In an interview with exchange4media, Swati Mohan, Business Head, National Geographic & Fox Network Group, spoke about their future plans, making an entry into the digital medium, content consumption and more. Excerpts:
People these days are more interested in real life content as compared to fiction. Do you think this trend will continue to grow?
The whole genre of National Geographic is all about real life stories. If you look at the journey of 129 years, it’s a story telling brand. We tell stories through magazines, books and television. Incidentally, even our book business is the number 1 non-fiction book for kids across the world. With the passage of time, consumers are evolving and it is important for us if someone is getting an experience with our brand. National Geographic is an experience and a delight for people who love to know about the real world and we have very special kinds of consumers, readers and viewers who love to be around us and I hope this base will continue to grow.
What about regional content? Are you focusing on producing regional content as per interest of viewers?
The channel itself has dubbed in four languages, our content is globally relevant and that is being delivered in different languages which people can choose to watch. I will give you an example- when we launched our first mega kitchen it was about the Akshay Patra which is in the south of the country. When we did Tirupati, it was again in the south of the country. The topics which we choose are the best stories that have dimensions that we can offer to the world, we don’t cater to just a state. Tirupati, which we aired in March this year, is the highest rated infotainment show ever and it surpassed three times the last record and the ratings were not just from south but all over the country. If you look globally, Mars was the highest infotainment show and what triggers the relevance is that it talks about people and their interplanetary inevitably.
We want people to be educated and empowered by this knowledge that matters to the world at large.
According to you, how has the market evolved in the past few years?
I think a lot of the consumers needs have changed. We have seen a lot of consumption happening which excites you as well and we have 800 channels globally to reach out to viewers. The power and purpose of your brand makes you different, 27% of our proceeds goes back to the National Geographic Society to fuel conservation and education.
With so many channels in India, what makes you stand apart from competitors?
As I said, classifications or infotainment in the channel universe has been there for some time and we are absolutely infotainment, there is no doubt in that but beyond that we are an iconic brand across the world. We are not just a channel, but an institution of knowledge and learning and that’s where we come from. A rating would not do justice to this brand.
Star and Viacom18 are pushing too much on digital. What is Fox India’s plan?
Star is our sister company, anything we do in terms of space is always in collaboration with them. In fact, we are doing discussions on digital. In sometime our content will be on Hotstar. We do have a digital strategy and very soon you will be hearing about it.
What are the plans of Fox India for 2018?
Our year has just begun and we have a great line-up of content which you will see soon. It has been a magnificent start for us. Recently, we had an Earth live which was simulcast live in 28 countries. So, live events are also happening on National Geographic, global premiers are happening and we will continue with this kind of strategy and love to be echoed in India as well.