August 2010
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Fox International Channels : Fox on the trot


Fox International Channels, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, has launched a bevy of specialty channels to target the Indian audience: FX, FOX Crime, Nat Geo Music, Nat Geo Adventure, Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo HD and Baby TV. While FX is an English general entertainment channel and Nat Geo HD is the high-definition feed of National Geographic, the rest are niche channels. These would add to its existing channels, National Geographic and Fox History, and counter competition from Discovery and BBC’s special interest channels which are being lined up for India.


Fox had soft-launched these channels through Sun DTH, which has over 5.3 million subscribers, last year. That gave it a year’s worth of feedback. While it helped tune the content of the channels before a national launch, Fox also read usage patterns of its existing channels and Indian TV viewing to select the six new channels from its 185-channel portfolio. Fox International Channels Managing Director (India) Keertan Adyanthaya says, “Crime shows do well in India, be they on news or on entertainment channels. Even on Fox History, programmes on famous crimes of the past had fared well. Hence, Fox Crime was one of the selected channels from our library.” Similarly wildlife bands on the popular National Geographic channel paved way for Nat Geo Wild. Nat Geo Adventure targets the urban upwardly-mobile audiences’ growing preference for adventure destinations across the world.

Fox is aware of the duplication that might occur on the many channels, such as between FX and FOX Crime or National Geographic and Nat Geo Wild. “There will be further segmentation. While a mother channel will have the choicest programmes from the different sub-genres, the specialty channels will explore these themes further,” says Adyanthaya.


What about Baby TV? Experts say such channels are being launched because there is a clear gap in TV content for babies and toddlers. The pejorative connotations of kids watching TV are being gradually replaced with the opinion that TV can educate as more parents subscribe to interactive education on DTH platforms and let children watch channels on nature and those meant for kids. Fox too found an endorsement for such a trend when it carried out a survey to decide if Baby TV, with a slow pace of narrative and short episodes for kids under three years of age, needed to be dubbed in local languages. The resounding response from parents and care-givers was to retain it in English so that toddlers can pick up the English language while watching it.


While the increasing relevance of lifestyle and niche channels in India is said to be garnering no less than Rs 300 crore worth of advertising every year, advertisers would now have as many as nine channels to choose from Fox’s bouquet. However, Adyanthaya says the company would not be bundling channels for sale as “that decreases the value one associates with a specific channel”.


Fox will bank on the digital platform for its new channels. Also, all of them being pay channels, digital carriage platforms promise a clearer subscription model. “We expect 70 per cent of our revenue to come from digital subscribers. For now our target would be to get at least 10 million digital subscribers, which is half the DTH universe,” says Adyanthaya. Overall, advertisers would still account for 50 per cent of its revenues.

 

 
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