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Dr. Arindam Chaudhuri, Editor-in-Chief, 4Ps B&M Chief Consulting Editor's Desk
Rajita Chaudhuri
Dr. Arindam Chaudhuri, Editor-in-Chief, 4Ps B&M Editor-in-Chief
Dr. Arindam Chaudhuri
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INTERVIEW : DEBARPITA BANERJEE
“The Genre of Travel-Based Programming is Still Under-Served”
Fox History & Entertainment, which was Recently Renamed Fox History & Traveller, has Tweaked its format to Focus more on Travel-Based Content.
Issue Date - 16/06/2011
 
Travel is not about just celebrating the destinations. It is about celebrating the fun around these destinations, showcasing rich and varied experiences through interesting personalities,” says Debarpita Banerjee, Vice President – Marketing, FOX International Channels India, in the course of an interview in which she talks about the channel’s decision to change its name and content to suit its new travel-focused positioning and the way ahead for the newly-named channel.

What prompted you to introduce travel as a genre and even change the name of the channel?
Travel as an industry is booming. Everybody wants to do something interesting and explore the country and the world. In the context of this expanding interest, the genre of travel-based programming is still under-served in India. There is so much more to do now. Also, our travel shows in the past have always done well. Which is why, looking at our past performances and at the opportunity that the genre presents, last year, we started working on travel-based content, after significant internal research. We introduced traveller band on the channel from January this year, which has shown a significant increase in the ratings for that time band. This has been encouraging, and hence we decided to take it to the next level.

Isn’t travel a crowded genre to be in? Even GECs have slots for travel shows?
There are channels that showcase travel-based content but are largely focused on lifestyle. We will focus on travel aggressively with an aim to becoming the clear leader in the genre. We will offer a healthy mix of the best in class international content and urbane, refreshing locally produced content. And for us travel will not be about just celebrating the destinations. It will celebrate the fun around these destinations, showcasing rich and varied experiences through interesting personalities.

How do you see the competition in this genre now that you have revamped the channel’s content?
Revamping the channel has allowed us to introduce interesting concepts that will arrest young India’s mind when it comes to showcasing the fun element around travel. So, we have extended our definition of competition. It can no longer be travel-based content as shown on other channels, but anything that the 15-35 age group is keen on watching.

What kind of shows will act as the driver for your channel?
We are focusing on local productions in a big way. The first locally produced show this year is a unique format that explores the psyche of Indian men across the country through the eyes of two sassy, urban women — Sugandha Garg and Indrani Dasgupta. It’s called, What’s with Indian Men. It promises to be high on entertainment, wit and exploration of both the geography and the gender. The show is going on air on June 4, Saturday nights at 10 pm. Another interesting mega production coming up is Twist of Taste with Vineet Bhatia — the renowned Indian Michelin star chef and the owner of many restaurants across London, Mauritius, UAE and South Africa. Some of the key international shows on the channel include Dhani Tackles the Globe where the famous American footballer, Dhani Jones explores different countries through their local sports; David Rocco’s Dolce Vita, that explores each bit of Italy through different kinds of food; Kung Fu Kitchen, Long Way Down, Endurance Traveller, Earth Tripping and Danger Beach, amongst others.

 
How difficult is it to make a channel profitable in this genre considering that it’s an overcrowded place? What really is the key to success?
Any booming category has a plethora of options. FMCGs, consumer durables, automobiles, cell phones are all already crowded business domains but still see new launches every year. But key players are still managing to stay profitable, right? One has to stay relevant, differentiated, and top of mind. For us, the key to success would be to getting the distribution right. Between NGC and FOX History & Traveller, we have a healthy OTS touching 85% penetration in the analogue market, and 100% in the fast-growing DTH market. Second is to speak the language of the people — National Geographic is now available in five languages — English, Hindi, Telugu, Bangla, and the freshly launched Tamil. When the time is right, FOX History & Traveller will be available in more languages. Then, there’s the challenge to win the TG’s mind with fresh, new and better formats of programming.

How do you see the future of niche channels?
With the advent of digitisation, there is immense scope for niche channels. Viewers now have choice and they are seeking specialised and focused content. They want more than news, sports and GECs; and advertisers understand that.

What’s going to be your communications strategy now?
We had already embarked on the journey last year and the change in the programming mix was clearly visible from January with the new traveller band. Our viewers and advertising partners noticed the shift before we changed the branding on-air and the response was fabulous. Our channel is our biggest medium to showcase the change. So apart from the logo, there will be changes in the look, feel and packaging and a whole lot of fresh and edgier content. We will also roll out some exciting consumer engagement campaigns. The digital medium will play a key role in engaging with our TG.

Can you outline a few key changes to expect from the channel.
Expect a lot more exciting content in the months to come — that showcases travel in a whole new, youthful and exciting way. We have increased our focus on local programming and you’ll see many refreshing concepts on-air. After What’s With Indian Men and Twist of Taste with Vineet Bhatia, we have a series of big properties lined up. Also expect a lot of viewer engagement with each local content. We will start interacting with our viewers on a continuous basis. Expect a lot of surround sound for the brand FOX History and Traveller— we are planning to use all key mediums to connect with our TG, and sustain this all year round.

FOX History & Entertainment had a certain brand equity which was unique. What will be the positioning of FOX History & Traveller?
FOX History & Entertainment was a key player in the English entertainment space and presented history in a new and entertaining manner for nearly a decade. Over the years, the channel maintained its loyal following for its historical content, even as other genres of programming, specifically travel, were garnering more viewership and viewer engagement. We will keep our differentiated positioning, but we will just get a little younger, and start having some more fun.

What should one expect from the bouquet of FOX International Channels in India this year?
Apart from edgier differentiated content, we are staying ahead of the technology curve. We already have NGC, NG adventure and NG Wild in HD channels. Even FOX History & Traveller will have all local content shot on HD.
Tuhina Anand           
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