BBC has roped in Bazee.com, Virgin Atlantic, JK Tyre and Microsoft for some of the new programmes being launched later this month. While Bazee.com, which is a new partner to the channel, will be sponsoring a new series of vignettes on BBC World, The Smart Minute, for a period of 10 weeks, Virgin Atlantic, JK Tyre and Microsoft will sponsor lifestyle programmes on BBC.
Talking about the advertising exposure through the BBC channel, Sunita Rajan, deputy director, airtime sales, says, "Short form programmes or vignettes give our advertisers a creative opportunity to leverage programming that offers synergies with their brand and communication platform. And of course lifestyle programming allows our advertisers to associate their brands with international quality programmes."
The Smart Minute tracks major developmental leaps in the fields of science and technology during the twentieth century. For Gautam Thakar, CEO, Bazee.com sponsoring The Smart Minute is an opportunity to reach out to the desired audience, "The Smart Minute series details products that enhance a consumers' life, in keeping with Bazee.com's consumer proposition 'the smart way to buy and sell'. Technological innovations are a good fit to reach out to the Bazee.com's Internet savvy audience. To me BBC is the ideal channel for Bazee.com to communicate its proposition."
Virgin Atlantic has come on board for BBC's travel show Holiday. The association of the airline with the show is for 13 weeks starting June 12, 2001. Same is the sponsorship period of JK Tyre with Top gear, the automobile show on BBC World. Additionally, Microsoft will sponsor Future Fantastic, a nine-part series that talks about the world in future.
Apart from visibility at a global level, Rajan cites another important advantage for advertisers - clutter-free advertising environment. "The air time structure for advertising is such that it gives enough breathing space to our advertisers. As per the channel norms, the advertising time allotted to a sponsor is a total of five minutes per hour. For lifestyle programmes, the time period can be extended, depending the nature of the programme. However, for serious programmes we avoid this since it can be very disturbing for the viewer who might lose interest because of frequent breaks."
Clearly, Sunita's agenda is to increase the advertising revenue both internationally as well as from the domestic markets. Just as the international programmes are open for domestic endorsement, so is the India-specific 10-pm strip, also known as Made In India. Currently, of the six programmes in the 10 pm strip - Mastermind India, IT: India Tomorrow, Face to Face, Question Time India, Wheels and India Business Report - only Mastermind India, Face to Face, India IT: India Tomorrow and Wheels are open for sponsorship. Since India Business Report and Question Time fall under the current affairs programme category they are not open for sponsorship.
Despite the fact that only four programmes are open for sponsorship, Rajan claims that the 10 pm strip is doing well in terms of advertiser interest. "Our advertising rates for the 10 pm strip are just right, they vary between $ 900-1,200 per 30 seconds." Face To Face has Virgin Atlantic as its sponsor and Mastermind India, which will be sponsored by Raymond till June 4, 2001, is looking for a new sponsor. The channel is in talks with companies for the same. A fresh series of Mastermind India will be aired from August.
Since BBC is looking at the 10 pm strip as the main driver for ad revenue, the obvious question is : does BBC plan to launch programmes in regional languages to increase viewership. "We don't have such plans," insists Rajan, "simply because we are not a mass media channel such as Zee. BBC reaches out to a very select audience - English-speaking business decision-makers in India. In the past our marketing and sales initiatives have encouraged a favourable response from the target audience. Since inception in India in 1995 we have grown to 11.5 million homes with and have had over 75 brands associated with the channel. Moreover programmes such Hospital - the first ever 'reality' documentary made in India, which follows daily life at Delhi-based The All India Institute of Medical Sciences - is an indication of our commitment to creating interesting programmes for the 10-pm strip."
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