While there is no dearth of Hindi general entertainment channels (GECs) in India, there is one channel in this category that offers content with a twist.
The twist is that the content is coming from digital creators or as we call them influencers.
The Q which was launched in 2017 and started its journey on Tata Sky, a direct broadcast satellite service provider, offers digital content which includes shows like Kya Bolta Insta, Traveling Mondays, among others.
To increase its reach, the channel is now available on DD Free Dish for which The Q paid Rs 16.5 crore. While getting on DD Free Dish has been an expensive affair, Sunder Aaron, Co-Founder and MD, pointed out why this move was important for the channel.
"DD Free Dish will give us a reach of 40 million households." Adding to this Krishna Menon, COO, The Q, said, "We went live on Dish TV couple of days back which gives us a reach of 12.5 million household. Overall, in the last couple of weeks our reach has increased to 52.5 million and on the whole we now have a reach of about 100 million households."
But the journey has not been easy for The Q.
"When we started off with Tata Sky in 2017 advertisers were not keen to advertise because The Q wasn't BARC rated. We were stuck for a long time. We needed BARC ratings to justify media buying. We wanted to make it a relevant channel for India so we took a satellite segment and that qualified us for BARC. Beginning of 2020 we started getting BARC ratings but then COVID-19 happened," said Aaron.
While COVID-19 did put a break on some of the plans, The Q did see traction amid the TV audience.
"We grew abt 400 percent but the growth is on a smaller base. Yet, the rating is close to what channels like Zoom, Bindaas, MTV have. However, we are nowhere near Star Utsav or one of the major giants. And our ambition is to have ratings like Star Utsav. Also, The Q's growth has been sizeable on limited distribution. Our distribution is 40 percent of channels like MTV," said Aaron.
Along with the strong reach, Aaron said that by being on DD Free Dish "we will see our (The Q's) ratings go up and our revenues will go up as a result. And then we will have cash flow and we can market the channel."
While DD Free Dish will be a gamechanger for The Q, according to both Aaron and Menon, they are also betting on their content strategy.
"We are Hindi GEC for young Indians and our target group is 15-30 years. This year, we will be doing half a dozen original series. Plus, we have done a deal where we will be acquiring 150 hours of animated content over the course of next year," said Aaron. Animated content for the youth is finding strong traction on the channel which is why Aaron said that they will be adding more such shows on The Q.
What is interesting is that one can watch all the shows available on The Q not only on TV but also on over the top (OTT) platforms like ZEE5, on connected TVs and even on short video sharing platforms like Chingari.
This is why both Aaron and Menon are confident about finding more traction amid advertisers.
In addition to the digital reach, The Q is also planning to go regional.
"Our intent has been to create versions of The Q Tamil and other genres like The Q gaming. We would have done The Q Tamil and Telugu in 2020 but then COVID-19 happened but we will do it this year."