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After establishing base in India, international channels are consolidating their position by localising content
Late last year, History TV18 was re-launched in India. A third attempt at establishing a viewer base in India, the infotainment channel's officials roped in film star Salman Khan to endorse it. An extensive promotional campaign followed and the Hindi tag line 'Kuch naya dekho (watch something new)' — along with localised programming, packaged to suit Indian viewers — struck a note with the audience.
"With several shows that aired after we launched, such as Ice Road Truckers, we made sure to film the India portion extensively. We packaged our shows to reiterate our message — the content belongs to India," recounts Ritu Kapoor, programming head, A+E Networks, TV18. The third channel in this space to enter the country, the localisation helped History TV18 cut through the clutter and it immediately had at least 40-50 per cent more people switching on to sample its shows. Today, the channel has at least two shows, at all times, with content that revolves around India.
Localisation of content on international channels isn't entirely a new trend. Channel V, MTV and Cartoon Network among a few others did the same and turned into homegrown channels when they launched well over a decade ago in India. However, this has mostly remained limited to music and youth content. Infotainment and lifestyle were largely untouched, with the channels choosing to air international shows and series.
While the first attempt to reach out to a larger audience was made with the dubbing of shows in Hindi, over the last few years, irrespective of the genre, channels have increasingly opted to create and air shows that have a strong India content. For instance, Discovery channel has had Feast India and Rhodes Across India; Animal Planet has aired a 52-week run of India Wild Encounters; and TLC has roped in Indian celebrities to produce Be Blunt with Adhuna Akhtar, the Indian edition of the international franchise What Not To Wear, and so on. Fox Traveller has telecast What's with Indian Women and Freaky Traveller among others. History TV18's Indian Secret Kitchen and The Greatest Indian have also been popular.