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Sony BBC Earth might have entered the Indian factual entertainment landscape just a year ago, but it has already come a long way since then. According to Sony BBC Earth, viewership figures for the first quarter of FY18-19 puts the channel at No.1 in the category in Metro cities, with 26% market-share.

“Sony BBC Earth has gone from being No. 8 in the category at launch to No. 1 today, backed by differentiated and innovation-led strategy across brand, content, and marketing. Through consumer research, the channel first identified the need for Indian consumers to reconnect with the natural world. We saw that consumers wanted something else and they landed on channels which show different content but were not informative enough, a gap we filled with Sony BBC Earth,” says Tushar Shah, Business Head, English Cluster, Sony Pictures Networks India.

“Earlier, the category was shifted from infotainment to entertainment by competitors because shows like Naked and Afraid and Pawn Star were ratings-driven and that agenda created a vacuum for infotainment. That’s where we stepped in and decided to fill that need gap. Our content is warm, soft, insightful and extremely premium in nature and hence makes us different from others,” Shah adds.

Shah shares that at Sony BBC Earth, they saw a shift in the category from what it was meant to be when it first started in India 20 years ago. “As the pressure on numbers grew in terms of ratings, channels started moving towards entertainment and I think they left behind a space in the information domain. The category began being one of pure-play infotainment plus entertainment and over a period of time, it started skewing more towards entertainment and masala. That’s the gap we identified before we launched our channel. While our competitors are in the game zone and the entertainment zone, we are into pure factual entertainment. We are not versus wild, we are with the wild. Positive insightful story-telling is the core essence of our brand,” says Shah.

“The internationally acclaimed content ranging from science and nature to wildlife and adventure resulted in the channel becoming the preferred destination amongst the youth and affluent households. In fact, seven out of the top 10 shows in the factual entertainment category are broadcast on Sony BBC Earth- Spy in the Wild, The Hunt, Attenborough’s Big Birds, Rick Stein’s India to name a few,” Shah adds. “Our three pillars are grand visual spectacles, never-seen-before and positive insightful stories. This is the brand promise of Sony BBC Earth.”

Talking about the infotainment category as a whole, Shah believes that the category has more potential to grow. “There is the need for people like us to evangelize or to see how can we grow and create that opportunity going forward. We are bringing back an element of premiumness to information. Being a category leader is not just about delivering tangible viewership numbers but also growing the market in terms of revenue. I think we are taking a lead on that.”

In just one year, the channel has undertaken numerous differentiated and innovative marketing initiatives to make the brand engaging and relevant to the Indian audience. For the first time in the category, Blue Planet II was released in theatres across 22 cities, preceded by the first-ever Blue Carpet Premiere, making it one of the biggest show launches. Sony BBC Earth also roped in celebrity chef Ranveer Brar for its anthology ‘Secrets Behind Food’ where the chef hand-picked three shows from the BBC library that decode the science behind food for viewers.

The channel is now planning to launch some big shows in the next five-six months. There is Rituals, a show about various rituals from around the world, Big Cats that uncovers the secret lives of big cats, using the latest technology to bring these majestic animals out of the shadows, and Last Man Standing where six men take on the challenge of travelling the world and competing against tribes at their sports.

“The differentiation and innovation that we do in both marketing and distribution is the hallmark of how we do our business,” concludes Shah.

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