UTV Action gets set for growth

27 Dec,2011


By Rishi Vora


This January will see UTV group’s Hindi movie action channel UTV Action’s second anniversary. The channel was launched in January 2010 with an aggressive marketing and distribution push. The TG was predominantly male in the age group of 15 years and above.


The channel’s plan was to cash in on the increasing popularity of action films, primarily Hollywood films for an audience that preferred Hindi viewing as against English. The company had conducted a preliminary research prior to the launch of the channel which stated that out of 10 movies watched, seven to eight are action films.


So UTV Action offered English films dubbed in Hindi. As a result, the trend picked up and many other players, including other entertainment channels, started doing the same.


Sameer Ganapathy

The channel has grown in the last two years and is currently clocking between 40-50 GRPs in the male set. This viewership, as claimed by Business Head Mr Sameer Ganapathy, is scattered across markets in India. “In the initial phases, we expected more viewership from a select few markets. But, quite surprising we noticed that the viewership was coming from all the Hindi speaking markets in India. The channel surpassed our expectation as far as ratings were concerned. Apart from the metros, we saw a lot of traction from markets like Gujarat, UP, MP etc. And that’s how we started to build our viewership,” he said.


On their major rivals in the TV space, he said, “We mostly look at the Hindi movie belt as competition. But if you take the male audience, there are multiple genres that come to mind. If you look at the market, and it is fairly large, we’re bigger than the infotainment set, we’re bigger than any Hindi news channel.”


For the past one year, the channel has tied up with international studios; the biggest of the lot is the tie up with Warner Brothers. These international tie-ups helped the channel to significantly reduce the window gap between the telecast of a movie on an English movie channel and its dubbed version on UTV Action.


Manasi Sapre

Programming head Manasi Sapre explained the viewership pattern: “Though we see a fair degree of viewership on the weekends, if you look at the overall numbers, they’re quite evenly spread.”


Recently, the channel underwent a revamp, with a new tagline: “Home of the Warriors”. Ms Sapre believes the new look is on the lines of the titles acquired by the channel: “It is a more modern, high-tech and a sci-fi kind of a look which goes well with our TG.”


It may be recalled that a Telugu version of the channel was launched in July this year. This is a clear indication that regional is the way to go in the future. UGBL CEO MK Anand has been quoted stating that the channel will look to expand its offering in Malayalam and Bengali.


However, Mr Ganapathy said, “Our immediate task at hand is to build our viewership. We have seen the channel make good progress, and now is the time to further expand our base in the existing markets before launching or expanding our offering to other languages.”


The channel, in the next three quarters, will look to increase its market share by 25 per cent. If that does happen, UTV Action will leap forward into the 60 GRPs bracket (CS 15 + Hindi Speaking Markets). The strategy, as Mr Ganapathy explained, is to justify investments made on content acquisition and marketing activities in the next three quarters. “In the next three quarters, our aim is to consolidate and build our position.” He added, “UTV Action will become the single largest non-sport male viewership destination in the country.”


After two years in the business, new look, more titles, the plan to expand to regional markets (the channel’s conscious call to start with the southern belt with Telugu), what’s in store next year? It’s a wait and watch affair.


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