History launches with innovations blitz

11 Oct,2011

By Dhara Salla

The History Channel launched its India edition on October 9 as part of a joint venture between TV18 and A+E Networks. The launch is a significant milestone in the Indian media space as it marks an alliance between dynamic television media conglomerate TV18 and factual entertainment biggie A&E Networks.

Mr Raghav Bahl, Founder and Editor, TV18 said on the occasion of the launch, “We have always believed in making a difference in the domain that we work in and we believe that factual entertainment will emerge as one of the mainstays of the Indian television space.”

Mr Haresh Chawla, Group CEO, Network18 said, “We believe that the Indian market is ripe for alternative formats and that is one of the reasons for us to bring in channels like History into this market. Factual entertainment is emerging as the new preferred choice across the world and the genre has the potential to become mainstream in India as well.”

Ms Sangeetha Aiyer, General Manager Marketing, History, told MXM India, “By far this is one of the biggest media launches in the year and most definitely the biggest in the factual entertainment genre, in terms of impact, visibility, engagement, etc across traditional and new media.”

As a channel, History has transformed itself by using very innovative formats that move away from the traditional concept of History being about dates, B&W footage, World War II etc. That DNA of innovation is being replicated everywhere including the marketing campaign. According to media reports, the marketing spend would be between Rs 150-170 million.

The string of innovations began with the channel announcing its association with Bollywood star Salman Khan to be the face of the channel in an attempt to broad-base the appeal of History and the factual entertainment genre.

In terms of Outdoor or Out of Home, innovative formats where the content seems to come alive and appear real will give passersby a first-hand taste of what History is all about. Some examples of engaging outdoor innovations are the Ice Road Trucker bridge replicated on a foot overbridge, Sliced where the anchor actually seems to ‘slice’ the hoarding, Swamp People, which has a brilliant life like cut-out of a crocodile/alligator, and Top Shot where smoke actually comes out of a gun which is part of the hoarding.

On the programming and the content front, History channel has found out that Indian viewers across demographics are interested in experimenting with alternative forms of content, as far as the entertainment quotient is not compromised upon. The channel is being launched with universal themes that use the premise of history.

Ms Aiyer said, “It will also announce a few big-ticket local productions that match international scale, very shortly.” The major chunk of the content is currently from the History US catalogue, with an appeal to viewer preferences in India. However, the channel is also experimenting with local production possibilities.

How would this channel differ from the existing ones in this genre? Ms Aiyer said, “Firstly there is no other History channel in the country. History Made Everyday, the channel’s new positioning, encompasses the breadth of content and themes that History brings to Indian audiences. History here is not just about the past, it’s as much about people making History today.”

AETN and Network 18 have come together as AETN 18 where Network 18 group holds 51 percent share and AETN holds 49 percent.

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