With more entrants coming into the infotainment genre, National Geographic Channel (NGC) is upping its local programming initiatives.
It will kick off a six-episode adventure reality show X-treme Trail from 5 November every Saturday at 8 pm. This is being done in association with Nissan whose SUV features in the show.
In a first for NGC, the show will simulcast on Fox History and Traveller, Star World and Channel [V] in a bid to increase reach of the show.
National Geographic Network India senior VP content Ramon Chibb said that the amount of local content on the channel has gone up by 15 per cent. "Our programming costs are up by 40 per cent. The local content push is being done in conjunction with the three local language feeds launched this year - Tamil, Telugu and Bengali. We are already seeing a healthy viewership increase in these markets. As of now there are no plans for more language feeds. Our 'Mission' property will now be done annually.
"The next property is Mission Arctic in March 2012 which will see an expedition visit the Arctic region. We did two local shows this year Mission Army and now X-treme Trail. Next year we might do three shows. People want local faces in a high end environment. Local shows boost reach and time spent. Also from an advertising perspective it allows for better brand integration."
X-treme Trail will showcase the art and science of off-roading through the journey of the eight contestants on the show. From the selection and training, to battling the rough topography of the dunes of Rajasthan, the dense jungles of Rajaji National Park to the trans-Himalayan ranges in Himachal and Ladhak, the chosen contenders will show their mettle on the road in the SUV from Nissan - The X-trail. The final winners will get a chance to pay homage to the Indian Army warrior as their final drive takes them to the highest battle field on earth, Siachen Glacier.
On the occasion of the series launch, Nissan unveiled the new X-treme Trail limited edition of Nissan X-Trail which commemorates the drivable feat achieved in India by Nissan SUVs. Priced at Rs 2.28 million LE-Grade (ex-showroom, Mumbai), the SUV has added 10 new features such as touch screen navigation system, rear spoiler, X-treme trail decal, door visor set etc. all adding to the comfort and ease of off-roading on Indian terrains.
Chibb noted that the aim was to explore different terrains with amateurs. 200 people were screened out of which 20 were chosen. Those 20 were put through a series of tests and team building exercises. Then eight were picked for the journey. It was a 32 day shoot in addition to a month and a half of planning. This made it different from the previous show 'Flight of The Hawks' which had trained off roaders.
"Nat Geo has always worked with like-minded brands on creating some of the best integrated properties in the past. Adventure and exploration is in the DNA of NGC and through our association with Nissan for X-treme Trail, we will bring out the powerful imagery of the extreme Indian terrains through an adrenaline pumping drama. The expedition was one of its own kinds of experience which comprise the journey of more than 4,000 kms, with a crew base of more than 40 people."
He says that one learning of doing local content is that NGC cannot make mundane reality shows. "Our viewers expect to gain information in an entertaining manner. It is not a regular reality show where contestants bicker, complain. While we were screening people we had several criteria. The person needs to be a good driver. He/she must be able to read different terrains keeping in mind safety. Also this is an expedition and so the participant must be able to work in a team. The participant must also have a never say die attitude. We got permission from different authorities including the Indian Army who we worked with in the past. The way the show was been designed it was a natural fit for an SUV."
Hover Automotive India is Nissan's sales and marketing partner in India. The company's CEO Dinesh Jain said, "While we were having discussions with National Geographic Channel we were clear that we did not want to be associated with a run off the mill show. We wanted a show that would showcase our product's capabilities. While the show was National Geographic Channel's idea the extreme part of it was co-created. We made sure that our vehicles were available. We also gave management time and also bore some part of the production cost."
The series is being promoted through a 360 degree marketing campaign including outdoor, print and radio. Nissan and National Geographic Channel are also holding a contest wherein participants can log on to www.natgeotv.co.in/xtremetrail and submit their 'X-treme adventure' stories. The four best entries will win an adventure trip to Rishikesh.