The Bengali GEC (general entertainment channel) space already appeared crowded, with as many as seven players vying for viewers' eyeballs. The launch of yet another GEC, Ruposhi Bangla, raises the question as to whether audiences have the appetite for a further dose of entertainment.
Besides Ruposhi Bangla, the other GECs in this space are STAR Jalsha, Zee Bangla, ETV Bangla, Aakaash Bangla, DD7, NE Bangla and R-Plus.
The new GEC is an offering from Rose Valley Group, a business conglomerate with diversified interests in real estate, finance and education. This is the group's first foray into the audio-visual and entertainment space.
Speaking to afaqs!, Gautam Kundu, chairman, Rose Valley Group, says, "We have entered the market with a strong conviction that the regional space has scope for growth of another entertainment channel. We have earmarked Rs 500 crore for our entertainment business, as part of which, we will be soon coming out with a news and current affairs channel, a music channel and a cartoon channel."
Interestingly, Rose Valley Group started off as a chit fund company and moved towards other businesses.
Analysing the prospects of the new entrant in the Bengali GEC market, Tarun Nigam, executive director, India-North and Pakistan, Starcom Worldwide, says, "The biggest hurdle that the channel faces is the distribution network -- the existing GECs have a strong hold on it. Ruposhi Bangla is claiming to have distribution in place, but the major distribution networks -- Hathway and Den -- belong to Zee and STAR."
He also points out that Ruposhi Bangla has entered the market through a dance format based show, in which Zee Bangla is very strong.
According to Nigam, the total spends in the West Bengal market last year was Rs 220 crore. This year, it is projected at Rs 250 crore, of which the GEC stake hovers at 75-80 per cent.
To grab a significant share in the ad pie, any new entrant has to have its distribution in place, along with strong programming to take on the current, established players.
Ruposhi Bangla has got popular faces on-board, such as Rituparna Sengupta, Indrani Halder, Annu Kapoor and Saroj Khan. The channel's fiction offering includes shows such as Sandhyapradip (the story of a little girl born with the blessings of goddess Lakshmi), Jao Pakhi (a story about women trafficking), Somoy (a modern-day version of the Mahabharata), and Payer Talar Mati (a woman claiming her rightful place in a patriarchal society).
The comedy genre is represented by shows including Sonay Sohaga (a sitcom) and Dashavatar (a comical costume drama, where participants impersonate famous individuals). The most expensive show on Ruposhi Bangla, shares Kundu, is its reality show, Chance Pe Dance, made at an investment of Rs 5 crore.
He is of the view that with high production values, Ruposhi Bangla will bring in glamour, differentiation to the content available and will definitely provide value and scale, translating into sampling for the channel.
Sen also believes that the organisation should be able to cash out the distribution as well, since it is a real-estate conglomerate. The challenge for Ruposhi Bangla would be to tackle competition from existing GEC players, a few of which are also into offering news to viewers, along with the staple entertainment diet.
Clearing the air on distribution issues, Kundu of Rose Valley Group shares that the group has taken the necessary steps to ensure almost 100 per cent presence in West Bengal, Tripura and Assam.
To build curiosity around the GEC, Rose Valley Group launched a high-profile advertising and marketing campaign. It took spots on most of the GECs and news channels, such as STAR Ananda and Aakaash Bangla.
In print, it chose publications including Anand Bazar Patrika, Bartaman and Ganoshakti and carried advertisements in almost all the popular dailies of Tripura.
The channel had more than 1,000 outdoor hoardings; four attractively branded mobile vans also went around the cities to announce the launch of Ruposhi Bangla.