Love and laughter, on the same platter

By Raushni Bhagia , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | August 29, 2013
Times Television Network will launch the new channel by mid-September in the SD and HD versions.

Times Television Network (TTN) has announced its fifth channel, to be launched in the English entertainment category. Christened Romedy Now, the channel boasts the tagline, 'Love. Laugh. Live' in a bright yellow colour and claims to be the only channel dedicated to the sub genre of romance.

Romedy Now

From left: Sunil Lulla, Ajay Trigunayat & Harsh Sheth at the launch of Romedy Now

Although the English entertainment genre has grown 98 per cent since 2009, TTN claims that it doesn't have a single channel dedicated to 'romance'. Romedy Now will target audiences in the age group of 15-24 years. It will be launched with a programming line-up of movies. TV series will be brought on later.

The network will extend its existing relationship with studios such as Warner, Fox, Disney, MGM and Sony, amongst others, to source content for the new channel. It has already acquired movies such as 27 Dresses and The Ugly Truth.

Ajay Trigunayat, CEO, English Entertainment Channels, Times Television Network, says, "We already have enough content for the first financial year. There are a few deals lined up for October."

Being a contemporary channel, Romedy Now will feature recent movies. Harsh Sheth, associate business head, Romedy Now, reveals that contrary to expectations, it will not be a female-skewed channel. Pre launch research reveals that a substantial proportion of the male audience in the target age group consumes romantic content. Sheth adds, "We got a real interesting result in our study that more males watch the romantic stuff than females. The ratio is skewed by 65 to 35."

The English entertainment category reaches out to over 150 million television viewers on a monthly basis. However, the industry unanimously agrees that the genre continues to be highly under-valued and under-monetised in terms of both advertising and subscription revenues.

Most of the marketing for the new channel will start on the day of the launch. The group will largely bank on its flagship brand, Times of India. "A fairly large ad in TOI is enough to communicate the launch to the viewers." The promos will be utilised on both TV and digital to beef up the reach and opportunity to see (OTS).

The existing channel from the network, Movies Now, is also an English movie channel. Will the two eat into each other's audiences? Trigunayat disagrees. "Movies Now is led by action, adventure and thriller, while Romedy Now is clearly a love and laughter channel. The latter is about adrenaline and Romedy Now is about emotion," he explains.

With digitisation, a fragmentation within all the genres was expected and here comes the first one (after comedy) within the English entertainment space. Why now?

Trigunayat explains the volatility of the television space, and adds that the leadership keeps changing almost every quarter. "We wanted to settle the first channel, Movies Now, before launching the new one. Though we conceptualised Romedy Now about two years back, the full-fledged work started about a year ago. We wanted DAS I and II to settle down," he justifies.

Sunil Lulla, managing director and chief executive officer, Times Television Network, says, "We have four strong brands and we are growing that cache. We believe in the urban affluent audience space and we want to invest in it and hence we have created this service to cater to that segment. Four channels in eight years is a good move. We don't have a rush to go out there unless we have a good audience proposition."

The paid channel will be available in both HD and SD versions on all platforms including cable, DTH, IPTV and emerging technologies.

Speaking about the possibilities of further fragmentation within the English movies genre, Trigunayat says, "Horror has a lot of potential but India has a lot of censorship issues around it."

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