News Column

"The idea is to expand the English entertainment category in a different dimension" [Financial Express (India)]

October 1, 2013


The English entertainment category on television continues to be highly under-valued and under-monetised when it comes to generating advertising and subscription revenues. At the same time, the category has witnessed an astounding TVT (television viewership in thousands) growth post cable digitisation. It is in this backdrop that Bennett, Coleman and Co. Ltd. (BCCL) has decided to broaden its broadcast horizons with its latest venture in the English entertainment category-Romedy Now. In a conversation with FE BrandWagon's Anindita Sarkar, Sunil Lulla, managing director and chief executive officer, Times Television Network, talks about the concept for the channel and his plans for the new product. Edited excerpts:

Could you describe the concept behind Romedy Now?

Extensive research has revealed that the audience is seeking highly differentiated and personalised content; and the identification of this ground-breaking shift of genres and the significant gap between behaviour versus need have led to the conception of Romedy Now. When we looked at what consumers wanted, we realised that there is a global preference for lighter forms of entertainment. What we found is that people really look out for an occasion to laugh, to celebrate their love and to make that emotion a part of their lives. However, we did not find a single combination of all these on one singular platform anywhere in the broadcast world-a platform that harnesses these attributes and facets of life in actuality. Romedy is not just about comedy and romance; neither

is it about romcoms as people call it.

It is rather about capturing the essence of a human character when it comes to love and life.

The idea is to use the channel (like we used Movies Now) to build and expand the English entertainment category in a different dimension. There is a big audience out there-about 150 million people-who like to watch entertainment in English and we believe that it is a big enough audience to stimulate growth.

Could you elaborate on the market research that was conducted before launching Romedy Now?

The research done was to understand what younger audiences enjoy watching in terms of the nature of entertainment. Now, we looked at what emotions are important to them. So, one was the emotions of action, pace, adrenal, shock and horror that appeal to them very strongly and the second was the entire emotion of light-hearted entertainment through comedy,

romance and the combination of the two. We conducted this research across multiple cities over a 25,000

consumer base.

What motivated you to foray into the English entertainment space?

The Times Television Network's focus has been largely on urban, affluent audiences. Whether that has been through Times Now, ET Now, Zoom or Movies Now, we cater to a certain demographic and keep growing our offerings towards that demographic. In this case, we have taken a decision to provide entertainment to the same audience through Romedy Now because this is the kind of audience that every advertiser wants. They are the ones who are buying new gadgets, investing in real estate, are travelling and have high disposable income. We believe that this group's needs are not catered to when advertisers are chasing larger entertainment formats. However, if you look at how the cable system is growing with capacity being built through digitisation, we believe that the English entertainment business, which is largely under-monetised, will deliver better traction.

Frankly, even multi system operators (MSOs) were born to cater to these niche audiences and improve their base of customers and have traction for their customers. While the current focus is the early eight metros, the idea is to grow and expand to the 1 million-plus cities or the boom towns and really grow the footprint of English entertainment in these markets.

The 10+2 cap notification is pushing a lot of networks to launch channels and combat inventory shortage. Is Romedy Now a part of a similar game plan?

We believe in very distinctive offerings. Now, with Romedy Now, we have five very, very distinctive offerings. The network comes together because we work for the same company and therefore it really makes sense for us to trade audiences within ourselves and it makes sense for us to serve these businesses. If you go beyond the network and if you go to BCCL, then you know that it is a multimedia group and it will do things in many different ways which will often compliment and sometimes compete.

Will it not be a challenge to monetise Romedy Now in the midst of the current economic slowdown?

I think short economic panic attacks are going to happen. But you do not stop your business because

of short economic panic attacks. There is a 150-million consumer base which enjoys English entertainment. They are under-served because there are not enough choices. We need to put together different offerings for them and get a fair share of what we need to earn as subscription.

Copyright 2013 The Indian Express Online Media Pvt. Ltd., distributed by


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