Mr. Ravish Kumar, Executive Vice President, Viacom 18 and Business Head Regional Channels, ETV Bangla spoke to team Sholoana Bangaliana about their brand new concept Duronto Dupur, the way ahead for the entertainment industry of Bengal and all that one can expect from ETV Bangla in the near future. Excerpts..
Sholoana Bangaliana: Hello Sir, the fact that today we are at the launch function of an entirely new concept that ETV Bangla has come up with, fuels my first question and that is why suddenly the need of a Duronto Dupur; more so, because it is said that Bengalis sleep in the afternoon?
Mr. Ravish Kumar: (Laughs) Well then I would say it’s time to wake up and Duronto Dupur is a wakeup call. See actually the afternoon is the need of the hour now and we feel that the want is there and people are looking for good engaging content. We have identified that viewership is very much there and people who are at home are looking for something interesting watch. Having said that, we have also noticed that currently whatever is presented during this time slot are just repeats, even though there is viewership and a hunger for good content. Moreover, the Bnegal market is like no other as, nowhere else have I seen prime time starting from evening five and ending at eleven in the night, an analysis guided by which we are actually launching some of our costliest properties during this slot and not just presenting any simple run off the mill stuff. With the afternoon slot we had the opportunity to make a meaningful difference and give people something to look forward to which lead to the development of this entire new plan.
Sholoana Bangaliana: If we go by the stats, ETV is really lagging behind in terms of GRP so do you think this new plan will help in improving the channel’s GRP which if I am not mistaken is ranging somewhere in the one-hundreds while that of the competing channels is at 600+?
Mr. Ravish Kumar This has become a very difficult market as over time a lot of players came and went but the entire game remained solely in the hands of Star Jalsha and Zee Bangla. Against this backdrop we have seen Mahua Bangla come and go, Sananda come and go and Ruposhi struggle; we therefore feel that rather than taking it head on with the leaders in a market like this, we should try to make a meaningful difference. We feel that people will automatically come when content is good and this is what we are focusing on with our programming. We try to identify areas that are latent and unmet and try to go after them. During the entire last year we have tried to present many good shows and they have also given us results to a limited extant primarily because viewer habits are more or less set and habits are the hardest to break. Viewers, who have been watching a particular show for many months together, if not years, will just not change their preference and switch over so you can call this a classic flanking strategy.
Sholoana Bangaliana: Previously ETV was the leader in presenting Telefilms which we do not get to see anymore these days. Are you thinking about revamping this whole content and presenting it in a new avatar again?
Mr. Ravish Kumar Yes we are working on this content again and we have color corrected them and re-mastered them and they will follow the program schedule of Duronto Dupur as the time slot of evening four to five-thirty has been allotted to this content. We have some of the best Tele-films ever made and people who had made them then are now celebrated film makers working in the industry so the content that we have is really good. Therefore we are taking this in two steps, the first being, re-launching them and the second being improvising and taking them ahead.
Also, Bengal has an envious talent pool that is capable of presenting great content and as a channel we believe that it is our responsibility to give them a platform of expression and encourage such wonderful works of art.
Sholoana Bangaliana: Currently we can see that the city is flooded with hoardings and posters announcing Duronto Dupur which makes me quite curious about the budget allocated for the promotion work…..How much are you really spending on promotions?
Mr. Ravish Kumar: Well, it’s good news that you have spotted our banners! We have allocated a sum of 2 Crores for all the promotion work and we shall be going ahead with the entire plan in three phases, the first being teasers that have been on air for quite some time, the second being the revealer which we are doing now, the third being the show specific promotions. We have over 300 hoardings in different areas around the city, station brandings, extensive radio spots, cross channel promotions, print media ads and all other mediums of promotion that will be utilized to their full potential.
Sholoana Bangaliana: When selecting the content for a particular slot, what thought process and market analysis guides your decisions?
Mr. Ravish Kumar: How I wish we knew what really works! Nevertheless, what we primarily try to identify is whether the audience can relate to the content and whether the content being presented is relevant enough. People tend to fall in love with the protagonist and identify with his journey, life or struggle. Say for example, The Mega Serial Gouridaan is one that is very relevant as it is about change and something that Bengal has always been a pioneer at. Moreover, Gouridaan is an adaptation of one of the top rated Hindi Mega serials Balika Vadhu which all the more gives us the confidence of audience acceptability as it is a tried and tested concept which is still appreciated and addictively followed by people across the country. For Durgesh Nandini we again have no doubts as being a Bankim Chandra novel adaptation it is close to every Bengali’s heart. More so, Bengal’s literature is so rich and ever so relevant that they have relevance across all ages and times due to which they can always be presented without the fear of any audience drop outs.
Sholoana Bangaliana: Gouridaan, as we just discussed is an adaptation of Balika Vadhu. So did you pick this topic only because you were sure about the returns as it has already proven its acceptability in other parts of the country?
Mr. Ravish Kumar No, not just that, Gouridaan is relevant even today and to add to that it carries a strong message and educates people in more ways than one and as a Television channel we also have a responsibility towards society which all the more led us to zero down on Gouridaan. It has been proven time and again that programs that have a message always do well with the audience as not always can one go on with just another petty kitchen-politics story or saas-bahu drama. Unfortunately, for many people television is probably the only medium of knowing about all that is happening in the world which again leaves us with the responsibility of presenting content that is relevant and has something to take back from.
Sholoana Bangaliana: We have heard about and even seen all that you are doing to reach out to the masses here in Bengal; what promotion strategies have you chalked out for the overseas audience?
Mr. Ravish Kumar: We do not have any overseas promotion plans as we feel that if these do well here they will any which ways do well all across the globe as the Bengali sentiments remain the same and people overseas will also love to watch what people here enjoy watching.
Sholoana Bangaliana: You have spent so much on promotions; so what is the feedback like, are people inquisitive about all that’s coming up?
Mr. Ravish Kumar: Yes, we have got positive feedback and people have shown the curiosity and eagerness to find out more about all that is coming up new on ETV Bangla which is quite a positive sign for us.
Sholoana Bangaliana: By way of the show Parar Shera Bouthan you have tried to build on the mass connect as here singer Aneek Dhar along with his team visits every Pada and brings together families to play games and win prizes; do you think this will add to the brand strength?
Mr. Ravish Kumar These days events are not just events in their literal sense, they have become two three things mixed together; it’s part of reach building, awareness creation as well as content generation. This game show Parar Shera Bouthan is not just about branding and promotions where Aneek Dhar goes out, meets people and gives away prizes; here he is also doing the job of bringing out new talents and giving them a platform to showcase their skills which along with all the branding also brings a sense of gratification and loyalty.
Sholoana Bangaliana: What are your future plans about the kind of content you want to present on ETV Bangla?
Mr. Ravish Kumar: Well, the basic idea that guides us is the need to delight the audience and give them something to look forward to and even take back from. TV viewing needs to be a delightful experience and that is just what all our programs, promotions and plans will always be revolving around.
We wish the team of ETV Bangla The Very Best and hope that are really able to make a meaningful difference by presenting new and unique content.
Interview: Mr. Ravish Kumar- Executive Vice President, Viacom 18 and Business Head ETV Bangla (You Tube)