A+E Networks | TV18's Avinash Kaul on branded content, investment & growth of infotainment genre

The network will continue to focus on creating original content in the infotainment genre in 2020.

MUMBAI: Producing original shows on issues of contemporary local significance like surgical strikes, national elections, Ganesha festivals, marvels and mysteries of India; that’s how History TV 18 aims to stand out in the niche segment of infotainment channels in India.

“Very consciously we are going towards the direction of original local content because that is what will make our brand stand out in India,” says A+E Networks | TV18 MD and Network18 CEO Avinash Kaul in an interaction with He also spoke on the need for creating original content in infotainment space, challenges faced by the genre, impact of NTO on niche genres, economic slowdown, channel’s growth trajectory and plans for 2020.

Kaul believes that factual and lifestyle channels offer the best branded content options. “Factual entertainment is something which enables all kinds of genres to flow, and all kinds of brand stories to be told. So that's the proposition that we are trying to go with. It is a very robust platform because of its availability in multiple languages. The channel cannot compete with the ratings of GECs but it enables a brand environment where brand story can be beautifully curated. As a branded content it's the perfect way forward because the ratings are far higher than news but are much lower than GECs but the mass reach is still there.”

Speaking on some of branded shows done by the channels, Kaul says, “Our programming and marketing team has over 250 years of experience and have pioneered some of the biggest, tailor-made sponsored initiatives that have set benchmarks across industries. This, combined with our digital presence, might have resulted in several clutter-breaking advertiser-funded projects.”

To mention a few - Hamdard’s One for All a digital-first initiative- stories of people who have contributed towards the betterment of society; Renault presents Ride to Conquer is about four influencers from different walks of life who go on a drive for self-exploration; and Imagine your Korea- an initiative to get more Indians familiar with S Korea as a travel destination.

He further says, “From a ratings standpoint, obviously we are doing very well. FYI TV18 is the number one lifestyle channel in India by a huge margin. It's roughly around 60-65 per cent of the market. It beats even channels like FoodFood and Living Food, TLC Fox Life, Good Times, all of them. So it's fairly strong in the ratings ecosystem. As far as History TV18 is concerned it usually comes in number two after Discovery in the factual entertainment genre, which given the fact that Discovery is in the country for more than 30 years, and beating the likes of NGC and others by itself is remarkable.”

History TV18 has also released unseen differentiated programming in the Indian market. Kaul says that shows like Pawn Stars, Baggage Battle and Storage Wars from international houses resonated well, despite a lot of people having thoughts that it may or may not work as well in India.

The channel also has a show called Forged In Fire which is about people making knives and people making swords, which is a reality show. “Now, that's not something that one would see on a normal channel or any other factual entertainment channel and that's one of the top-rated shows,” he opines.

OMG! Yeh Mera India has two main sponsors Hyundai and Havells. “Even though History TV18 channel was a late entrant in the factual and entertainment genre, we were the early adopters of local content in India. We have OMG! Yeh Mera India Season 6. In three and a half years we have done six seasons. So which means in a year we do more than one season. So that gives you a sense of the amount of response that we get from this show, not only on TV, which is obviously top-rated but also on digital,” informed Kaul.

Due to the current business environment due to NTO, Kaul feels there is certain softness in the market. Because of this, the channel has kept some originals on hold for FYI TV18.

The biggest challenge faced by the genre is investment in original content. In India, the market share of infotainment is very low whereas, in the West, the genre holds the second position after sports. Kaul attributes this to investment in original content. Indian TV channels did not pick up the trend and the late entrants had to begin it, putting more pressure on them. He further says, “If it had been done at the right time, I think the genre would have leapfrogged to a totally different place.”

With regards to content, Kaul said, “The only thing that is well exploited in India is Mythology but not History. So if history could be done, that could really change the entire complexion. Because even if you see the OTT platforms, by the time they come to factual entertainment, it is another three four years as they are first creating mass production, like Sacred Games and other things which are basically something which will smack and people will get used to it. After building those libraries they will invest in these other shows. So I think that journey will take time. Until that time, we are only custodians of making shows like that. We can do it only one show at a time or two shows at a time.”

Revealing the plans for 2020 Kaul says, “The plan is to stay on course. I think this is the time to not get derailed from our plans but to continue building X amount of local content. My opinion is that if we stay on course and if we maintain our business, tightly we will deliver on our business. So that's what the key thing is that we're delivering on our business goals overall, I think we should be able to ride out this rough patch.”

Latest Reads
News channels data blackout could devalue TV ratings as a currency

The news genre relies more heavily on TV ratings than others, argued industry stakeholders during a virtual webinar organised by on Tuesday, highlighting that a major part of their revenues comes from advertising and discontinuation of TV ratings has impacted their ability to...

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
Print beats TV, radio; Twitter most credible digital news medium: Ormax report

Mumbai: Print media continues to lead with a credibility index of 62 per cent, followed by television (55 per cent) and radio (54 per cent). Social media platform Twitter is still the most credible digital medium for news, according to media analytics and consulting firm Ormax Media, which launched...

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
Zee Group expands across South India; launches four regional news channels

Mumbai: Expanding its footprint across South India, Zee Group on Tuesday announced the launch of four digital news channels - Zee Tamil News, Zee Kannada News, Zee Malayalam News and Zee Telugu News to cater to the tech-savvy young viewers in the southern market.

Television TV Channels GECs
TV ad volume soars in 2021, Oct-Dec records highest quarterly growth since 2019: Barc India

Mumbai: The television ad volume recorded significant growth in 2021, beating the previous year’s performance, according to the latest data released by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (Barc). The total ad volume in October-December 2021 was in fact recorded to be the highest during a...

Television TV Channels Viewership
Eurosport India unveils its new look

Mumbai: Discovery Network's television sports channel Eurosport India has unveiled a fresh new look inspired by its mission to ‘Unlock the Power of Sport.’ This distinctive new identity will consolidate the overall look of Eurosport across platforms. Alongside the new visual identity, the brand is...

Television TV Channels Sports
M&E veterans Saurabh Varma, Utpal Acharya launch Content Engineers

Mumbai: Former Jio Studios chief marketing officer Saurabh Varma has joined hands with a former executive from Cinépolis Gulf and Sony Pictures Utpal Acharya to form a content creation studio – Content Engineers. According to a statement, the studio will put $50 million as an initial investment to...

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
Avik Chatterjee appointed as director-emerging sports at Star Sports

Mumbai: Disney Star India has appointed Avik Chatterjee as director-emerging sports at Star Sports, according to his LinkedIn profile. “I’m happy to share that I’m starting a new innings in my career as director - marketing at Star Sports (The Walt Disney Company)!” Chatterjee said in a LinkedIn...

Television TV Channels People
'OMG! Yeh Mera India’ returns with Season 8 on HistoryTV18

HistoryTV18 has launched the eighth season of ‘OMG! Yeh Mera India’, which went on air on Monday at 8 p.m. The new season sees the return of Byju’s as a sponsor and builds upon the legacy of earlier seasons. The ten half-hour episodes of the season will air every Monday, announced the channel.

Television TV Channels Viewership
Sony Sab to premiere ‘Goodnight India’ on 31 Jan

Mumbai: Sony Sab has announced the launch of a special late-night family show "Goodnight India" to help its viewers relax and savour the last 30 minutes of their day with fun-filled performances. Positioned as the 'raatwala family show,’ the show will premiere on 31 January at 10.30 p.m.

Television TV Channels GECs

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories

* indicates required