STAR India's youth general entertainment channel, Channel V, which has just completed a year of its non-musical journey, plans to expand its programming horizon. The channel's general manager and head Prem Kamath tells afaqs! that Channel V is looking at increasing its original programming time band from two hours to three hours.
Kamath says, "We are planning to open up new slots and add a couple of new shows to our portfolio by October, this year. The shows might not be daily as we are looking at airing three shows at the same slot, twice every week. So, if one show airs on Monday-Tuesday, the second will air on Wednesday-Thursday, the third one on Friday-Saturday at the same time band. We are thinking about this as we are seeing that the viewing habit of our target audience is changing. They have a shorter attention span, like experimenting and sampling new shows, like variety of shows. Hence, there is no reason why some kind of disruptive attempt at scheduling should not work."
The whole idea of having multiple shows at the same slot on different days is that the channel wants to explore genres like sitcom and horror that are difficult to pull off on an on-going basis. "Airing them twice a week will give us the flexibility of exploring these options, which are high on production, in terms of timeline and talent," he adds.
The general entertainment turn
The channel, which was a music channel earlier, had completely stopped airing music from July 1, 2012. It took a daring route for a music channel and turned into a Hindi general entertainment channel targeting the youth. It targets the age group of 15-24 years of SEC ABC from the Hindi speaking markets.
Talking about how the strategy to go off-music worked for the channel, Kamath says, "It's been a great year for us. Our biggest challenge was how the advertisers will receive the change, but it has been gratifying! We are able to do CPRP deals which music channels don't do because they work on fixed rates per spot. It's good for us that the shows have been rating consistently. The objective to move off-music was that we were not able to control the content; we weren't able to differentiate and were not able to drive any kind of innovative pricing. And it has all borne fruits since we have exited music and become completely fiction."
According to the TAM figures given by the channel, Channel V ranged around 30-32 GRPs before it moved its positioning. The channel now averages around 45-50 GRPs. Since it has a vast STAR India movie library, it also airs movies everyday at the 8-11 am band.
The path ahead
The channel has also launched an app called VithU which is currently available on Android platforms. Nipa Asharam, VP, marketing, Channel V, says, "We have seen that with the media exposure and what's going on, there is a fear of safety. Hence, Gumrah as a property has become quite relevant. This time we wanted to do something larger with the brand hence, we created this safety app, VithU." With the penetration of smartphones and almost everyone having one, the channel developed this app wherein you just need to click twice and it sends an alert message to four people whose numbers you fed into the system. The app will display your location to your friends. "In a genuine way, we want to help the youth to be safe," Asharam adds.
The show will be extensively promoted on the other channels of the STAR network. For Gumrah, the channel is using outdoor media to talk to the media fraternity and advertisers, and not to communicate with the consumers. The channel changes the creatives of the outdoor every week to reveal the stories that will be shown on Gumrah. The two main cities in the outdoor plan are Mumbai and Delhi.
Channel V will air the deferred live telecast of the first episode of Gumrah on YouTube, which will feature Chitrangada Singh. The show will be hosted by Karan Kundra. The channel will also do a news channel tie-up wherein the latter, in its crime show every week, will do a story on Gumrah or present its take on the show.
The channel has roped in Relispray as the presenting sponsor and Quickheal antivirus as the secured by sponsor. Says Vikram Tanna, VP, sales, Channel V, "Whenever a client comes on board with us we make sure we give a disproportionate value to it. We have tried to integrate the brands in an unconventional way like Gumrah is about safety and hence we have roped in Quickheal as secured by sponsor and it says 'Gumrah-secured by Quickheal Antivirus'. The show will run for 26 episodes.
The channel has an on-ground event property Indiafest, which is expected to be bigger this year. Channel V is also looking at organising standalone concerts in metros with big artists. "We don't have a problem with music but with airing music videos," adds Kamath.
Channel V also runs V Cafes in Gurgaon and Saket and plans to expand the franchise across the country. It plans to adopt the regional franchise model in the hospitality space. The aim is to open 32-35 cafes across the country in the next three years and it has already started exploring and identifying properties in places like Lucknow, Chandigarh and Ludhiana.