In January, Colors will be celebrating one year of existence in the UK, soBizAsia.co.ukcaught up with Colors’ Head – International Business and Chief Commercial Officer, Gaurav Gandhi to find out how the first year has been and what’s on the way.

As the Head of International Business, Gaurav is in charge of expanding growth avenues and establishing Viacom18۪s footprint outside India. After the exponential growth of Colors in India, he is now focused on making the channel a leader in the International market.

As the Chief Commercial Officer, Gaurav heads the cost and commercial functions across the group, ensuring synergies between the network۪s businesses. He reports to Rajesh Kamat, Group COO – Viacom18 and CEO – Colors.

Colors has been available in the UK market for nearly a year, how has this been journey been for you?

Colors has had a very positive response in the UK. We launched in January-end with a two month free view period to make UK viewers sample our content. From the date of going pay (end April) and joining the View Asia bouquet, the pack has grown by 30% – and this growth can be largely attributed to the entry of COLORS in the bouquet. Additionally, Colors has also had a fairly sizeable A-la-carte base in the last 6 months.

How do you think Colors۪ UK launch has impacted (if any) your rivals such as Star TV, ZEE Network, Imagine…Dil Se, etc?

Colors has made substantial gains in the subscription market and this is demonstrated by the growth in the View Asia numbers. Our advertising revenues too are climbing steadily. The market overall has not seen much growth, so our sense is that a sizeable portion of our gains would be at the cost of some our competitors.

Have there been any shows you can say that may not have done so well in the UK that are doing superbly well in India? Or vice versa?

All our Marquis drama series as well as the big ticket reality shows have been a equally big draw in the UK market (as they are in India).

Your blockbuster movies have certainly been a unique selling point of Colors, can we continue to expect World Television Premieres from the channel?

Colors has been known for bringing the biggest blockbusters to TV screens and that too within weeks of their release. Over the last few months we have aired films like Dabbang, Once Upon a Time in Mumbai, Khatta Meetha, Aisha among many others. Soon we will be airing the superhit comedy Golmaal 3. In addition to that we have acquired a whole range of upcoming big blockbusters like Tees Maar Khan, Patiala house and No One Killed Jessica among others. So, our viewers will continue to get the best of Bollywood on Colors in the months to come.

There are plans to launch a movies dedicated channel in India from , will this also be heading to UK shores next year?

Having established Colors as one of the frontrunners in the GEC category, we۪re now exploring other options in the mass entertainment categories, and movie channel is one of them.

With Colors being a part of the VIEWASIA package for nearly a year, has the experience been as initially expected or has it been a rocky one?

Colors has been a part of the View Asia pay bouquet since end April and since COLORS۪ entry the 8 channel bouquet has seen a 30% growth. So, clearly Colors entry in the View Asia bouquet has worked.

Channels like Imagine…Dil Se and Star TV in the UK have shown that being free-to-air and being on the Sky package respectively are sustainable. Do you think if Colors had chosen to remain a free service in the UK, the channel would have done better than what it is doing thus far?

We firmly believe that the successful business model for key Diaspora markets (like USA & US) is a combination of subscription and advertising revenues. For such markets, Subscription revenues tend to be larger contributors (than advertising revenues) and also tend to be more steady. Going Free to air may result in slightly higher short terms ad sales revenues, but will never be able to match up to the lost opportunity (and revenues) of subscription. Our subscription growth has helped us notch fairly healthy numbers in year 1 and we are on track for our desired business goals in the market.

Whilst shows like Bigg Boss۪ and Fear Factor۪ have an international connect with viewers, they are A. Expensive to produce and B. Have come under fire from the government for their adult content. How difficult is the position you are in as a broadcaster?

Bigg Boss and Fear Factor have been our lead reality/non-fiction shows since launch of Colors in 2008. No doubt that these are expensive productions, however with the kind of consumer pull and viewership these properties get, the advertiser response and support (in India as well as overseas markets for Colors) makes these mega properties completely viable and profitable.

With ‘Bigg Boss’ ending in January, what new shows have you got lined up to take over the 21:00 22:00 band?

We will be announcing our line-up for slots shortly.

How do you plan to bolster the business of Colors in the UK next year?

Over the next 12 months we are focusing on the following:

ۢ Expand reach : we would target expanding Colors footprint by making the channel available on Cable as well.

ۢ Increase Consumer engagement: This will be done at 2 levels 1) with making the UK audience participate in some of our big upcoming talent shows and 2) increase ground connect by doing a lot more interactive marketing programs on ground (including partnering with several local events). We are putting some of these plans into action with Immediate effect example – we are starting with CDD auditions in London in December itself (along with other International cities in US and UAE).

Final words…

Ans. UK remains a Priority 1 overseas market for Colors. Our aim for the market is for Colors to be among the top 2 Hindi GECs in UK in the next 12-18 months.