Niche Toppers take To TV : Sricharan Iyengar, Co-Founder, Greycells 18
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Niche Toppers take To TV : Sricharan Iyengar, Co-Founder, Greycells 18

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Greycells18 india Pvt. Ltd. has launched India’s first curriculum based education TV channel ‘Topper’ which is part of the Topper Integrated Learning System (www.topperlearning.com). Topper initially caters to classes IX to II, and providesvalidated curriculum based content. Greycells18 Media Pvt. Ltd. is a joint venture created by Sunil Khanna (former head DTH,Reliance & CEO, DishTV), and Sricharan Iyengar (former, VP and Business Head ESPN Star Sports). Digital Learning team
talks to them to find more…

What made you choose that the hybrid mix of an older media such as television on a slightly newer platform such as D-T-H?

At the end of the day it has to be a mix of both, it can’t be a show that no one will watch. We were very clear that we are going to use the visual medium as much as possible because the strength of TV is that you can make people see things. Visual items need to be reinforced, outdoor shoots, 3D graphics, laboratory visuals, and similar kinds of things that can be practically demonstrated.

? Are there any plans to handle the cultural and language diversity in India?

We are dubbing content. Probably by the next academic year, we shall have content available in Hindi. As we go along we shall be adding more regional and state languages. We are very clear in our minds that we want to do it in multiple languages.

? What were some of the hurdles that you had to face in the course of content creation?

Quite a few. Actually the biggest thing was that we didn’t have a benchmark. If I am starting a news channel today, I know what NDTV looks like, I know what IBN looks like and I know my channel should look a little better than that. Here there is no benchmark and whatever you’re doing, you’re challenging yourself. If we had another year to generate content, we would have definitely done better. In fact, some of the episodes, we have rewritten eight times, scripted eight times. We have shot a few episodes four times over and junked three of those. It is part of all the learning process, without which you will never reach anywhere.

? Are some subjects easier to handle than others in terms of translation to a visual medium?

Of course, from a TV perspective, Physics and Chemistry are easier than Mathematics because you have those many real-life examples that you can fall back upon. Maths can also be taught in terms of topics such as volume and permutation and combination which comes out beautifully on television but topics such as differentiation and integration, there you definitely have problems.

? How is the website aligned with the content shown on the channel?

We are selling a Topper Integrated Learning System. The idea is to provide an educational service and not to provide a TV channel. By definition, an educational service implies that the kid should learn what you are trying to teach him. Education by definition is interactive but TV by definition is not interactive. When we conceived the product, we knew that just a TV product is not going to work. There had to be a return path for the kid to go back and ask questions if he needs to or take a test if he needs to. We did not launch the TV channel till the website was ready, because both had to be launched simultaneously.

Going forward, I feel this will be a big medium because most kids have mobile phones today. The idea behind the website was to provide that vital interactivity to kids. A kid watches a TV programme and if he has doubts, he can ask questions on the website. He can also look at what questions other kids have asked. He also requires information on what he might have missed out on, so the site also has the schedule laid out. The same programme will be telecast again over a period of time and the student can always schedule what they might have missed out on. We are also planning to put Video On Demand (VOD) content up on the site.

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