MUMBAI, December 7
For agencies vying for the National Geographic account, there's one more to pitch for. Called Alive, the channel will be broadcast from Australia and Israel, and will be available across Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, starting February 5, 2001. Talking to agencyfaqs!, Ann Tsang, director (marketing), Alive Networks, said, "Though we have not appointed an advertising agency as yet, advertising and promotional activities will be extensive and broad-reaching. We are currently finalising our marketing plan and budgets."
Tsang's urgency is understandable. Alive is pitted against two highly popular special interest channels in the region - Discovery and National Geographic - both of which cater to a very similar audience.
Alive, for the moment, will focus on two specific areas - travel and leisure. This would include destinations, adventure, photography, shopping, food, fashion, languages and health and fitness. Locally commissioned programmes will complement internationally acquired content in an effort to tap the essence of particular markets. "But the emphasis, in any case, will remain on travel," says a company source.
Rightfully so, since travel is arguably the world's largest business today. In Asia alone, personal travel and tourism generates around $ 500 billion of business every year, and it is expected to grow by 38 per cent between 2000 and 2010. TV channels which cater to this market, primarily Discovery and lately, National Geographic, command reverent loyalty among viewers and advertisers. Discovery was the first off the blocks when it launched Discovery Travel & Adventure as a programming block within the main channel in India. Next it was the turn of National Geographic.
Talking to agencyfaqs!, a National Geographic executive had said, "The channel wants to show that it is not just about wildlife programming but also has great programmes on adventure, exploration, science, travel and natural history." That was around the time the channel launched its first major India-centric programme - "A Month in India", which showcased country-relevant programming to the audiences of Indian and other Asian countries. Thereafter the channel went on to create history of sorts by crossing a subscription figure of 20 million in C&S (cable & satellite) homes in the Asia Pacific region in September. The feat, accomplished in a period of two years, made it one of the fastest growing television channels in Asia.
Faced against such competition, it's going to be an uphill task for Alive right from day one. However, the management is optimistic and is banking on its multi-media platform - involving, apart from its satellite channel, web sites, mobile devices and print material - to give it a sustainable advantage. Tsang said, "Irrespective of who our competition may be, we aim to make our content 'inclusive' for the user. Regional research shows that people in Asia love to travel, have a thirst for knowledge and prefer high quality documentary content. Where we differ from any other organisation is that our integrated concept encourages users to learn, explore and act."
Alive has also revealed plans to repackage its acquired content to suit local audiences and tastes, right from the word go if necessary. Significant, since Discovery and National Geographic took their time in 'Indianising', but have hit pay-dirt ever since. Tsang confirmed that while the TV channel would remain the prime source of revenue, "…there would be major opportunities for advertisers to buy integrated packages across all platforms, whether online, mobile or print. Sale of print material and online transactions would also contribute to revenue."
On the mode of distribution, chairman and chief executive of Alive Networks, Ian Henry, said, "We will work with cable system operators on a market-by-market basis to explore partnerships and revenue-sharing opportunities." Plans indicate launch of more channels by Alive Network at a later stage.
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