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Viacom18 expands with the regional audience, rebrands ETV to COLORS

The US Media Giant, Viacom Inc. which owns TV networks like MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, recently further strengthened their presence in the Indian market with the rebranding of their regional channels from ETV to COLORS.

Announcing this major change, Sudhanshu Vats Group CEO Viacom18 Media Pvt. Ltd. yesterday unveiled the new look of ETV. ETV which is one of the leading players in the regional space has now been rebranded to COLORS as COLORS Marathi, COLORS Gujarati, COLORS Bangla, COLORS Kannada and COLORS Oriya.

The U.S. pay-TV market is saturated, and consumers have begun rebelling over high costs by dropping cable and satellite connections altogether. Investing in fast-growing foreign TV markets, the Indian market is one of them where this giant is looking at strengthening its foothold.

Subject to receipt of mandatory regulatory approvals, Viacom Inc. through its subsidiary Nick Asia will acquire a 50% interest in the five regional general entertainment channels, while TV18 will continue to own the remaining 50%.

COLORS has established itself as a mass brand. The ETV general entertainment channels that will undergo the brand transition; have been pioneers in regional entertainment, mirroring the rich heritage and culture of each region, with differentiated and innovative programming. The rebranding of the regional GECs will augment the COLORS franchise while facilitating higher resonance for the regional channels vis-a-vis competition.

Commenting on the regional foray, Vats said, “59% of the country converses in regional languages as their primary language of choice. Today regional TV channels command the second largest viewership in India. The expansion fuels our growth strategy in building the COLORS franchise, a brand that has become the cultural touchstone for millions of Indians across the world. The move will help us foray into key regional markets as we nurture and monetise the bouquet across platforms.”

The ETV bouquet of channels so far has had a conservative approach so far, with the rebranding the network intends to expand to newer set of audiences and also bring in new shows and formats that exist on COLORS.

Sharing some insights on the Television space, Vats said, “In India the Hindi market is about 40%, the Regional market is about 34% and Kids entertainment is about 9%.” It simply means that the network is expanding their footprint into the regional space.

ETV which is owned by Prism TV Private Limited will continue to look into the channels and the content that is produced. The network is still under the planning stage of new shows which will help them grab more eyeballs.

There have been certain competitive markets like the Bangla market where Star India’s Star Jalsha completely changed the consumption pattern. Similarly, the network is number one in the Kannada market. Though it has not yet entered the Tamil market, in a media interaction Vats said, “As of now we don’t have any presence but we might look at expanding in the Tamil market.”

Indeed with this rebranding, this media house is looking at attracting newer audiences and also a new set of advertisers, since these channels will also cater to a lot younger set of audiences in their respective regions.

Speaking about the expansion of the COLORS franchise Vats said, “Through its unique shows and voice, COLORS has become the preferred destination for differentiated storytelling in the Hindi mass entertainment channel space. In consonance with this approach to content, the new regional programming line-ups have been evolved to suit the socio-cultural ethos of the respective regional markets. We will bring alive the rebranding of the regional general entertainment channel cluster through enhanced packaging and an integrated marketing approach.”

Sharing insights on the communication approach to socialise the rebranding, Vats indicated that “The revelation of the new brand identity of each of the five regional channels has been staggered across a period of two months starting March 3, 2015. It is scheduled to coincide with regional festivals that mark new beginnings. 360° marketing and communication campaigns encompassing TV, cinema, cable, on-ground, radio, outdoor as well as digital platforms, customised to individual regional markets, will amplify the change.”

While the transition will take place from 22nd March to 19th April, the network intends to introduce each new ‘COLOR’ with their respective festivals that fall in this period Coinciding with the Maharashtrian New Year - Gudi Padva, a high decibel event will unveil the new face of COLORS Marathi, Saaj Nava, Rang Nava. Similar extravaganzas will also celebrate the unveiling of the new brand identities of COLORS Oriya, COLORS Bangla, COLORS Gujarati, and COLORS Kannada.

On asking Ashish Bhasin, Chairman & CEO, South Asia, Dentsu Aegis Network about this rebranding exercise, he said, "First of all what I feel is that ETV which is a regional channel is going to become more and more important going forward. And the second big trend that I see is that, there seems to be a consolidation on the regional channels front. The bigger networks are buying smaller networks and I don't think each genre should have more than three or four players. For instance, in the regional place we have only few branded players like Star and Zee. So I think from their point of view it's a positive step." By Archit Ambekar | Twitter: @aambarchit

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