“Humour is the salt of life,” Sri Aurobindo's wisdom is barely debatable. So when Viacom 18 Media Private Limited announced the launch of Comedy Central, an international TV channel dedicated to full time English language comedy in India, we cannot but take notice. The channel which promises to bring to India a mix of genres within comedy has been rapidly spreading its wing beyond the U.S. to Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Hungary, Israel, Poland and other countries. Apparently, they also plan to localise as well to an extend. We asked Ferzad Palia, Senior VP and General Manager English Entertainment with Viacom 18, about the channel and the value proposition it holds for its viewers.
What genre of comedy would Comedy Central proffer to its viewers, what different can they really expect to see on this new channel?
We plan to bring to India the best of comedy all day through. This channel plans to bring a mix of genres within comedy ranging from sitcoms to sketch comedy, British comedy, stand up and gags among others. So you can expect to watch or revisit shows like “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”, “Saturday Night Live”, “30 Rock”, “The Office”, “Seinfeld”, “The Wonder Years”, “That 70's Show” and “South Park”. You see, there are very few comedy channels anyways so this one-stop channel for the world's best in comedy will hopefully have an enthusiastic audience following it. It is like you return from a tired day at work and you know which channel to switch on for relieving the days tiredness and toil!
Would there be reruns of old shows or old seasons of contemporary shows being telecasted right now elsewhere in the world?
Well, in some cases you would see the old seasons of some of the serials being shown from season one. After all there are still large audiences in India who are not acquainted with many of these sitcoms.
We have plans for local content in the pipeline and the final details of which are still being worked out. There is plenty of local talent in India which is eager to delve into comedy genres in English, a language which these guys actually regard as their first language! Also going forward we can provide these artistes even with a platform abroad.
Would this channel prove too niche, being wholly in English language with English subtitles?
We have fairly large English speaking audience base in the country. So the language should not really prove a barrier to the channel's popularity. Also in our stressed out life we do need the relief humour provides.
What would be the format of the channel and how accessible would it be for the viewers?
This channel would have a clean and interactive format with balanced comedy content. Also at the time of launch it would be available to 20 million national households across analog, digital cable and DTH networks.
How do you plan to shape this brand in India?
We intend to build a 360 degree brand, whereby apart from the channel we would extend our visibility through live events, merchandising and availability on mobile platforms. Also an innovative and through the line marketing plan is underway to promote the channel on TV, print, outdoor and radio. Furthermore, there might be some strategic partnerships with stores, café chains, gyms, theatres and other hangouts which are frequented by our target audience.