With only 20 per cent of its content based on wildlife, National Geographic Channel can no longer be called just a wildlife channel. NGC is catering to a diverse set of audiences with shows such as ‘Close Quarter Battles’, ‘Insider’, ‘Taboo’, etc.
Talking exclusively to exchange4media, Keertan Adhyanthya, MD, NGC and FOX International Channels talks about digitisation, NGC’s future content strategy and other industry issues…
In the era of globalisation and digitisation, what do you expect from the TV audience? Will National Geographic go to them or wait for the audience to mature to enjoy its content? I believe in expanding our audience base by going to them. We are not the only channel out there; there are 500 more channels. So we have to go towards the audience. But for a channel, which has been there for 10 years, probably 100 per cent of the audience has watched us in the past. Many have stayed because they loved the content; some abandoned us because they didn’t like what we offered. But the effort has to go on. Channels and people evolve with time, so the effort to attract eyeballs should always be there.
With digitisation in place, are you planning on changing your brand perception of a wildlife channel? We produce content around the world, not only in India. The best part about our shows is that they are evergreen. Even after five years you can watch a show with the same interest. In niche genres, many shows are like that. This is one very big advantage we have. Ever evolving nature of our content attracts people.
We are not just a wildlife channel. We would like to change this perception with our new shows. Today, only 20 per cent of our content is based on wildlife. The rest comprises shows such as ‘Insider’, where we take our viewers inside places they can never go – White House, Mecca, etc. We are also coming up with a show ‘Inside IPL’, which will show about how the tournament of this size has been put together, who were the people behind the event, etc.
Don’t you think the Indian audience would be more interested in ‘Inside Rashtrapati Bhavan’ than the White House? The audience that we have is also interested in what happens around the world, not only in India. We have shows that cater to Indian context as well; but this is globalisation in effect and people want to know about global happenings. They want to know about outer space, geology in other parts of the world, geography, civil life, etc. We have a show called ‘Close Quarter Battles’, which takes you inside the elite fighting units around the world and what kind of technology they use, fighting strategy, etc. Then we have shows like ‘Taboo’, which throws light on cross cultures and underground cultures. Shows with extremely wide variety are our preference, and that is our content strategy.
Talking about the business, what are you more dependent on for revenues: Advertising or subscription? We are more dependent on advertising.
So what is your take on 10+2 ad cap? It is a guideline from the regulator and I think it needs to be followed. So we will comply with it. It is not any self governed norm by us.
In that case, are you planning on increasing your inventory cost as well, considering the weak economic environment? Yes.
When do you think digitisation will start yielding results as expected from it? I think over the next year it will have some effect. Right now most of our spend has more or less been reallocated into LC1 markets. Whatever little savings we had from the metros has been invested in LC1 market. Also, a lot of the savings have not come through, because our partners in the distribution trade had to make an investment in set top boxes. We are inclined to help them as it is in everybody’s interest. But over the next year, we see a reduction of 15-odd per cent in carriage fees. Post that, we will recalibrate your numbers to see which rate is going up and whether we are able to save more.
How has your viewership been from LC1 markets? Currently, we are not measuring them separately, but overall the category itself is falling in these markets, which is strange. So we have raised few questions with TAM and are expecting an answer soon.