A lot more categories are now willing to advertise on FTA channels to reach out to rural India: Hiren Gada, Shemaroo
Hiren Gada, CEO, Shemaroo Entertainment
Shemaroo TV launches a series titled 'Jurm aur Jazbaat'

A lot more categories are now willing to advertise on FTA channels to reach out to rural India: Hiren Gada, Shemaroo

Shemaroo TV launches a series titled 'Jurm aur Jazbaat'
  • Shemaroo TV, the flagship Hindi GEC from the house of Shemaroo Entertainment, is launching an original TV show titled ‘Jurm aur Jazbaat.’
  • We caught up with Hiren Gada, CEO, Shemaroo Entertainment to understand how it was all put together, walked us through the channel's journey so far and future of FTA channels in India.
Shemaroo Entertainment launched a Free-to-Air (FTA) channel last year in the midst of the lockdown, when businesses were coming to a standstill. A company that has effectively adopted to technological changes and macro economic disruptions since the early 1970s, Shemaroo has been smoothly sailing through all waves of changes. As the lockdown eased and the country slowly started limping towards normalcy, Shemaroo TV was burning the midnight oil to put together an original series for its audience. Now, it is all set to foray into original TV series with a crime show titled ‘Jurm aur Jazbaat.’

The general entertainment content on Hindi TV channels largely revolves around domestic issues, mythology, historical personalities or desi love stories. OTT audiences, on the other hand, are a fan of thriller films, sci-fi or crime shows. However, Shemaroo has taken the OTT route for its TV channel with the launch of its first crime-based TV show. In the recent past, even courtroom sagas have become a huge hit on OTT platforms: Criminal Justice: Behind Closed Doors, Nail Polish, Illegal season 1, Your Honour and The Verdict – State vs Nanavati (2019) are proof.

On why the TV channel chose crime as its debut genre, Hiren Gada, CEO, Shemaroo Entertainment, said, “We did a market research to identify what is trending, what are the consumers watching, what they aren't, etc. So we finalised various categories to work with. After deep-diving into the market research we conducted, we realised that the crime genre has a very good connect with the Free-To-Air audiences. What also strongly came out was the fact that there is emotion behind every crime. So, to simplify the name, we called it Jurm aur Jazbaat. Once we decided the route we wanted to take, we worked with a couple of production houses in terms of creating pilots, ramping up and then going into the production part. Parallely, because this was our first fresh and original programming, we wanted to have a very strong mentor, who can connect with the audience, create a great viewing experience for them and that's how we zeroed in on Ronit Roy.”

Journey so far

Since the inception of Shemaroo TV last year, the channel wanted to offer a mix of original content, licensed content and existing content. However, due to the nation-wide lockdown, the channel had to put a pause on its production like everyone else. It did not stop the entertainment house from launching a new channel. It wanted to lay a strong foundation before launching its original content.

“We had to revamp our whole process for two reasons. One was logistically, we were not in a position to shoot at that time. And secondly, advertisers' spends had also reduced. So, we decided at that time to focus on our existing library as well as fresh creations and acquired shows from Star like Devon ke Dev Mahadev, Jeet hui parai, Shor from Sahara, and we had our own movies and shows. The focus at that time was to establish the channel in terms of viewership, distribution, primarily marketing, viewership, programming, consumer connect. Many other things and milestones which we wanted to achieve before we launch an original,” shared Gada.

Present and future of FTA channels in India

Currently, as per Gada, not more than two FTA channels are creating original content and Jurm aur Jazbaat will help the channel carve a niche for itself.

While Shemaroo had also launched its Marathi channel, MarathiBana and a lot of learnings from that experience went into the launch of Shemaroo TV, the latter was rolled out while working from home. It launched unique initiatives to pull in more viewers.

Overwhelmed with the response the channel has seen so far, Gada said, “Given the fact that we are a GEC less than nine months old, we have seen very good response and viewer traction. In fact, we've done many contests where we could gauge consumer participation. We received a lot of very good messages from our audiences and they showered us with love. That has helped build the overall viewership. And obviously, the team's hard work has paid off too.”

It has also seen a good response from the top FTA advertisers.

“I'm sure that a very strong connect with the core Shemaroo brand and being part of this ecosystem for decades, has played its strong part as a strong beautiful partner, given the challenge that overall advertiser revenue and spends have gone through, in the last year. We are part of that same trend but the fact that we have seen very good acceptance borne out by the fact that all the top spenders on the FTA space, most of them are already present on both our channels. We keep adding more brands and new categories as we move forward,” added Gada.

This year, with the economy coming back on track, Shemaroo is expecting to see more advertisers on-board who cater to rural and Tier II and III audiences.

Gada said, “With the economy back on track, and companies launching more and more products, good agriculture output with a good monsoon, the rural economy has done exceedingly well. With this, a lot more categories are now willing to participate on the FTA platform, because they are all seeing more consumption coming from these pockets. Over the next few years, as per capita income of the country grows, more and more categories of consumption will open up for these audiences. That will bring in many more categories into the FTA space. And I think that’s really the exciting part in the next three to five years. This is a segment which has been underserved as far as television is concerned and as far as products are concerned. In the next three to five years, this situation is bound to get corrected.”

After measuring the response of its fresh content, Shemaroo is planning to launch more original content and simultaneously, keep acquiring popular series and films to be able to cater to a large audience.

Sharing his plan for this year, Gada said, “We are going to take it one step at a time. We definitely have more originals lined up. The fact is that there's just two channels, which are offering fresh programming or original content. We are upping the game for ourselves at a certain level and that's going to be a continuous process for us, because that's how we plan to keep up our audiences loyal to us and keep coming back to us as we keep launching new offers for our viewers.”