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Rewind 2012: The Big Bang Theory of Indian media biz

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Rewind 2012: The Big Bang Theory of Indian media biz

Have been contributing to Rewind for a while now, and mostly have not quite figured out the brief. The title is pretty straightforward, but often I‘m asked to comment on the upcoming year too! I usually just take the brief and then write whatever I feel like. This year, there’s an added twist -- a sitcom/daily soap theme. I watch a lot of American TV shows, but they almost entirely fall in the detective shows genre, and I really cannot see much of a connection with our media landscape. But hopefully I will introduce some of you to a couple of interesting TV shows.

At an overall level, the year was quite similar to one of my top TV show recommendation for 2012 – Person of Interest. Each episode keeps us guessing whether the person of interest is a likely victim or perpetrator. Less dramatic the year for us, but it sure did keep us guessing. There was no overall southward trend in spending pattern, a bit of mixed signals though. And while the climate did not appear optimistic, surprisingly channels were still returning un-serviced ROs (release orders). While clients kept us guessing with a will-they-won’t-they spend, the government kept us guessing with will-they-won’t-they pull the plug on cable. And once decided, we were left guessing the outcome because ratings were on a break! On the agency front too, after keeping us guessing for a bit, we are entering 2013 with big changes at the helm of a couple of agency networks.

The news genre this year was a bit like 2 Broke Girls. Those who know the show may hopefully get the analogy (stretched as it may be) as I will not be going into the details. Having seen the ups and down, the genre appears to be working together to protect a collective interest. The year 2013 will bring more challenges and changes to this genre.

No year-end recap is complete without a comment on digital. The medium is beginning to remind me of my current favourite show Blue Bloods. Each character so different and unique and still if we were to sum it up, the show is (simply put) about a family of cops. Each member contributes very differently but they solve crimes working in tandem. Just like digital today. Each platform is unique and significant in its own way (mobile, social, video, etc.) and yet they operate under one common medium – digital. Don’t see this for long though, as the medium is entering our mix in more dramatic ways than many expected and each platform is gaining enough critical mass of spend to not be clubbed under one. And they need not work in tandem to deliver an overall engaging experience. In 2013 there will be much jostling for a share of the media pie and someone’s going to have to make room.

The obvious one could be print, but it’s not that obvious always. If nerdy scientist on The Big Bang Theory can make it as a top rated comedy show then logic always does not hold true. But with news available so seamlessly and effectively across devices, one does wonder what the attraction of print is, particularly to the younger audiences. The medium may still be sustainable, the cost it operates at will not.

And as the year comes to a close, it’s not so Elementary as Sherlock Holmes would like Watson to believe. Just as this TV show is a modern take on an old classic of the mystery solving genre; DAS is kind of similar -- old content in a new format (distribution). Clearly, the first few weeks of the New Year are already planned for us – unravelling the mystery that is DAS? Who won, who did not?

Happy 2013 to all of us!

The author is the India CEO of media holding company Omnicom Media Group that has media agencies such as OMD and PHD in its fold

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