Mass Media no longer includes just entertainment and news and is now establishing its presence in niche sectors like education, lifestyle and real estate. Why? Starting a niche channel involves lower cost of operations compared to a news and entertainment channel. And, targeting a specific audience and advertisors allows the channel to break even faster.
Following this trend is Topper -- a 24x7 education channel that was launched Sunday -- joining the ranks of other niche channels like NDTV Good Times and Real Estate TV. Media analysts say that a niche channel needs about Rs 30-35 crore as cost of operations in the first year and its specific target advertisors enables it to break even faster.
Media consultant Sanjay Salil, Managing Director, Mediaguru, said: “The cost of operations is dramatically low for niche channels as the infrastructure required is not as what is required by a news channel. National news channels do not break even before three years of their operations. For regional channels, the time limit is two years. So, it does make business sense to launch a niche channel.”
Topper follows the same strategy. It will primarily focus on the Central Board of Secondary Examination (CBSE) curriculum for Classes 9-12. With test signals slated to begin on Monday and the new channel would go on air from the middle of this week. The channel will initially be available free on direct-to-home platforms like Tata Sky and Dish TV.
Promoted by Greycells 18 Media Private Limited, Topper is a joint venture created by Sunil Khanna, former chief executive officer, Dish TV, Sricharan Iyengar, former vice-president and business head ESPN Star Sports, Network 18 and Educomp. Initially, the content at the secondary level (Classes 9-10) will be for science and mathematics and at the senior level (Classes 11-12) for physics, chemistry and mathematics. The content will be accessible in different mediums like television and internet.
Sunil Khanna, one of its promoters, “A curriculum based learning system, students can also take tests online – at www.topperlearning.com – after watching the lessons on television. The portal will also provide an expert panel help desk to students to get answers to their queries. The objective is to enable the student to do well in his exams."
Topper is not the only one to introduce educational programmes on television, though the first to focus on the CBSE. Doordarshan's Gyan Darshan and Vyas, both 24-hour education networks, were launched a couple of years ago but have low viewerships. Zed TV, the only attempt made by private players in the space, is no longer on air.