not all products are unisex.
For their next show, WWM has collaborated with their brands Top Gear and Lonely Planet to create innovative series that will be a cross between travel and reality. The company has associated with Maruti for the show and will feature seven celebrities on a road trip from Delhi to Bangkok via Asian Highway along with their fans. The show will be aired on Discovery Channel.
With Femina the group is experimenting with few fiction plots that revolve around women’s issues. It is also planning to offer entertainment and engaging content that is backed by a message. With Good Homes, they are creating a home makeover show for TLC. It will be an 8–10-part series, wherein they will talk about decorating home creatively within a limited budget.
The company will also be launching a chat show that will be hosted by Filmfare editor Jitesh Pillai on an English channel.
Lamba states, “We don’t have that first-mover advantage here, so being a 20th chat show, we thought about the key differentiator. For us, the first differentiator is the host. We have our own editor Jitesh Pillai, who is a movie veteran and has been working for around 20 years, but he is not a TV guy. So what makes this chat show stand out is Jitesh’s camaraderie with the stars because he knows them so well. Also, we have done away with the sets because a chat show is all about the stars and their facets. So we have done away with everything that is secondary.”
Investments & challenges
In order to create these shows, WWM has invested in building a special unit for digital and TV that will work closely with the editorial and the brand solutions team to create and sell concepts.
With the positive response, Lamba expects to witness a robust two-digit growth in their P&L. “We have made our investments, and our early success shows that these investments must be paying us in the first year itself. So, it is not something that will hit our P&L,” he claims.
With GECs and publishers like Conde Nast foraying into the space with lifestyle series, the market is getting cluttered, creating stiff competition. Speaking about the challenge, Lamba says that TV is by default an economical way to give content.
“The interesting bit is the proliferation of entertainment channels on TV and the internet. We have several OTT players such as Eros Now, Voot and Netflix. Now, what remains to be seen is how the financial model works out. My personal belief is that data charges need to drop. I think Reliance Jio’s announcement is a welcome change in that direction, but we still need to see data in far more affordable price for the average consumer to enjoy exclusive content,” he observes.
Digital & content syndication
Besides TV production, WWM is also looking into the digital and content syndication space. The group has seen a positive growth of the digital space for Femina. Currently, the group sees 15 million page views and is hoping to have an upward trajectory in the next five to six months. They hope to dominate the digital space with Femina as far as websites for women are concerned.
WWM is strong on social media, with Femina having 2 million and Filmfare having close to 4 million fans on Facebook. Grazia has also seen a significant number of Instagram followers.
This, Lamba believes, puts them in a good situation when meeting clients. “I don’t have to say buy me for my magazine, TV or digital service. I just say that if you want to reach out to women or are in the entertainment or automobile sector, then I am the right person because I will give you great content solutions that will sit across various platforms, as per your choice and budget,” he expresses.
The group is also syndicating content with Reliance Jio, wherein their entertainment and travel channel will be powered by Filmfare and Lonely Planet, respectively. The group will provide around 10 pieces of content to Jio on a daily basis.
WWM hopes to have 20% growth in their topline for this year with a larger chunk coming from TV shows and events. The group, which operates 75 IPs and events across 10 cities, is also planning to expand their regional footprint in North India. They will host the Britannia Filmfare Awards Punjab and expand its category by tapping into music awards.