The launch date of Sony Pictures Networks India's (SPNI) first infotainment channel is finally here - March 6, 2017 (standard and high definition versions).
Apart from English, the channel will have optional Hindi, Tamil and Telugu audio feed.
Sony BBC Earth was born out of a discussion that BBC Worldwide and SPNI had two years back; the JV between the two was announced in September 2015. In February this year, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) gave a nod to the JV to launch its channels in India.
Both players refused to disclose the financials involved in the JV, but Paul Dempsey, president global markets, BBC Worldwide, said, at a press conference yesterday, "We had the content with us... we are present in numerous markets across the globe... we were looking for a partner in India. Sony on the other hand has market understanding... they are a giant in selling and distribution... so we are clear they are the ones who will operate the channel in this market."
While globally, channels classified as factual entertainment (infotainment) channels generate a major part of their revenue through subscription, NP Singh, chief executive officer, SPNI, opines that in India, BBC Earth will be driven by advertising.
"While the content and the channel are premium, we will have to put advertising as that is the revenue model followed in India. In the future, when digitisation is done, subscription revenue will play a major role. But now, it is advertising that will drive the revenue," he says, adding optimistically, "One year down the line we would like to be one of the top three channels in the genre."
"'Feel Alive' is the tagline - and ethos - of the channel..." says, Saurabh Yagnik, EVP and business head, English Cluster, SPNI, "... the brand positioning captures the emotion of subliminal happiness which viewers experience when they consume our content."
Creative agency Leo Burnett has worked on the promo films for Sony BBC Earth. "We will run a 360 degree marketing campaign for the next six to ten weeks to promote the launch of the channel. We still do not have an advertiser on board but we are in conversation with many," says Yagnik.
Bollywood actor Kareena Kapoor Khan is the brand ambassador of the channel. "It is a one-year-long deal," informs Yagnik.
The size of the infotainment genre in terms of revenue is close to Rs. 1,500 crore. In terms of viewership, the share of the genre is 1.2 per cent of all television viewership.
History TV 18, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo Wild are the top five channels in the genre as per BARC India's Week 8 ratings.
A look at the programming of Sony BBC Earth: 'Why, How & What on Earth' at 8:00 pm for fun and insightful science, 'Wild Wild Earth' at 9:00 pm for nature and wildlife, and 'Earth Explorers' at 10:00 pm for adventure and human interest stories. On weekends, 'Earth Specials' will be aired at prime time. Key launches include The Hunt, Where The Wild Men Are with Ben Fogle, Trust Me I'm A Doctor, Snow Chick and Planet Earth II.
"We will have around 19 hours of original content per week," concludes Yagnik.