Aware of the issues general entertainment channels usually face, Colors, the new general entertainment channel from Viacom 18 (a joint venture between Network 18 and Viacom), has made plans for the second phase of programming even before the scheduled launch date of July 21.

Within the second month of its launch, Colors will introduce new programmes in some of its time-bands. Rajesh Kamat, CEO, Viacom 18, discusses the channel's strategy post July 21 with Ashish Sinha. Excerpts:

Why are you distributing Colors yourself and not through MSM Discovery or STAR-DEN that distributes the Network 18 channels? Are you paying carriage fee?

Doing it ourselves gives us more flexibility in our operations. Our distribution deals are falling in place and we will be seen in over 50 per cent of the cable homes from day one. We will also be present across the existing and the new direct-to-home (DTH) platforms.

Colors will be an encrypted pay channel with a free-to-air window for three to six months. This will allow viewers to sample it. Yes, carriage fee is now part of our marketing plans. We have to be noticed and in that context carriage fee has to be paid to cable operators and DTH players for carrying our channel on the main band.

General entertainment channels launched within the last 10 months are introducing their second phase of shows. What are your plans if some shows do not work?

Not all shows launched initially on any general entertainment channel work. We have planned our next phase of shows.

Typically, a soap needs three to six months for viewers to like it. Other genres can have a much shorter life. I have to plan accordingly. The TRPs are very important to us, therefore we have designed shows keeping in mind a vast section of the viewers.

How do you define a successful general entertainment channel? Why are ratings so crucial?

Any general entertainment channel that gets a gross rating points of 100 or above within 3-6 months of its launch is a success when it comes to negotiating better deals with advertisers. TAM ratings continue to be the currency used by media planners for fixing spot rates.

Which are the shows that will drive viewers?

Getting Akshay Kumar for the desi-version of Fear Factor has worked wonders. Our prime time band will be 7-11 pm of which 7-9 pm will be for the small towns. The 10-11 pm time band will be for the metro viewers. For us, all viewers are important.

What about the response from the advertisers?

I can assure you that we will have all categories. A number of big telecom companies are with us, then there are the FMCG companies, auto companies, banks among others. As the channel picks up, advertisers will follow. Idea Cellular is already on board.
'Self-distribution affords us flexibility'