The Q's client list has grown 6 times since its launch on DD Free Dish: CEO Simran Hoon

Hoon talks about what DD Free Dish brings to The Q, beyond numbers

Mumbai: Since its launch in December 2017, growing the channel’s distribution has been a top priority for The Q. Realising the potential of small-town India for which television is still either the only or main source of entertainment, the media start-up hopped on to DD Free Dish in March-April and the numbers thereafter are a testimony to the plan’s success.

Earlier this year, the Company issued a statement declaring that it has “reached its 2021 goal of distribution to 100 Million TV Households as a result of launching on both DD Free Dish and Dish TV in April. The Q India has gone live to 50 million additional TV homes in the month of April.”

As regards GRPs – the vital metric used to project revenue growth – The Q recorded the highest-ever GRP of 53 in Barc Week 21 (June) in addition to an eight-week average of 46.23, indicating it’s heading into the big league of channels. Buoyed by the growth the ‘start-up’ is gradually expanding into a full-fledged network. It has also ventured into content production with the first TV original ‘Jurm Ka Chehra’ launching in September.  

While the figures speak for themselves, decided to decode the recent developments on the creative, business, and organisational front in a candid interaction with The Q CEO- Simran Hoon who joined the Company in April. With over two decades of experience in the industry having worked for leading brands including Viacom18, ZEEL, STAR, and SET, Hoon is responsible for driving The Q’s overall growth and vision. The marathoner and animal lover CEO charts the brand’s trajectory post coming on to DD Free Dish.

Programming for a Changing Audience

From VOD to DTH and now DD Free Dish, the path trodden by The Q has been quite unlike any other in the Hindi GEC space. Yet, says Hoon the “journey became more interesting April onwards, since launching on DD Free Dish.” Previously, the channel’s programming was targeted at an urban audience, but with the footprint expanding into the hinterland, the content evolved into a more massy and family-inclusive tone. “The moment we came on to DD Free Dish we had to address the big households in Tier 1 and 2 towns without antagonising the urban viewer who obviously has a lot in common with the smaller towns; the differentiation is more pronounced in the minds of the marketers.”

The change has translated into a preponderance of shows such as ‘Yo-Yo Yogesh’ and ‘Baklol’ over the likes of ‘Tantra by Vikram Bhatt’ and ‘Living in Trends’ (LIT) in the content mix.

Through all the experimenting with family-oriented shows and now with content production, the channel has been able to successfully uphold its brand ethos of ‘Zara Hat Ke’ and having a ‘social element’ in all its programming. While other players in the FTA space are running repeat content consisting mostly of family dramas that are over a year old, The Q has no plans of going the ‘saas-bahu way’ which according to Hoon is suited for an older audience. “Though finally family-inclusive, we have stuck to our core TG of 15 to 35-year-olds and the promise of offering them more fun, differentiated and easy kind of programming. Our content is carefully curated to suit all age groups,” she shares adding that comedy is a big genre on the channel now.

Since its launch as an independent advertiser and influencer-marketing-supported Hindi youth entertainment channel, The Q has been redefining TV to mean ‘social’ by delivering digital programming to the medium. For the unorthodox FTA player, the description of ‘Connected TV’ entails not just a connection to the internet, but to the network of people as well. Going forward, even as the Company steps up original production, it will ensure a social connect for all its content. Sharing an example, Hoon reveals, “The casting for our upcoming crime show ‘Jurm Ka Chehra’ was done on ‘Chingari’ (the short video app). In the future, the audience will see a lot of stuff where we bring social to TV.”

The Advertising Windfall

Hoon shares that as a brand offering fresh (on TV) content, The Q has not faced the problem of discounted ad rates like other FTA players, and now, with the steady growth in viewership post launching on DD Free Dish, there has been an increase in advertiser onboarding, awareness and acceptance of the channel.

From around five clients in the first quarter of CY 2021, the numbers have grown six times to include 30 advertisers in the current list. “The mainstay of the FTA channels is FMCG, but we have a lot more e-commerce, pharma, and digital payment companies coming in, even as our client list continues to grow further,” shares Hoon.

In order to service the increasing demand, the Company hired Ashish Kotekar as head of ad sales for South & West regions in May, and Pankaj Rai for North & East in August. The channel also has plans to go regional, but for now, the focus will be on the HSM.

Recently, The Q and Chtrbox (an influencer marketing platform acquired by The Q in June) announced the launch of an integrated marketing platform BharatBox which will deliver integrated advertising solutions across linear and digital platforms to marketers, thus maintaining the channel’s ‘social DNA’ even on the business front. “It’s a unique proposition where we will be offering to brands integrated advertising solutions that synergise the reach of social media influencers with The Q’s TV reach.  BharatBox will reach out to tier 2 and 3 towns,” Hoon elaborates.


Moving ahead from content and business, The Q has a lot of action happening on the organisational front as well. In addition to Krishna Menon’s elevation as the COO in May, and the new hires for ad sales, the Company appointed Sujata Samant as head of marketing this month. It is pertinent to note here that The Q has not launched any extensive marketing campaigns till now. Further, a distribution consultant and HR head were brought on board recently.

Hoon credits Tanya Shukla, the programming head, for bringing the brand to where it stands today in that context. Shukla has been in the role for a year now. Giving an understanding of the Company’s overall vision, Hoon remarks, “We are in the process of maturing from a small operating company, a start-up that we still are, to a full-fledged organisation. More people are starting off in different roles and departments even as we speak right now. The recognition that The Q has got has been a little overwhelming for us, but with the right elements in place, we are ready to be seen as a ‘network for the future.”

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