Anirban Roy Choudhury
Interviews

Can Anand Mahindra's IN10 succeed in the crowded GEC space?

The MD of IN10 Media talks about the new launch, the distribution plans and the road ahead.

It is fair to say that the last time a large media network launched a Hindi pay general entertainment channel (GEC) in India, it bombed. Discovery Jeet was rolled out by infotainment giant Discovery Network in 2018. The goal was to attain scale. The channel shut down last year (2020).

Owned by Mahindra Group chairman Anand Mahindra and the Pittie Group, IN10 Media Network has jumped into the crowded sea of experienced and established giants. The network has launched a GEC, called Ishara, which will now compete with the likes of Star Plus, Zee TV, Colors Sony TV, &TV, Star Bharat, etc. The goal is to have a market share in the biggest genre. 

IN10 Media was earlier co-owned by Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries (RIL) and media veteran Mahesh Samat. It used to run a channel, called Epic, which aired mythological shows. Epic was positioned as the mythology channel of India. In 2016, Anand Mahindra, through his family business, bought Ambani's stake as well as that of Samat, who is now with the Walt Disney Company. Pittie Group's Aditya Pittie is now at the helm of IN10 Media as managing director. 

The network now operates Epic, which has now been positioned as an infotainment channel; music channel Showbox; and Bhojpuri movie channel Filamchi. The network recently entered kids genre, with Gubbare, as well as the GEC category (Ishara). IN10 Media also has a digital presence in the form of Epicon and Docubay. 

According to sources in the organisation, Aditya Pittie has set a target for the team, which is to compete with Star Bharat, &TV, and be at the number six slot, at least. He, however, has not revealed the strategy. 

In an interview with afaqs!, he talks about the new launch, the distribution plans and the road ahead.

Edited Excerpts:

Why did you decide to launch a GEC at this stage? What does it mean for the network?

As part of our broader objective of building a broadcast business, we wanted to be in genres that have a large share, and GEC has the largest (market) share. We thought that it was an obvious step for us to take, in terms of realising our overall objective.

Also, since we were already present in infotainment, music and (now) kids, we thought that having a GEC will be a sound strategy, going forward.

"While GEC is already a big genre, and it has a lot of competition, it is also the largest and the fastest-growing one"
Aditya Pittie

The GEC space is already crowded and has established players. Will you attempt to carve a niche, or are you entering the space to compete with the others?

Yes, there are a lot of players in the GEC genre, but the overall viewership in the country is also growing. The number of people who watch TV is growing by 10 per cent per year at a bare minimum. A large part of that growth is coming in the GEC genre.

So while it is already a big genre, and it has a lot of competition, it is also the largest and the fastest-growing one. Therefore, we think that there is still an opportunity to get some market share. We have a strategy and are building our own USP. We can offer something that is different from the other players

Are you going after any particular target group (TG)?

We are clearly a channel that is urban skewed (focused). Our content is progressive and slightly skewed towards females… Our TG is the broader demographic. There are some GECs that have males as their core TG, but we have a TG that is also the TG of other GECs.

Aditya Pittie
Aditya Pittie

What will be your distribution strategy?

We are very clear that we will be a pay network. Currently, all our channels are available at a bouquet price of Rs 2. We call it the Epic Value Pack. Going forward, we will increase our bouquet price to Rs 7. We will definitely look at generating significant subscription revenue as we are able to provide quality content of this scale.

We expect the consumers to pay the subscription for all our channels. If you look at the value proposition that we provide and the fact that we have a presence in so many genres, Rs 7 for our bouquet, I think, is competitively priced, as compared to that of other networks.

"With so many channels moving to Freedish, we feel that it is a viable strategy to be urban-focused, charge a premium from the advertisers and have a subscription fee"
Aditya Pittie

Is it urban skewed because it will help you generate higher average revenue per user (ARPU)?

When I say urban, I don't mean only urban. It is going to be urban skewed. It doesn't mean that the rural consumers will not consume our content. When you're designing and/or positioning your brand and product, you need to at least have some sort of TG in mind.

Also, with so many channels moving to Freedish, we feel that it is a viable strategy to be urban-focused, charge a premium from the advertisers and have a subscription fee.

Now that you have launched a GEC, are there any plans to enter the regional markets next?

Now that we are also present in the GEC genre, we are definitely going to look at the regional markets, going forward. Having said that, it is too early for me to talk about the details as we have not taken a decision about anything yet.

What I can say is that we believe regional markets have a lot of potential. In a sense, we are already present in the regional space with our (Bhojpuri) movie channel Filamchi. We are very happy with Filamchi's traction.

What is the group focusing on now?

Our focus in the next six months is to stabilise our broadcast business. The attention will be on monetising newly launched GEC Ishara effectively. As far as Gubbare goes, we have some exciting stuff coming up during the summer vacations. We also have an exciting lineup of content on Epic. The Movies channel is stabilising too.