Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati has big plans for its television channel Doordarshan which will air the Commonwealth Games (CWG) next month in high-definition (HD). DD hopes to increase its revenues by almost 50% this year and has come out with a special DD mascot, also called DD, to promote the broadcast of the Games.
The mascot, which looks like a mechanical insectoid, incorporates the channel’s logo and abbreviated name, and has been designed by ad agency Ogilvy and Mather.
In an interview with FE’s Rahul Sharma, Doordarshan (DD) director-general Aruna Sharma talked about Doordarshan’s competition with private channels and the ad revenues it expects to garner with the telecast of CWG. Edited excerpts.
Is Doordarshan ready for the Commonwealth Games?
DD is fully geared for CWG. The HD signal has already been put into testing. The broadcast compounds are coming up in 18 places and we are almost finishing that. For six places, the production and technical equipment has been shifted and for others, it is in the process of being shifted. We will start the final rehearsal from the fourth week of September, when integrated testing will start off.
Also, I feel this is the time when the private and public sector should come forward to prove that not just cricket, but other sports are also important. We have now various cricket channels, it is time we stand by other sports. And India is winning in these disciplines.
To what extent has the controversies surrounding the CWG impacted the advertiser interest? How much ad revenue do you expect to garner during the Games?
In so far as advertiser interest is concerned, they are responding now. We did have a bit of a problem in between, of people holding back when there was quite a lot of negative news coming in. That did, sort of, put people on the hold. But things have started moving again.
We are confident of getting Rs200-300 crore in ad revenues. Plus, we are selling the ad spots in packages which ensures high visibility for the advertiser. The finals will be telecast on DD National, the complete highlights will be on DD News and regional channels.
DD Sports will be showing the events round the clock. And DD Urdu and Bharati will be also be showing sports events. So when a sponsor comes on board, his brand will be visible be on all four channels, plus regional channels and DD News. Also, we will be having a separate channel, DD HD, which will be showing the games in HD format.
So what happens to this HD channel after the Games are over?
We are already developing content in HD format for DD India. This will be the first feeder for DD HD. Also, we are working on an arrangement with Discovery channel. They have a lot of content in HD. Some of their content coming out of India or focused on India could be used. In addition, we will have the Delhi and Mumbai studios HD-ready withing a year.
What are your plans for the network then? How much revenue do you expect this year?
Lats year we had a record revenue of Rs1000.38 crore. This year we definitely want to reach as close to the operating expenses, which will be around 1300 crore. This year, apart from DD National, we will focus on DD Urdu, Kashir and India. DD Urdu will be coming up with a new form and shape by the end of this calendar year. DD Kashir is all ready to be repackaged and relaunched. For DD India, we have improved it programme by programme. It is an international channel of DD and is the voice of India. Of the 8-hour fresh run, two hours is devoted to news and current affairs. For the rest, it is about programmes showing the best of Indian art, culture and entertainment. We have also done tie-ups in large number of countries, so that DD India is visible there. We are now focusing more and more on consolidating and going to the products which have not been coming to us. We will also be upgrading DD network in the north-east. Also, we plan to complete the digitisation process of our terrestrial network by 2017. That will enable us to add five or six more DD channels.
Has DD lost to the private channels?
No. If you look at TAM ratings, DD has climbed up by 4 percentage points even in the category of cable and satellite (C&S) homes. If you put terrestrial and C&S together, 5 programmes of DD figure in the top 20. This, when we only do 5-6 hours of entertainment programming on DD National. DD News even now has the maximum viewership. Plus, one of the reasons for people not watching DD is the mischief of cable operators who either don’t put DD in prime band or don’t air it at all. If we are not coming out with flashy advertising, it does not mean we are not performing. Last year, we were able to capture 10% of the total TV ad market. Against the total ad market of Rs 8,900 crore we got around Rs 890 crore. We expect this to rise by 10-15% this year.
Source: The Financial Express