Rajesh Kamat has a clear mandate: to put Colors at a formidable position amongst the top three players in the GE category. Not an easy task given that it is the tenth player in the space. Kamat, however, is sitting smug. Viacom 18, a 50:50 JV between the US-based Viacom and Network 18, already reaches out to millions of viewers through its TV and filmed entertainment offerings via MTV, Nick, VH1 and Studio 18. With differentiation and disruption driving the 'Colors' launch strategy, Kamat is confident of maxing the GRP game within a year of the channel's launch.
In a chat with Gunjan Prasad, the morning after the big launch, Kamat, shares a few more thoughts.
Q. Isn't 'Colors' more appropriate for a channel looking to tap niche, upmarket audience and not really the masses of India?
A. It is as mass as mass can be. In most of U.P and Bihar, people use Color more than 'rang'. E.g, they would ask for "Red colour ki shirt" or "Black and White hai ya Colour?" In India, where photocopy is Xerox, I would ideally want to be the 'Color TV' for the country.
Q. Viacom is known for its 360-degree commissions. Any examples of how you intend to use the different mediums available to you cohesively?
A. We will have Akshay Kumar with 13 beauties in a boot camp in South Africa for the show Fear factor – Khatron ke Khiladi. There is no rule that says we can fly Cyrus Broacha to the location and shoot his take on the programme for MTV. The possibilities are endless and the fit will change with each property. However, in the first phase we are essentially looking to leverage our stronghold in the young adult, kids and the news genres and funnel these early adopters and initiators to 'Colors'. Our programming mix should then take over.
Q. 'Jo dikhta hai, woh bikta hai' is the premise Indian television seems to be working on. What are your distribution strengths over the others?
A. When I was working with Britannia as a management trainee in early days of my career, we would promote Bourbon biscuits by bundling them with the fast moving Glucose brand. Bundling is what works in this industry too. That said, though we are not a part of any alliances, we have over time built relationships that will ensure better placement of our properties.
Q. Have you roped in any advertisers yet?
A. Though no deals have been signed yet, we have had numerous enquiries ever since the news about Akshay Kumar leaked out. We promise our advertisers great product, guarantee of eyeballs and a royal lineage. Once a brand is associated with a differentiated product like 'Colors', it automatically cuts across a lot of clutter. However, to start with, once you have Akshay Kumar as a host of the flagship show, there are a minimum of seven to eight brands that come with him.
Q. Any insights that you gathered while researching for the content for 'Colors'?
A. Ninety per cent of households in India own a single TV and there is immense need for programming that promotes cohesive viewing. Also, India is essentially Bharat and aspirations and drivers of non-metro and rural India are quite different from the metros. Broadcasters, thus, need to differentiated and customised content as per time bands instead of recreating what has worked for others.