Currently, the Indian TV adspace is dominated by established networks like Star and Zee. These channels are able to demand better ad-rates and have a wider reach due to large audience volumes. Smaller companies like Viacom18 need much more muscle strength to do as well as their larger competitors in the fiercely competitive market.
The channels in India can be broadly classified as:
General Entertainment Channels– These have been the forte of Indian media giants like Star and Zee. Aimed at the family, these channels show a mix of programmes tailored to suit all audience tastes. With cartoons in the late afternoons, news in the evening and soaps/music programs/general entertainment programs during the night these channels aim at different audience segments at various times during the day.
Niche Entertainment Channels – Set-top boxes along with a subscription model for channels has brought in a new category for television media – niche channels. Such channels cater to a specific segment of the audience based on age, hobbies or interests. Within the last 2 years channels like Discovery Travel and Living, NDTV Good Times and Pogo have gained immense popularity. This has also become possible since the younger Indian audience (15-35 years) enjoys watching lifestyle, science, cookery, sports or kids channels rather than the basic family-drama/ news/music mix of general entertainment channels. Increasing affluence and education have increased viewership of English channels which might soon lose their niche classification. Advertisers too prefer niche channels since they have an assurance that they will reach their target audience.
Regional Channels – These channels are essentially aimed at audience who prefer entertainment in vernacular languages. A majority of these channels fall into the general entertainment category. However, the size of the target audience is generally smaller and the channels cater to not more than a couple of states. A frontrunner in this category, Sun TV, owns a large portfolio of South Indian regional channels.
Viacom 18 has tried its hand across media segments. Its efforts at acquiring and distributing Hindi films has not proven to be very profitable. Traditionally, very few Indian companies have ventured into film distribution and television media simultaneously. Even today, this novel role of a tele-media company distributing films is not popular in Bollywood. Viacom 18 had entered India with a niche channel – MTV and went on to enter the general entertainment industry with Colors. Encouraged by the success of Colors, Viacom 18 is planning to expand further in India. It is looking at launching an international channel which would do reruns of Indian programs. Aimed at NRIs, revenues from such channels would add to profits owing to the existing availability and tested audience response of such programs. Whatever be the model that Viacom 18 chooses, the new-age Indian audience loves variety and is ready for more quality channels.