Jaldi 5 with Ravish Kumar, ETV Kannada: Movies are like steroids, they do great things for the channel but one should never get used to them

11 Apr,2014

A quick chat with Ravish Kumar, EVP Viacom18 and Business Head, ETV Kannada who is riding high on the success of ETV Kannada. From a #5 two years back, the channel has emerged as a strong #2 in the Kannada GEC space. Driving synergies from the Viacom18 bouquet with the Kannada remake of Madhubala (Ashvini Nakshatra) and Balika Vadhu (Puttagowri Madhuve), it is the slot leader in the fiction genre with the shows constantly crossing the 900TVT mark.


01. From #5 in 2012 to #2 in 2014, ETV Kannada has taken rapid strides. What would you attribute this success to?

Well I would like to attribute this success to three things – People, Programming and Passion.


The entire journey from being at # 5 to now being at #.2 has been totally driven by the kind of content we produce and showcase on our channel that is overlooked by our Programming Head Parameshwar Gundhkal. Under him, we have our Fiction Head Chitrasri and our Nonfiction Head Raghav and it’s them and the amazing attitudes of the team that has helped us become a success story. This team has a proven track record, they have an intuitive understanding of the Kannadiga consumer and their needs. Coupled with interesting concepts for shows across genres, this is now a dream team to work with.


Secondly, at ETV Kannada, our aim and belief is to play on pure-content/programming philosophy. On the non-fiction front, ‘Bigg Boss’ was a big gamechanger for us and then working on strength to strength we followed up by a show called ‘Indian’ that is a home grown format and right now we are doing ‘The Dancing Star’ wherein we have licensed the content from BBC and we are producing it which makes for a hybrid format. All three formats of programming seem to work for us and provide the same numbers.


Lastly, being a young and creative team at ETV Kannada the content on-air reflects the enthusiasm, passion and the creativity of the team. Like on the fiction front, we had reached a plateau with the ratings for our show Ashvini Nakshatra and we needed to peg the marriage of an ordinary girl to a superstar on a large scale. We brought in the wife of southern superstar Sudeep Kicha to give tips to our protagonist on what it’s like to be married to a superstar and cut a promo on that which had the TRPs plummeting upwards thereafter.


02. There is a charge from purists that the channel lacks enough original Made-in-Kannada programming, given that you have Madhubala and Balika Vadhu remakes, dubbed international shows etc. Comment?

Well, we have experimented with both – fiction and non-fiction programmes. So while in the non-fiction line-up we have the remake of ‘Bigg Boss’ , at the same time we have built our own IPR with ‘Indian’ that gave us the same ratings. On the fiction front, we have 5 shows that feature in the top, of which 3 are original programming led- Charanadaasi/ Lakshmibaramma and Agni Sakshi followed by Ashvini Nakshatra (Madhubala) and Puttagowri Madhuve (Balika Vadhu) that are remakes. Both models of airing original content and adaptations that suit the sensibilities of the Kannada market have worked successfully for us.


03. ETV Marathi has seen much success with KHMC. While Suvarna has had the KBC in Kannada, is it a format that you would look at acquiring in future?

Well, we are always looking at adapting big format shows to the Kannada market and if this opportunity comes our way, then we would be open to it.


04. Since ETV has in its bouquet a slew of Indian language channels, are there any characteristics of the Kannada channel that are noteworthy vis-a-vis the others

The Kannadiga viewers have a voracious appetite for content but content that is well-made. They have a flair for adventure – they love shows like Indian that are task led, wherein the contestants have to walk the talk and prove themselves. Bigg Boss is a format that is a perfect blend of high voltage drama and emotions that brings out the voyeur in viewers across regions including the Kannadigas. They appreciate drama that is both relatable and progressive which is supported by our fiction programmes and these are their basic characteristics.


05. It’s interesting that you’ve grown despite showing Kannada films. Is that going to stay as is or will you change as you go along especially as you take a shot on reaching #1?

Well we are the only channel in the Kannada GEC space that do not rely on movies for gaining viewership. I personally believe that movies are like steroids as it does great things for the channel but one should never get used to them. Also in the coming future, the strategy/thought will probably not really change since the movie acquisition market has reached a point where it is not economically viable to acquire films.


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