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Local Content on English GECs: A Trend in the Making | Himanka Das, CEO, Vizeum India

17 Jul 2019


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English GEC

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Koffee With Karan is possibly the only piece of content that became a household name, despite being aired on arather niche genre. Star World India launched the series in 2004, with the popular and successful director-producer Karan Johar, who was also known for his friendly relationships with majority of the Hindi film industry. Thecelebrity talk show, despite being in English, started getting accolades from the cross section of the society. 

However, up until around 2014, not many local productions were seen in the genre, barring MasterChef India that was launched in 2010, by Star World India. Post that, there have been many in the recent past, including names like Vogue BFFs, Born Stylish, The Stage and Starry Nights 2.Oh! 

Experts suggest digital platforms to be a key driver for this upward trend. Himanka Das, CEO, Vizeum, said, “Along with being available on TV, Vogue BFFs and Born Stylish are hosted on VOOT, The Stage and Starry Nights 2.Oh! on ZEE5. In a digitally well-connected world with significantly strong bandwidth, viewing contentthrough OTT platforms should not be compared with viewing choices and patterns on television. The structural shifts in consuming entertainment content across consumer segments are evident from data. As we are moving towards integrated screen viewing patterns, it’s getting dynamic and we are going through structured changes inviewing patterns.” 


The trend is definitely in the making, suggest a lot of other experts. For a long time, the genre has only focused onacquiring content. One of the major challenges that the genre has faced because of ‘acquisition-only’ contentstrategy is mis-attribution. If Friends was first telecast on Zee Cafe, and now is being run on Comedy Central, then viewers ought to misattribute the show to both the channels, or some other channel. Similarly, The Big BangTheory and Two And A Half Men, were brought to India by Zee Cafe but are now running on other channels, creating a lot of scope for misattribution. 

With original content, this problem is largely solved. One of the leading broadcasters in the genre said, “Similar issue of mis-attribution has been faced by the English movie genre and has been dealt with it. Even today, aJungle Book moving from Star Movies to &flix is not really noticed by the viewers, but it means a lot for the channel brands. While movie channels don’t have a way out of the problem, the GEC genre has a clear solution. Production costs for content that will match the international standards is huge, but the channels are finally betting big on these.” 

The reasons for the growing trend are many. 

Shaurya Mehta, Head, Premium Channels, ZEEL, suggested, “Over time, we have noticed that topics such as lifestyle, fashion, styling, celebrities and fitness have an immense following today. This opens up a huge opportunity and we have several shows in the pipeline for this year that are created just for the Indian audience. We will also be bringing another entertaining season of Starry Nights very soon this year.” 

Speaking about the channel’s only local content piece, he said, “While marquee International shows bring the best of the world to our viewers, locally produced content allows us to add a new dimension from the Indian point of view. With the launch of Starry Nights 2.Oh!, we were truly able to add that unique flavour to Zee Café’s wide repertoire of content. Prior to this, we had brought the Bollywood Talk Show “Look Who’s Talking with Niranjan”, to our audience in 2014.” 

Well, if the reasons for making local content are many, it is equally important that making and telecasting thiscontent makes business sense. The ad-rates on the genre are anywhere between Rs 2500-9000 for the regular shows for the top five channels. However, a show like Koffee With Karan might be garnering around Rs 30-35 crore from a single season, mainly because of the possibility of a lot of brand integrations. A show like Starry Nights 2.Oh! Is known to have earned close to Rs 2-3 crore for the channel, as per the industry sources. 

But do these shows really affect revenues in a big way? “I understand one should make money but it’s too early to equate cost vs revenue as it’s an investment towards setting a trend. Fundamentally, all rates are always governed by cost efficiencies, basis viewership and as per campaign objective and KPIs,” said Das. 

For Starry Nights 2.Oh! on Zee Café, The channel seems to have had a strong advertiser interest with eight partners coming on board as sponsors on the property, namely BMW and Sensodyne for the HD feed and others such as HDFC Life, Raymond - The Complete Man, Magicbricks, amongst others for the SD feed.