"The Q India is targetting 75 million pay TV homes, regional languages by 2020": Sunder Aaron

  •  November 26,2019 By IndianTelevision Team

MUMBAI: Even as most new media entrepreneurs are going the digital way, The Q India is taking a different approach. The Q India’s first focus is traditional pay TV where it feels this audience is still underserved.

As the completely owned subsidiary of QYOU Media, the channel has been targeting the Hindi speaking audience in the age group of 20-30 years. To address this need gap, not only has it ramped up distribution but is also going to extend the channel with regional languages by 2020.

The Q India co-founder, MD and Locomotive Global Inc (LGI) co-founder and partner Sunder Aaron in an interaction with Indiantelevision.com’s Gargi Sarkar spoke on the network’s content strategy, expansion plans outside India and future goals.

Edited excerpts:

Please elaborate on The Q India’s content strategy and partnership deals.

The Q India was launched a couple years ago, and has become a fully Hindi language channel in the course of the past year. The content strategy is simple: we want to work with the best digital content creators in India who are also social media stars and media influencers, and create a channel that is relevant for young Indians. We've fashioned the channel to appeal directly to Hindi-speaking young Indians, 20-30 years old, who, we feel, are under-served in the Indian pay TV landscape. Of course, The Q India is available across platforms. So while pay TV is our immediate focus, we are also widely distributed on OTT and mobile platforms. These digital platforms are of vital importance to us, and will only grow in value and primacy over time. It may take a few years, so until that time, we are going to make sure that the linear TV channel continues to grow and improve. Since the channel is a Hindi language general entertainment channel, we apply to our FPC some basic principles for programming broadcast channels. As we get more and more info and data about our audience and their viewership patterns, we are able to tweak and refine the programming offering and schedule. We've seen rapid growth in our audience and viewership over the past year, so we seem to be doing something right! 

We have a number of partnerships with leading distribution platforms including Tata Sky and Airtel Digital for Pay TV, and MX Player, Zee 5, Sony LIV, Dish Watcho, and Jio for mobile and OTT. 

We have got terrific content partnerships as well, including with Pocket Aces, Culture Machine, Miss Malini, Nirvana Digital, Arre, Spot Boye and AajTak, to name a few. 

What is the target audience you are looking at?

Young Indians, 20-30 years old. While our flagship channel, The Q India, is Hindi language, we are aiming to launch regional versions of The Q starting in 2020. 

What do you want to achieve by the end of 2019?

We have started distribution of The Q with cable operators, so we hope to cross a reach of 75 million pay TV households as we enter the new year. We have just started our ad sales efforts in earnest, so would also love to start adding some blue chip advertising partners going into 2020. Of course, our expectations and objectives for 2020 are expansive, so finishing 2019 on a high note will give us the platform we need from which we can really take off as a business and brand!

Are you looking at expanding The Q India outside India?

Yes, in fact, our strategy in India for The Q is the same approach that we expect to take as we enter other Asian and European markets. We have been eying local versions of The Q in Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam as well as Germany and the United Kingdom. 

You have partnered with a few OTT platforms. What has been the content consumption trend from the feedback you received from the platforms?

We are still newly-launched on most of our partners' OTT platforms. The early feedback has been positive, and it's clear that we are a good fit, since we share the same target audience as our OTT platform partners.

What are the major challenges right now is the ecosystem which may impact you as well?

It would be great to have an independent ratings service (equivalent to BARC for TV) for digital viewership. Once we have a trusted currency for this space, it will help really grow the market adoption of advertising on digital platforms. While digital advertising continues to grow every year, it's still dominated by Facebook and Google. It will be a challenge but a big step forward when agencies, advertisers and companies begin to widen and diversify their media plans. 

The economy has also been a challenge for advertising-supported businesses. While India is generally fine, the market has been a little slower and festive period less robust than expected. While all the signs seem to indicate that the summer will see a more robust market, we will have to wait and see. 

Meanwhile, marketing costs continue to be high. It's difficult and costly to build a brand in India (especially in the metros). We expect to start investing more resources into brand building and activations (e.g. Q FEST) so that The Q will grow and expand across India's young people. Fortunately, we own a television channel ourselves, which is the best possible vehicle to rely upon to create profile and familiarity for a new brand!