Three English channels are coming soon to TV screens from BIG CBS, the JV between Reliance Broadcasting Network Limited (RBNL) and CBS Studios International. Here’s what can be expected from it:
1 According to Aparnaa Pande, business head, BIG CBS Networks Ltd, “CBS wanted to come to India and Reliance wanted to start their own channels,” she said. “So it was the perfect marriage and everything matched – [we liked] the kind of quality that CBS brings to the table, and they liked the might that we bring to the table.” The JV is a limited liability company incorporated in India. CBS and RBNL (through its subsidiary) are to act as shareholders and each has 50% equity.
2 Three channels will be launched as a part of the bouquet. BIG CBS Prime, which will be an English GEC, will be the first to launch, in November. Programming includes ‘Blue Bloods’, the new season of ‘Survivor’ and ‘Late Show with David Letterman’ and reruns of ‘Frasier’. BIG CBS Spark is scheduled to launch in December and targets youth. BIG CBS Love launches in February with programming targeting women. The audience for all three will be SEC A and B. Pande explains, “We did a study across TAM and we did research of our own. There was space in the market for a GEC, because, within the English segment, there is no channel that has current programming.” In Pande’s opinion, while international films often release in India close enough to their worldwide premieres, the programming on TV doesn’t follow the same speed-to-market. “While people do watch it, there is a section that doesn’t. These people are going on the internet, travelling and getting the information from there, asking their friends. This segment is never going to be satisfied, and it’s ever growing,” she said. “Therefore, we thought of a GEC. We get the first right of use on all the shows; every show that we have showcased is an Emmy Award winner, the hosts are recognised. What we are bringing is something that is a legacy and a legacy which isn’t old.”
In terms of the other two channels, Pande said that both youth and women are category creators. “There is no youth English channel currently. The programming on BIG CBS Spark will be completely youth-friendly, with programmes like ‘90210’, snack-in-snack-out programmes, techno programmes etc. Women, again, are a sadly neglected market. We want to create a feel good destination for women.”
3 Pande said that plan is to be available on both digital and analog and to be present in 80 per cent of Indian homes on the day of the launch of BIG CBS Prime. “We’re definitely on Reliance Digicable; the rest cannot be talked about because we’re working on it and we’re almost in the stage of finalisation.” Digital content on platforms such as mobiles and the internet will be available eventually. “The deal is that we will launch first and then slowly get into all these media. And Reliance, especially within the media group, has all these different companies so it’s easier for us to get onto different media very fast,” said Pande.
To promote the offerings, the services of McCann Erickson and Steinbranding have been enlisted. Asked why viewers would switch to watching shows on BIG CBS that they’re already used to catching on an existing channel, Pande replied, “I think it’s just a matter of superior product. If I were to give you something old and new, you would naturally come onto the platform that offers the fresher version to you.” She added that all the media of communication available through RBNL would be employed, like BIG 92.7FM for radio, BIG Live for on-ground activation, BIG Street for out-of-home media and BIG Digital for mobile and online. “Besides that we will also do press. Our idea is to connect with audiences, so we will do whatever it takes,” stated Pande.
4 The future will also see programming being sourced from third party suppliers and Indian versions of the shows on air. “We’re taking the current shows that exist like ‘ET’ and we will create Indian versions. On the other channels, we’ve looked at franchises which work in India. So we will make Indian programming out of those,” said Pande. “Even if we make it here and air it on BIG CBS Prime, it will also air simultaneously across the world market.”
What it means for…
- Three new channels with English programming
- New seasons of international shows and Indian versions of these in the futureother English entertainment channels
- A battle for viewer attention, especially in the case of the same programme that airs on two channels
- The competition for ad spend could hot up as well