Headquartered in the UK, Travel Channel (TC) – operated by independent company Travel Channel International, transmits 24 hours a day to more than 115 countries, in 20 languages across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia-Pacifi c. Setting itself apart from other lifestyle channels, TC focuses purely on the joys of travel and all the food, customs and cultures a traveller will uncover along the way. Programmes transport viewers on backpacking adventures, culinary quests, ecofriendly holidays and exclusive luxury getaways to places known, and not so known. Ritchie, director of business development said, “We don’t have programmes on fashion, music or cooking with a bit of travel thrown in. Everything is in relation to travel – whether it features food and drink, it’s all part of the journey and what you can experience and do while at a certain destination. “And the way we do it is not your classical deadpan observational approach. We make programmes with a lot of character through the eyes of our different presenters,” Ritchie added. While being a source of entertainment, TC’s programmes also provide practical advice in selecting and planning real holidays, such as when and where to go and festivals and events that shouldn’t be left off an itinerary. Also featured are the different ways and means a traveller can get from A to B. “We use local talent, or those who know the region to share their experiences – this is central to TC’s theme, says Ellis, SVP Affi liate Sales and Marketing and COO. “We then export this talent and programmes to our other markets, which we can do easily because we have exclusive rights to the content.” At present, TC commissions about 35 per cent of its programmes, another 30 per cent is done inhouse, while the rest is made up of exclusive acquisitions. The channel is aiming to increase the number of commissioned series as its footprint grows in Asia. The New Zealand experiment In May 2010, TC launched its fi rst full channel in the Asia-Pacifi c on pay-TV operator Sky New Zealand. As in Germany and Poland, a specifi c channel was created for the market and TC has seen steady growth in viewership. It is reaching about 700,000 kiwi homes at present. “We saw there was a strong affi nity between the audience in New Zealand and the original content being aired on Travel Channel,” said Ritchie. “It’s a market with a relatively small number of channels so it was a major triumph for us.” Using Playbox technology, TC operates, schedules and updates the New Zealand channel remotely from the UK. This allows for complete customization of the channel. Ritchie said this means of channel management will also benefi t its viewers and operators as TC targets other Asia-Pacifi c markets. Using its pan-regional feed out of Hong Kong, TC is now available in Malaysia on TM Net’s Hypp IPTV platform. It is also on IPTV platforms in Japan on Kona and on Sri Lanka Telecom. In India, TC reaches more than 20 million homes in a branded programming block on the ET Now channel and a branded HD block in South Korea’s Korea HD Broadcasting, reaching about 2 million homes. Spreading its wings, TC is currently confi rming a deal to play on Thailand’s new Ving broadband TV service and later this year is aiming to launch the HD channel in Taiwan. Ritchie said they are also fi nalising a deal with FetchTV, an HD IPTV network launched in Australia last year. A similar carriage deal has also been confi rmed for Mediacorp’s new Over-The-Top service, which debuts in the second half of this year. With the number of launches and deals in the region, TC is looking to expand its content made for the Asia market; this includes programmes produced here and also featuring Asia-based talent. Said Ellis, “Asia is a younger market, it’s booming economically and we have a great opportunity to introduce specifi c content there.” Beauty shots Keeping up with industry trends, TC launched Travel Channel HD last year. “As soon as HD came about we set in place standards to buy and produce true HD content. This has allowed us to build up a large library of HD content,” said Ritchie. And to cope with the demands of more HD content, TC worked with GlobeCast to migrate its feed to the MEASAT-3 service earlier this year. Feedback since has been positive with a number of broadcasters astounded by the quality of Standard Defi nition programmes also. “Some can’t tell the difference between SD and HD,” said Ritchie. “This is great to hear but we really are pro-HD and soon want to only broadcast at this quality.” Key programmes that show this off include the World’s Greatest Motorcycle Rides series, which has presenter Henry Cole exploring destinations like New Zealand and the Isle of Man from two wheels, and Great Scenic Railways that explores picturesque landscapes and locales from the wide window of a train carriage. Other popular series include Flavours Of, with presenter Charlie Ottley, who explores the heritage and cuisine of some of the world’s most beautiful and fascinating countries and Indian Times, which sees New Zealand presenter Julian Hanton travelling the length and breadth of this populous nation that includes a fearful driving lesson on the frenzied streets of Bangalore, taking up naked wrestling and igniting his taste buds while eating the world’s hottest chilli. “Our presenters are going to the other ends of the planet and really looking at life from a traveller’s perspective – first time experiences and reactions,” said Ritchie. “That really is what travel is all about.” TVAplus Check out TC’s content at OnScreenAsia.com’s video channel