English channels like National Geographic, Fox History woo Indians with desi flavour14 NOV, 2011, 03.57AM IST, MEENAKSHI VERMA AMBWANI,ET BUREA
NEW DELHI: English entertainment and edutainment channels, which have for long aired their original foreign shows to viewers in India, are increasingly looking to add local flavour to their content in a bid to woo Indian audiences and garner a bigger share of the advertising pie.
The list is growing. Twentieth Century Fox recently tied-up with Slumdog Millionaire star Anil Kapoor to produce an Indian version of its popular serial, 24, at a budget of 100 crore in Hindi and other languages.
Infotainment channel History was launched in six languages about six weeks ago. Besides English, the channel is also available Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi and Bengali feeds. Bollywood star Salman Khan was signed in to promote the channel. Popular TV and Bollywood star Rajeev Khandelwal was recently hired as the host of the National Geographic show, Nat Geo Super Cars.
"As I rummage through a lot of international content, I am seeing more and more international content of having some Indian reference or international content creators leaning towards India which is also because of the growing position of India as an economy in the entertainment space," said Ritu Kapur, programming head at History. "We are already working at commissioning local content to get higher eyeballs."
The change of strategy for the Indian market is understandable. Companies in the West, who developed entertainment and game shows over the last several years, are now finding huge demand from countries like India, for desi versions of these shows.
Some of the shows like Kaun Banega Crorepati (an Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millioanaire) hosted by superstars Amitabh Bachchan and Shahrukh Khan over the last ten years, has been a big success.
They are also eyeing a big chunk of TV industry revenues, which according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, grew by 14% year on year to 10,150 crore in 2010.
English Entertainment channels like Star World have been known for chat shows hosted by Simi Garewal besides Koffee with Karan featuring Karan Johar. Recently, Arjun Rampal has been roped in to host 'Love 2 Hate U' based on an international format.
The trend of airing local content has become more and more prevalent as new entrants in the space has led to more and more fragmentations of television viewership in India. "Even in the English entertainment and edutainment space you need to get the viewers back to your channel for appointment viewing every night so everyone is looking to create some shows, which get the consumer back to their channel every night," Rohit Bhandari, vice-president of AXN Networks India said. AXN airs the game show "Minute to Win it" hosted by Gaurav Kapoor.
Discovery Networks in India pioneered the trend of local content production by an edutainment channels with a show on Indian weddings as well as Living with a Superstar, featuring Shah Rukh Khan on TLC. Fox Traveller is another channel from the stable of Fox Channels, which has nearly half its content shot and produced locally. "We have about 70-80 hours of the content on Fox Traveller is locally produced, which helps us engage with the television viewer better," said Keertan Adyanthaya, managing director, Fox International Channel and National Geographic Network India.
National Geographic is available in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Bengali and recently got Khandelwal to host its auto show Super Cars. "Some of the documentaries that are shown on edutainment channels like National Geographic are high budget projects and it is not economically viable to make such shows for one particular region," he added.
Several international reality shows like the Amazing Race and World's Strictest Parents have sought approvals from the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting to shoot in India.
Kapur added that some of the international shows sourced by the channel like Ice land Truckers has a strong India connect as the show features truckers taking on some of the Himalayan roads