New Delhi: Given India’s Raj connection and the country’s obsession with weddings—a booming Rs 1 trillion industry—TLC in India, the lifestyle channel from Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, is gearing up for live coverage of Britain’s royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton. TLC is the travel and lifestyle channel of US-based Discovery Communications Inc.
Almost six months ago, TLC, USA, had asked ITV, a New York-based production and distribution company, to cover the royal wedding live for the channel as well as create special programming around it.
In India, the four-hour ceremony will be telecast on 29 April at 2.30pm to reach 30 million TLC homes. India has a total 120 million cable and satellite homes.
Sponsors have been quick to sign up for the telecast. Among them are Volkswagen India, skincare brand Pond’s from Hindustan Unilever Ltd, Nestlé India and jewellery brand Tanishq. Discovery Networks’ Asia-Pacific spokesperson confirmed the names of the sponsors, although Tanishq refused to comment.
Other brands such as Cadbury India Ltd, Raymond Ltd, Nokia, L’Oreal India Pvt. Ltd, Lotus Herbal and travel portal Makemytrip have stepped in and blocked 10-second advertising spots. Media planners at different agencies say that sponsors are forking out Rs 20-25 lakh, while a 10-second spot costs Rs 11,000-15,000, up from the average Rs 1,600-1,800 that the channel commands.
This isn’t the first time TLC is leveraging India’s immense interest in weddings nor is it the only channel to do so. In 2006, TLC telecast UK businessman and celebrity Vikram Chatwal’s wedding with Priya Sachdev. That’s not all, India’s general entertainment channels (GECs) are replete with reality wedding shows; about half a dozen have been telecast in the last two-three years. Shaadi 3 Crore Ki was the last one on Imagine, a channel run by Turner General Entertainment Networks India Ltd, which has made wedding-based shows a highlight.
Nikhil Madhok, head of marketing and communications at Imagine TV, said: “Indians cannot have enough of weddings, especially on television.”
TLC, for instance, will offer not just live coverage of the wedding, but also telecast one-hour special shows in the run-up to the event. Programmes around other members of the royal family, including Prince Harry, Prince Charles and his late wife Diana, will be shown. Dress designers, celebrity bakers and photographers involved directly with the wedding will be interviewed.
Clearly, advertisers are keen on partnering such programmes. “To be associated with such an event is a great fit for Volkswagen because it’s a premium property,” said Neeraj Garg, director, Volkswagen passenger cars division at Volkswagen group sales India. Nestlé and Makemytrip.com also confirmed their presence on the show. “It’s a prime property and we are happy to be associated with the show,” confirmed Mohit Gupta, chief marketing officer at Makemytrip.com.
Rahul Johri, senior vice-president and general manager (India) at Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, said: “It’s not an ordinary wedding and we’ll also have repeat telecasts to continue the audience-pull.” The channel has decided to repeat the telecast the next evening at 6.30pm and show an edited version on Sunday, 1 May.
Mona Jain, chief operating officer of VivaKi Exchange, the media buying agency for Publicis Groupe SA, thinks audiences will flock to the channel. “Those who don’t watch TLC regularly will also watch the event,” she said. Shows in the build-up to the wedding could be a key differentiator. “For brands, there’s bound to be what we call, ‘premium rub-off’,” said Jain.
Although lifestyle channels are suited only for specific brands, selling advertising inventory as a package across shows around the event could make a difference. Johri confirmed that co-sponsors will get commercial space both on the main event as well as programming created around it.