BBC launches in India

After sitting on the fence for three years, BBC Worldwide, one of the biggest English entertainment player in the world has decided to launch an India-specific channel. The $1 billion commercial arm of the non-profit British Broadcasting Corporation had added an India entertainment channel to the 41 global ones it already runs.

An interview with Deepak Shourie, a 7-year veteran of Discovery Networks India who took over as BBC’s Worldwide’s India head in July last year:

–What is the intention behind launching the new channel?

We have already been beaming into India through our Asia channel. Besides this, a lot of [English entertainment] channels in India already carry BBC’s programs.

We though this would be the right time to consolidate BBC programs onto our channel.. Being home-ground, we hope to get a higher preference, while programs will continue to be sold to other networks as well.

–You are launching just one channel in India, despite having more than enough content to launch different segmented channels such as reality-based, fiction etc.. Why?

Our research has proven that it’s the same viewer watching these, across channels.. Besides that, it’s three times more expensive. So economically, it doesn’t work out. Cost of distribution and cost of marketing is substantial.. even though the technical expenses involved in putting out three channels would not be.

–Would you say that there is a bubble in the Indian TV market? Aren’t most of the channels surviving on carriage fee and poorly produced shows doomed to failure?

A lot of these channels are news channels. They are not necessarily there for commercial reasons, they come on because someone wants a political voice and so on.. They don’t make profits.

I think it may not last, because finally, if you don’t have viewers, you are not going to compete. To have viewers, you need to have clear-cut definition of what you want.