Romedy Now wanders in 'familiar' territory

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | September 23, 2015
The channel, having turned two, has announced more familiar shows with a view to stick to its 'strip programming' schedule.

Romedy Now, Times Network's English general entertainment channel is a brand that started out as a movie channel, but introduced television series last year, adopting a 'hybrid content' philosophy.

Romedy Now

How I Met Your Mother

The target group for the channel is 15-44 year olds from SEC A, B. For shows, it has been banking on brands like 'Friends', 'Witches of East End', '2 Broke Girls', 'Friends with Better Lives', 'Jane the Virgin' and 'Gilmore Girls'. In its new line-up, it has added familiar sitcoms like 'Hot in Cleveland' and 'How I Met Your Mother.' The only fresh content comes in the form of 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show' - which is airing alongside its US telecast.

The channel seems to follow a plan to stick to safe, well-known shows, based on the idea that fresh acquired content could lead to a checkerboard format (once a week airing), which doesn't do that well as audiences now don't follow that kind of viewing habit. Vivek Srivastava, senior vice president & head English Entertainment Cluster, Times Network, says, "There is hardly any checkerboard programming on television across the board, whether you look at TV series or news shows or kids channels. In India, the strip format is well-established.

The channel follows a strip format presentation (where a property runs on the same slot from Monday to Friday or Monday to Saturday). This is based on the idea that if the property for a particular slot changes on a daily basis, it doesn't get the requisite viewers. Srivastava adds, "We did not run 'Jane the Virgin' simultaneously with the US, even though we had the rights. We wanted to give our viewers the strip format. 'Ellen', on the other hand, is a daily chat format show internationally, so it enables us to play it every day; plus, it is current."

Does 'hybrid' work?

Vivek Srivastava

The channel claims that 18 out of the top 25 shows in the English GEC category are from Romedy Now (Source: BARC, All India 1Mn+, NCCS AB 15-50, Wk 21-35). "We do not classify programming by nature of content, so we can have both series and movies. We follow the classic general entertainment content strategy - if there's a property or a programme which fits the mood of the channel, which is 'happy', we will put it up, and this strategy has worked for us. We will continue with the hybrid philosophy," Srivastava says. He adds that adding series has helped the channel cement viewership share in the genre.

How do advertisers see Romedy Now - as a GEC or movie channel? "We know the DNA of our channel...anything that falls under romance or comedy. For advertisers, it's simple; they go with eyeballs, and we have a sizeable share of the market," he asserts.

The channel is exploring local content, with an eye on monetisation. Srivastava explains, "If I produce programmes locally, there are more opportunities for exposure for my client than what I can get from a finished product from syndicated content. If your budget and advertiser interaction is big enough, spending 100 or 1000 rupees does not matter, if there is a valid business case. For example, if you do a local reality series, you can do active and passive placements for your brands inside your show."

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