Campaign India Team
Dec 19, 2011

"F1 special Top Gear brought 49% gain in viewership": Deepak Shourie, BBC Entertainment

Deepak Shourie, director, BBC Worldwide Channels South Asia talks about one year of BBC Entertainment in India

How is BBC entertainment shaping up since its refresh in January 2011?

The refreshed BBC entertainment proposition from January onwards is absolutely on track. We reach almost 25 million homes, focused in metros to an upscale English speaking audience. We are on DTH platforms (Airtel Digital TV, Tata Sky, Reliance DTH) and in cable-homes in these markets, there is also personalised presence in other markets. The numbers currently look good and promising, and advertisers also are very supportive. Currently around 90 big brands are on the channel.

How has the year 2011 been for BBC Entertainment in terms of marketing strategies and show line-up?

We’ve had an action packed year from a marketing and programming perspective. We’ve had several high impact campaigns: From the channel launch in January, to 2 new seasons of Dancing with the Stars, the Royal Wedding Live Broadcast, Top Gear Formula One Special and the on-ground association with The Comedy Store for the launch of the Friday Comedy Nights. In addition to these we’ve had successful titles such as Sherlock, The Graham Norton Show and BBC Earth that have garnered a huge fan following. The line-up for 2012 looks even more promising.

Although you are in a niche category, there are a couple of competitors. What makes you different?

BBC Entertainment is programmed with primarily British content, while others are running US content. Both are quite dramatically different from each other. In spite of the fact, that there are several new channels that being launched re-launched and re-energised, we have been able to carve a niche for ourselves.

F1 was one of the mega events that were held in our country and Top Gear being one of the most popular shows from BBC’s basket. What special did you do around the same?

Top Gear is not just a car show, it’s a lifestyle show. We had launched Formula One special series of Top Gear. In that we had some of the best episodes of Top Gear which featured F1 racers Rubens Barrichello, David Coulthard and Jenson Button. We ran the special for a week including a special back to back stack on the race weekend. The special delivered a 49% gain in viewership for BBC Entertainment and 67% SECA audience that shows BBC Entertainment programming reaches out to a very upscale viewer.

Apart from this, what else has been making news for you?

BBC’s forte really is in natural history and factual content. The Good Food block and the natural history strip (BBC Earth) have been doing really well. Food in general is a really popular genre. And that is why we have given it the recognition to it since day one.

Other important programs lined-up are the new season of Dancing with the Stars, Best of 2011 in which the audience has chosen the best shows on BBC Entertainment that they would like to see as part of the New Year line up. There is a new season of Gok’s Fashion Fix and the latest season of Graham Norton.  It’s going to be an action-packed last quarter for us.

There is a perception that BBC programmes are targeted at the elite audiences. Your comment.

Our strength is that we define our audiences as English-speaking ones and never on the basis of regions. India being a very kaleidoscopic culture, defining audiences is important to cut through this. If the perception is that BBC is just for the elite, then we don’t mind it as that is what our advertiser wants to target at. This would give our advertisers an uncluttered environment. The only thing that unites the whole country is Bollywood; and neither are we Bollywood nor do we intend to hit this genre.

India is a very vast and diverse country, so how do you strategise to create the perfect mix of programs?

 I doubt if there exists something like “perfect mix.” I believe the mix keeps on evolving with time. For a multi-genre channel, you need to have a different strategy. At BBC Entertainment, we follow a block strategy. So on prime time we have shows on natural history, drama, lifestyle and even Top Gear!

India offers the size as well as aspirations of the rising middle class. Tier II cities are also very relevant. Those are the markets which have the capacity to pay more and therefore, the advertising pie in India is getting bigger, with almost all leading international businesses wanting to have a presence in India. While we need like to pay more attention to have a presence at the tier II and tier III cities, language will be an issue as, although, English is understood and spoken, it is not the norm everywhere.

For channels like yours, how important is to have a presence on social network?

In the current scenario, it is very important to have a social marketing presence. Our Facebook page has earned over 1,00,000 in less than one year.  The dialogue between the fans is an important tool to gain viewer feedback, audience reaction and helps identify trends that could help plan for the future. 

Campaign India

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