With the digitisation of cable television services, the English entertainment genre has emerged as the most happening of all genres, with broadcasters wooing audiences with new niche channels, especially on HD. Taking a cue, Star India has launched a new English general entertainment channel (GEC), Star World Premiere HD. The new channel which has been positioned as 'Watch the best of America, with America', targets the creme de la creme audience in the 20-35 years age group, who want to watch English fiction/non-fiction shows concurrently with US audiences.
"The channel is targetted at the top 1% of consumers whom we also call global Indians. These are the viewers who are well-travelled, well-read, and are up-to-date with the latest in everything, right from technology to fashion, etc. These viewers, in order to watch
the current season/episode of their favourite shows, either go online or buy DVDs whenever they go abroad. Therefore, we thought of launching a channel that would specifically cater to their needs," said Kevin Vaz, general manager-English channels, Star India.
Star World Premiere HD will telecast four hours of original programmes everyday. It has inked deals with four studios-Fox Studios, Sony Pictures, Warner Brothers and Disney for 26 shows including Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, The Michael J. Fox Show, The Blacklist, The Goldbergs and Sleepy Hollow apart from new seasons of Homeland, Castle, Revenge, White Collar, Modern Family, The Simpsons, Glee and Two & A Half Men, etc.
A paid channel, Star World Premiere HD is currently available on Tata Sky's HD platform. According to the Easing India's Capacity Crunch 2013 report by management consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), currently India has about 40 HD channels and the number of HD channels are expected to go up to 130 by 2017. The high growth in the number of HD channels is expected to be fuelled by growth in digital platforms such as direct-to-home (DTH) and digital cable. The rising sales of high-end TV sets that support HD viewing experiences are also likely to contribute to the growth, states the report. Some of the HD channels that are available on air includes Star Plus, Star World, Zee TV, Colors, Discovery HD World, Fox Traveller HD, Movie Now HD, etc. "At Tata Sky, a disproportionate amount of money is spent on spreading awareness about the superior quality of viewing experience that comes with HD. As today consumers mostly buy LED/LCD television sets, it is important to make them understand that the viewing experience can be much better, if they opt for a HD connection," said Vikram Mehra, chief marketing officer, Tata Sky.
Interestingly, Star India is selling the channel has an a la carte channel available for R60 per month and has refrained from bundling it with any other HD channels that the group runs. With this move, Star India is targetting about 1.5 million households which have HD set-top boxes. Additionally, the channel has limited advertising. "While the main idea is to grow the subscription revenue from day one, the channel will carry very less advertising as an additional source of revenue. For example, the channel has two minutes of advertising in half an hour," added Vaz.
Industry observers feel that Star India's new gamble will pay off in the long run, as Indian audiences are gradually opening up to the idea of shelling out extra money for premium content. "Star India will definitely benefit from this move in the future. As the process of digitisation continues, it will take another two-three years for the audience to completely recognise the benefits of the service. However, a broadcaster cannot wait for two-three years to launch such channels, preparation has to start now and that is exactly what broadcasters such as Star India is doing by launching such channels," said Ajit Varghese, CEO, Maxus, Asia-Pacific.
According to Smita Jha, leader, entertainment and media practice, India, PwC, HD plays a key role as a differentiation factor not just for broadcasters but also for distribution companies. "Consumers are gradually realising the big difference in quality in case of viewing experience between standard definition (SD) and HD. Hence they are ready to pay extra amount for such services now," added Jha.
Copyright 2013 The Indian Express Online Media Pvt. Ltd., distributed by Contify.com
Credit: Anushree Bhattacharyya
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