Jaldi 5 with Lavneesh Gupta, COO, RBNL: Big Magic has taken over mantle of ‘challenger’ in comedy genre

04 Sep,2014

It took the age-old tales of Akbar-Birbal to work the magic for Reliance Broadcast Network Ltd’s Big Magic channel. The channel went national with a focus on humour and is now ecstatic with the numbers that it has been generating on the ratings roster. MxMIndia interviewed Lavneesh Gupta, COO, RBNL on how the channel is doing and its plans for the near-future.


01. It’s been a little over four months since Big Magic relaunched as a GEC serving light-hearted entertainment. How has the channel’s journey been so far?

It was in April end-May this year, with the launch of Akbar Birbal that we decided to take Big Magic national. The channel’s value proposition of clutter-breaking and fresh content in the humour space is largely responsible for the success the channel has seen in the last few months.


There are challenges and we still have a great distance to cover but I think the report card this far has been very healthy and positive. In the recent past, we have also launched a whole slew of content with new shows and bigger faces:  Uff Yeh Nadaniyaan with Upasana Singh, Raavi Aur Magic Mobile and Ajab Gajab Ghar Jamai with Himani Shivpuri and Sumit Vats. We are building block-by-block. Today, we have about 2.5 hours of original content, and we will take it up to 3-3.5 hours by the end of this quarter.


We have proven dominance in the Hindi-speaking markets, offering marketers 10% incremental reach in the markets of UP, MP and Rajasthan when compared to the Top 6 GECs. With content that satisfies the entertainment quotient of the entire family we are seeing excellent traction amongst audiences and marketers alike.


02. The Hindi entertainment is hotting up with yet another GEC having launched on Monday in the form of Pal. Zindagi was launched in the premium genre and then there are the channels airing Classic movies. Does this pose challenges to a channel like Big Magic?

When we were in the process of planing our national rollout we were very conscious of one key aspect that we observed in Indian GECs and that was marginal differentiation. We decided that for our channel the positioning has to be absolutely clear for our viewers to help us create a space for ourselves. The opportunity existed in the humour space and we capitalized on the same. Also, we serve original programming, which is backed by insights and research undertaken in the core markets, which ensures greater appeal amongst audiences.


The current performances (average of last 4 weeks) are testimony to how the channel is performing vis-a-vis the newly launched channels. In GVTs, Big Magic stands at 42 mn GVTs, as against Rishtey and Zindagi at 35mn and 26mn GVTs respectively.


More channels means healthy competition and a larger palette for the end-consumer. Having said that, every market has a threshold and a limit to how many GECs it can accommodate. We have seen scenarios like this about four-five years back too and eventually, the broadcasters will have to re-look at consolidating their positions based on market dynamics.


03. In the Hindi light entertainment genre, Sab is the clear leader. What are Big Magic’s plans to get closer to that and get to the three-figure ratings number?

Sab TV had the foresight to create a product that moved away from the traditional programming. From our perspective, we have been able to re-brand Big Magic as a national channel and take over the mantle of being the ‘challenger’ in the comedy genre, all within a short timespan. We have performed well in our core markets and have our distribution in place.


In terms of reaching the three-figure ratings, four months is too early to say. However, our strategy is to have our ear to the ground, listen closely to the viewers and keep them laughing ‘with’ our programming. In our core markets in fact Akbar-Birbal performs better than several of Sab’s shows like Balveer, Chidiya Ghar and Tu Mere Agal Bagal Hai.


04. Will Akbar-Birbal be an infinite run or will we see it in seasons? What new serials on the anvil? Any reality shows?

Akbar-Birbal is still a young show, but it has caught on superbly amongst audiences. The show does very well and we have some of the best talent faces on it like Kiku Sharda, Vishal Kotial, Delznaaz Irani and Kishwar Merchant. We have received a very encouraging response and should see a long innings.


Yes, we are looking at an interesting line up of new shows too which are in the pipeline for later this year.


05. How has the channel done with advertisers? Do we any innovations on the channel that could make the proposition (more) attractive to advertisers?

We have all the leading advertisers on board, and our inventory is full, and the fact that we are able to achieve this target inspite of the fact that we recently hiked our ad rates by 70 per cent underlines the confidence that advertisers have in the brand.


On the innovation front, we are exploring several new IPs and AFPs with brands to help them leverage our local reach. One such recent innovation, where we customised the communication, was the launch of Freshpanti – an on-ground activation with Clean and Clear, a college contact programme which is the hunt for the fresh face of the year. The idea here was to take a reality show to multiple on-ground locations, with a gratification for the winner to feature on one of the channel’s shows.


Any special initiatives on the channel’s distribution and marketing?

We have an extremely effective and robust distribution in place and are available on all leading DTH platforms and MSOs. We also have exhaustive distribution in the LC1 markets with our availability on DD Free Dish which gives us significant incremental reach over the top GECs. We have recently also inked our contract with Tata Sky which completes our entire spectrum of DTH operators and we will be up shortly.


On the marketing front, we are going all out with focus in our core markets to seed the brand further through a 360 degree approach.


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