How Shemaroo pulled off the launch of its channel Shemaroo TV during the lockdown
Hiren Gada, CEO, Shemaroo EntertainmentShemaroo
Launching today, the channel will be available to audiences on all major DTH operators and cable networks

How Shemaroo pulled off the launch of its channel Shemaroo TV during the lockdown

Launching today, the channel will be available to audiences on all major DTH operators and cable networks
  • Shemaroo Entertainment has ventured into the broadcast space with the launch of a Hindi free-to-air GEC, Shemaroo TV.
  • The channel will give the audience a combination of freshly brewed content as well as acquired content that has so far been available only on paid channels.
  • Hiren Gada, CEO, Shemaroo Entertainment speaks to us about how the organization succeeded in launching a TV channel in the midst of the lockdown, and its marketing strategy going ahead.
Shemaroo has managed to pull off a brave feat, it has launched a free-to-air (FTA) general entertainment TV channel, in the midst of a national lockdown, when most players are cutting spends and cancelling or postponing big-ticket launches, events and projects.

Going live today, Shemaroo TV is aimed at catering to the under-served FTA category, giving the audience a combination of freshly brewed content as well as acquired content that has so far been available on paid channels. The launch comes at a time when most of us are stuck at our homes and television viewership is at an all-time high.

Considering the adverse times we are living in right now, we thought it would be interesting to know what went behind Shemaroo’s TV channel launch and Hiren Gada, CEO, Shemaroo Entertainment let us in on their strategy.

Work on the channel launch had started close to 8 months back when the company mapped the ecosystem, exploring the opportunities available. Around October it was decided that they wanted to operate in the FTA space.

The process behind the launch

Earlier this year, Shemaroo also launched its Marathi channel, Marathibana and a lot of learnings from that experience went into the launch of Shemaroo TV, shared Gada. Shemaroo had also simultaneously been working on the content side of things for the Hindi channel.

“Since we started work almost 7-8 months ago, we were in a state of quasi-readiness even before the lockdown. Our content strategy was already in place. However, eventually putting everything together was a huge task and I would like to thank our team who in a way are our warriors who put everything together, in spite of everything. There was a lot of remote working involved around how do we ingest the content, around programming, the channel identity elements and a lot of the technical aspects too. A lot of work happened off-site. But there was a small set of people that managed to be in office for the ingestion of the content, which was the most important link,” shared Gada.

The limitations (and opportunities) of launching during a pandemic

The lockdown has led to the OOH and experiential industry also witnessing a complete shutdown. Spending on the Print medium is also largely muted. And when one has to organize a launch, these are the three primary mediums that organizations rely on.

So how challenging has marketing been for the organization during the lockdown? “Its been both a challenge and an opportunity. We are missing out on a few key media that would ideally have been a part of the launch campaign. However, since people have been indoors, they are spending a substantially higher amount of time on television and digital. That opens up the digital and TV marketing aspects significantly,” explained Gada.

Shemaroo will be largely using these two mediums to connect with audiences, letting them know about the new channel. Gada believes that due to their strong presence on digital, the medium could be their strength. “We will also be running a whole lot of campaigns on various mediums, including social media,” he added.

Looking at the brighter side of the lockdown, Gada also said that this is a time when people are far more open to experimentation and sampling. “During normal times, people are hooked on to their daily soaps and to make people move t a different channel is a challenge. But now, the opportunity to get people to sample a new offering is significantly higher,” he explained.

From the advertiser’s perspective

While the FTA space is driven by advertising, brands at this moment are cutting down on spends. Shemaroo doesn’t have advertisers on board right now but the conversations with marketers have been positive, shared Gada.

“Fundamentally, advertising follows viewership. So it doesn’t matter if you’re a new channel or an already-existing one. There may be some relationships and legacy deals in place but today, TV advertising has become much more scientific. When we mapped the FTA space post the new tariff order, we realized there’s a natural opportunity opening in the space to capture a considerable share of the estimated Rs 2,500 crore FTA advertising market. Also, with leading broadcasters pulling out from Free Dish, Rs 1,000 crore of advertising opportunity opened and was potentially available for existing and new channels in the FTA space. Also, there’s a severe shortage of content in both the Hindi GEC and Marathi market. This means that while the eyeballs and mediums are in place, the vehicle is not there for the advertisers. And this was the sense we got from many of the agencies and brands we spoke to. We understand that in the ultra short-term, there’s a dip in ad spends, but once the lockdown opens, to a reasonable extent, we should be bouncing back reasonably well because ultimately India is a consumer and consumption-based economy where brand-building is very important and TV is the biggest medium to build any brand today,” shared Gada.

Shemaroo’s focus for the next 2-3 months would be to increase consumption and get consumers hooked on to their content. “We believe the monetization is 2-3 months away as we get the entire process of capturing ratings in place. In the meantime, we will build our viewership and get more and more people to sample our channel,” he added.

Launching today, the channel will be available on all major DTH operators and cable networks.