A 24-HOUR channel that airs hit serials from a neighbouring country whom we love to blame for every misfortune, another channel that has made chick flicks of the episodic type its staple fare, a third that celebrates our armchair detective status and a fourth that pays obeisance to Bollywood blockbusters and the clock - these were among Mevision's new offerings in 2014, all in the name of entertainment. So if you thought the general entertainment genre was already a crowded space with 417 channels, including movies, music, youth, channels, think again.
The year 2014 saw the general entertainment genre get even more thinly sliced, with new niche channels catering to almost every imaginable audience group. From Zee Entertainment Enterprises introducing Zindagi, an entertainment channel that showcases syndicated content from Pakistan, to Discovery Network launching its first Hindi entertainment channel ID (Investigation Discovery), to Multi Screen Media launching new movie channel Sony Max 2 broadcasting new and old iconic movies as well as a Hindi general entertainment channel Sony Pal specifically targeting women, apart from the launch of Epic, focussing on Indian history, mythology and folklore, this was a year that saw the biggies of broadcast ready with a new bag of tricks to woo the audience.
"The launch of so many channels with niche content proves broadcasters are ready to experiment with content, riding on the back of digitisation, as it has become easier now to take your channel to audiences in India," says Sanjay Gupta, COO, Star India.
While as many as 35-40 news channels came up this year thanks to the Lok Sabha elections, it is the entertainment genre that continues to be the bedrock of the television industry. According to the Ficci-KPMG Indian media and entertainment industry report 2014, Hindi and regional GECs continue to be the key drivers of television viewership, accounting for 48°O of total viewership in 2013.
Viewers should expect further segmenta-tion in the entertainment space.-"We have seen how broadcasters have segmented enter-tainment channels by launching various kinds of Hindi general entertainment channels. The next couple of years will be about individual content," says Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO, Viacom18 Media.
Agrees Priyanka Dutta, business head, Zindagi. "With the audience now looking for new kind content, it is imperative to deliver the content which they want to see." Perhaps the main reason behind broadcasters' faith in the entertainment genre is that it still remains the cash cow of the industry. A 10-second spot on a non-fiction show on a GEC gets Rs. 2-4 lakh against Rs.15,000- 20,000 fora similar spot on a English news channel. At the same time, with the viewership share shrinking with the entry of more players, getting ads will become equally challenging. Only time will tell which channel will succeed and which one will not.