History TV18: Changing the rules
Aryan29 | March 28, 2012, 10:17 AM | one comment | 0 views

By Anindita Sarkar, afaqs!, Mumbai, March 27, 2012
Section: News Category: Media Publishing

In the short span of its existence, History TV18 has not only eaten into the pie of the top player, Discovery, but also given a tough fight to NGC for the second spot. afaqs! explores the reasons behind the success story.

There are more than half a dozen infotainment or special interest channels in India but the three channels that have made a mark over the years are Discovery, National Geographic and Animal Planet. Together, they claim more than 95 per cent of the genre’s viewership, of which Discovery claims the lion’s share, followed by NGC and Animal Planet.

However, the equation seems to have changed in the last few months, after the entry of History TV18 in October, 2011. The new entrant has created a serious dent in the existing players’ market.

By the third week of its launch (Week 41, 2011), the channel share for History TV18 went up from zero to 7.5 per cent. By the fourth week, the channel claimed a share of 24 per cent – the difference between the No. 2 player NGC and History TV18 was only 0.8 per cent (as per TAM C&S 15+).

However, it was not NGC that was majorly affected but the No. 1 channel Discovery, the channel share of which went down from 58 per cent to 39 per cent.

During Weeks 6 and 7 of 2012, History TV18 surpassed National Geographic to claim the No. 2 position in the genre, with a share of more than 24 per cent. Although the gap between the two players did fluctuate during Weeks 8, 9 and 10, in Week 11, the fight was neck-to-neck once again.

To validate the above: History TV18’s relative shares for Weeks 8, 9 and 10 stood at 23.3 per cent, 24.3 per cent and 21.9 per cent, respectively.

Whereas for NGC, the relative shares for Week 8 and 9 were 25.4 per cent each, and for Week 10 it stood at 25.7 per cent.

In Week 11, NGC’s share stood at 23.5 per cent, while for History TV18, the score was 23.4 per cent.

Discovery, albeit holding on to its No. 1 position in the genre, witnessed a fair fall to 36 per cent in Week 7, before clawing back to 40.3 per cent in Week 11.

So what has contributed to the success that History TV18 has achieved in such a short span?

Viewer’s view point

Among the several things that the channel tried, the Khan-effect seems to have worked wonders.

Many found it quite unusual when Bollywood star Salman Khan was roped in as the brand ambassador for an infotainment channel like History TV18. His on-screen persona escaped the brand-fit of the channel.

However, it is pertinent to note here that Khan did offer the channel the initial sampling, which it desperately needed. His job was to get the viewer’s attention and break the clutter, and quite evidently the intention was fulfilled.

Vinita Bangard, managing director, Krossover Entertainment, a celebrity management firm, notes that Khan has not only added visibility to the channel but has also pushed up the overall popularity of the genre. “Since he is delivering content to the consumer as a consumer, the content easily gets more palatable,” she says.

Apart from the star brand endorser, the channel also managed to attract eyeballs with differentiated and fresh content.

History TV18 took a relook at the very definition of the word ‘History’, in an attempt to move away from the traditional concept of history being about dates. It launched with universal themes that use the premise of history but, at the same time, entertain, engage and thrill. And therefore, shows such as Ice Road Truckers, Swamp People, Top Shot, Sliced and IRT Deadliest Roads-Himalayas were launched to represent the core genres during the initial phase.

Vidhu Sagar, senior vice-president, Carat Media India, says, “Typically, the infotainment genre suffers from the ‘wildlife’ syndrome. At a time when viewer’s fatigue was maximum, History offered freshness with a differentiated content.”

According to Sagar, until the advent of History TV18, the only channel to have showcased diversified content in the market was the leader of the flock, Discovery.

Kunal Jamuar, executive director, MPG says that apart from focused content which helped the channel witness a successful launch, airing that content in HD format also added to the channel’s viewership quotient.

“Also, regionalisation of the content in six languages during the launch phase helped further increase the channel’s visibility amongst audiences pan-India,” he adds.

Advertiser’s patronage

What is important for the channel is that it has not only managed to find a place in the consideration set of the advertisers but has also managed to increase the 10-second rate for itself.

As Sagar of Carat media says, “As the channel started gaining numbers, most of the advertisers who included only Discovery in their annual plan, also began to include History.”

According to industry estimates, the channel currently claims a prime time ad rate of Rs 3,000-4,000 per 10 seconds, while for Discovery, the airtime rates range between Rs 4,500 and Rs 6,000. For NGC, the airtime rates are anywhere between Rs 2,000 and Rs 3,000.

The channel has also seen an increase in ad volumes. “If in December 2011, the channel’s total ad volume was 31,000 seconds, by February, the figure went up to 1,73,000 seconds. For Discovery, the airtime volume per month ranges between 3,50,000 to 3,80,000 seconds,” says Vikas Khanchandani, director, Aidem Ventures.

Way ahead

Content sustainability for History TV18 could become a challenge, note many. According to Avinash Pillai, national buying director, Mediacom, the channel is in a Catch 22 situation.

“To sustain, the channel will have to demand higher rates, and if it demands higher rates, it will be evaluated on content and reach. Creating fresh content will increase the input cost,” he says.

“Also, audiences today are fragmented. Consequently, unless the excitement levels of the channel are high, it would be a challenge to sustain the audiences,” says a senior media observer.

Even Sagar of Carat fears that soon, History TV18 may get into the same loop as other special interest channels and increase the frequency of content repeats. “If there is no new content introduced in the near future, the numbers may drop,” he says.

However, Divya Radhakrishnan, managing director, Helios Media has a different point to make. According to her, generally for a niche genre, the rating trends are not much pulsed.

“Once a critical number is achieved, it tends to hold on to it for a longer period, unlike a GEC (general entertainment channel) which needs periodic boosting to even sustain numbers. Hence, other than regular tent poles, there isn’t much that is needed from the channel. In any case, it is not possible to get into too many initiatives from the revenue base that niche channels generally write,” she avers

About the author:
Has 359 Articles

Actor, Filmmaker, Writer, Musician, Cricketer, Cardinal Bengan, Author, Yogguru, Fitness Trainer, Hacker, Biker , Accidental DJ And In No Particular Order I'm always That Guy from That Ad,That match ,That TV Show,That Film,& now That Guy in NG. P.S Definitely Not An Astronaut.

  1. aryan29

    Among the several things that the channel tried, the salman Khan-effect seems to have worked wonders.

    Hmm another Salman Khan brand effect

    Unless it went straight to the junk box, it is unlikely that you would have missed Salman Khan’s email Holi wishes this year. No, it wasn’t an attempt to hardsell his latest movie, rather it was part of a message meant to promote Revital – the health supplement brand that Bollywood’s leading actor started endorsing recently.

    New ambassador will take forward the brand promise ‘jiyo jee bhar ke’ (Live life to the fullest), which Indians have been hearing for the last three years from cricketer Yuvraj Singh. In fact, Singh was the first brand ambassador for Revital.

    Click here for Cloud Computing

    Also Read

    Related Stories
    News Now
    – Ranbaxy Laboratories opens Morocco unit
    – Analjit charts succession plan
    – Kishore Singh: Hair goes
    – Bollywood zooms in on Bharat
    – Ranbaxy launches cholesterol drug in Europe
    – Price erosion may hit Lipitor sales of Indian firms
    Ranbaxy, India’s largest pharmaceutical company which owns Revital has chosen Khan, Bollywood star with smash hits such as Dabangg, Ready and Bodyguard, over Singh, currently undergoing cancer treatment in the US.
    “Revital suffered a damage in positioning, since Yuvraj Singh has been hospitalized after detection of cancer. Thus to counteract and keep business in safe boundaries, they (Ranbaxy) signed Salman Khan”, R B Smarta, managing director of Interlink Consultancy, said.

    A Ranbaxy official however said that the “megastar was an obvious choice keeping in mind the huge mass appeal he carries and also because he is a fitness icon.”

    Smarta agrees, and adds that the decision to choose Khan for an estimated endorsement fee of Rs 7 crore was an ideal move by Ranbaxy Global Consumer Healthcare.

    What accompanied Khan’s Holi wishes was a limited period offer to test, free of cost, the newly introduced brand extension of the country’s best selling health supplement – Revital Woman.

    For a company that began its sampling campaign with 12 million sample capsules being distributed through magazines in six months time a couple of years ago, email promotions is just an extension of its mass campaigns in the twitter-friendly world.,, there are brand extensions galore on the cyberspace as Ranbaxy tries to extract the maximum out of its money spinning Revital – a combination of vitamin, mineral and the Chinese wonder herb Ginseng. While Revital Woman targets the special needs of women, Revital Senior is meant for people aged above 50.

    Led by Revital, Ranbaxy’s Consumer Healthcare or non-prescription business recorded sales of Rs 311 crore, a growth of over 20 per cent year on year in 2011. The company has not disclosed Revital revenues separately.

    However, the latest data generated by market research entity AIOCD AWACS shows that Revital brands grossed Rs 158.5 crore for the 12 months ended February 2012 (on a moving annual total or MAT basis). The MAT value on February 2011 for the brand was Rs 140.7 crore. Comparable figures for the same period in 2010 and 2009 were Rs 117.5 crore and Rs 68.1 crore, respectively.

    “Revital, is Ranbaxy’s flagship OTC brand and is the No. 1 Vitamin & Mineral Supplement Brand (IMS Health SSA MAT Dec 11) in India”, a company official said.

    The domestic OTC products market is pegged at over Rs 4,000 crore, growing at 12-14 per cent. Revitals’ competing brands include Dabur’s Chyawanaprash, Himalaya’s Liv-52 and Pfizer’s Becosule.

    Major brands among rejuvenator products are Supractiv (Piramal), Nutralite (Amway), Nutrigo (Dabur), Well AM-PM, Well multivitamin (Modicare) and GNC (Guardian Lifecare Pvt. Ltd). However, in the specific Vitamins + Minerals + Ginseng segment, the competing brands are Actival – Z – (Taj Pharmaceuticals), Seven Seas Multispectrum (Merck), etc.

    According to Smarta, Revital was the fourth largest OTC brand in India as per Nicholas Hall 2010 report and had won the prestigious ‘Reader’s Digest Trusted Brand’ for the Health & Personal Care category for 2nd consecutive year in 2011.

    Revital had the first mover advantage as it was one of the well established brands already when Ranbaxy decided to shift the product from the drug category into a food supplement. By doing so, Ranbaxy got the freedom to price / revise price of Revital products without any fear of government interruption. Since the price control and profit margin restrictions are limited to drugs, Revital as a health supplement was better placed than Revital as a drug to penetrate the market, experts feel.

    “Revital’s success is largely attributed to an aggressive mix of first of its kind in over the counter (OTC) marketing and sales initiatives, like 21 day money back challenge or the rural van promotion”, Smarta points out.

    The company also tied up with FMCG major ITC to sell its products in rural areas as the distribution reach of an FMCG company into rural areas in India is much wider than that of a pharmaceutical company.

    Marketing experts also highlight the recent addition or dual usage of brand name (Revital) in current marketing collaterals featuring Khan. While the previous collateral with Yuvraj Singh had his signature along with headline “I Trust Only Revital”, the current one with Salman Khan has his signature along with the headline “I Trust Revital…Only Revital”—perhaps the reason why Revital enjoys 88 per cent market share in its comparable health supplement segment.


Back to Top