Viacom18 has announced that it will launch a third English channel, GEC Colors Infinity, shortly. The new channel will be available in SD and HD, and target an audience beyond just the metros.
Sudhanshu Vats, group CEO, Viacom18, said, “Today, we are the world’s second largest English speaking population and live in an environment where English is seen as a ladder to personal progress. The market is widening its appeal across viewers who think and speak in English, but haven’t been invited to consume international entertainment yet. Colors Infinity aims to speak to this larger audience which goes beyond the metros and has never been addressed by the category. English is an extremely important space for us and with this move, we will further strengthen our share in the category.”
Ferzad Palia, EVP – Viacom18 and head, English entertainment, added, “Globally, television series have become a force to reckon with, be it in terms of scale of production, Hollywood actors being cast, quality of storytelling, writing and in many other ways. This is the ‘golden age’ of television. Colors Infinity, with its sheer breadth of offering and carefully selected content from across global markets, will be the definitive platform for the best in English language entertainment across genres. Freshness will be at the core of what we do, be it the content we air, scheduling strategy or marketing. Our objective is to grow the category by broadening the appeal and reaching to a wider base.”
The channel has a library of over 2,000 hours of content following acquisition deals between Viacom18 and networks such as Warnes Bros. International Television Distribution, NBC Universal, Sony Pictures Television, Twentieth Century Fox, Lionsgate, MGM, BBC and Endemol Shine.
Reasoning the launch of an English entertainment GEC, Palia said: “English Entertainment is now becoming mainstream – when we say mainstream, we’re not talking about going to rural. English is now the default second language to most. Language barrier is history. You have 250 million Indians who are English-literate. About ten years ago this number was close 25 to 30 million. The English entertainment genre today reaches about 200 million individuals; post DAS we’ve added 20 per cent more consumers and this is growing rapidly. The number of advertisers has grown 60 per cent in the last five years. We’re also seeing that 60 per cent of consumption is happening outside metros. From an advertiser’s perspective, it is a lucrative base."
“We’ve done a lot of consumer work over the last few years and it’s a big insight that we as broadcasters, are to blame in a large sense, for getting consumers to go and download series. There is a reason – they (consumers) aren’t getting the content that they should have been getting and we’re partly to blame,” he added.
Bollywood personalities Karan Johar and Alia Bhatt have been brought in as ‘co-curators’ for the content. Palia explained, “Karan and Alia have been an integral part of our decision-making process. Their perfect blend of insight and finesse has helped shape our content selection and brand. We’re delighted to welcome them to the Colors Infinity family and to work closely with them.”
The duo would also be involved with the marketing campaign.
Vats explained the extension of the Colors brand, and how it would be leveraged in building relevance for the new channel. He said, “Colors is perceived as the most successful media brand by our consumers and we’ve tested this. Colors is a very urban brand, a very aspirational brand and will have a lot of resonance and therefore appeal to the right set of people we want to reach. Our endeavour is to grow the pie.”
The new channel will adopt a subscription-cum-advertising model, and sit alongside Viacom18’s English portfolio that comprises Vh1 and Comedy Central.