Anchor | One Big Idea by Anand Chakravarthy : Simulcast – mantra for national advertisers in era of niche channels

14 Jan,2013

By Anand Chakravarthy, Business Head, Big CBS Networks


If one had to define the evolution of the television industry with one word, the most apt would be – segmentation. And while this segmentation enables brands to identify the ‘best’ media vehicles for themselves, it also presents a challenge to mass brands like telecom companies, FMCG brands, etc. in reaching out to their entire TG. For such national brands, Simulcast is the solution they need to reach a diverse TG.


Where we have come from?

The television industry has witnessed a high degree of segmentation over the last couple of years. First networks started concentration on creating content in different languages to offer channels in Punjabi, Marathi, Gujarati, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, etc. This was followed by segmentation in terms of viewing preferences. Hence, while one had English GECs, English channels catering to travel, lifestyle, fashion, food, automobiles, etc. were also launched in a bid to differentiate the content and tap a niche audience base.


The advent of niche channels was a boon for most brands in the country since they could now spend their advertising money more effectively talking only to a viewer who is likely to buy their product. For brands catering to youth, women or specific regions the segmentation was a much needed step in the right direction. However, the flip side to the segmentation is that national brands which cater to a wide target audience now need to advertise in multiple channels to reach out to their TG. This is where the emerging trend of Simulcast is helping brands tap multiple viewer groups.


The trend of simulcast has existed for quite some time in the television industry but it’s only recently that it has gained popularity. Simply put, simulcast is broadcasting a show simultaneously on multiple channels. The channels may or may not belong to the same network. Two of the most popular examples of simulcast are the show Satyamev Jayate, which was broadcast on nine channels simultaneously and cricket matches featuring the Indian team, which are broadcast on Doordarshan in tandem with the official sports broadcaster.


Simulcast among English GECs

When we created the Big CBS network, our aim was to offer advertisers a means to reach out to urban viewers and segment the audience on the basis of their viewing preferences. Hence, we had Prime targeted at men, Love for women and Spark for youth. However, there were some advertisers for whom the entire urban TG was relevant. Hence, when we brought shows such as the latest season of America’s Got Talent, this year, we decided to air it simultaneously on all our three channels.


The show was an instant hit with both our viewers and advertisers. Backed by the success of the show, we decided to follow the simulcast strategy for two more shows – The X Factor & American Idol.


As a strategy simulcast cannot (and should not!) be used for every show. Simulcast should only be considered when there is a synergy between the content of the show to the TG of multiple channels. Otherwise, instead of garnering more viewers, the strategy can end up alienating a dedicated viewership.


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