Where the industry is moving between media extinction and evolution, STAR Entertainment’s CEO, Sameer Nair, believes that media is mutating. Speaking at the Media Review, organised by the Bombay Ad Club, on October 12, Nair threw light on the new pressures and new solutions in Media.
As is the case with most of his presentations, Nair chose humour to drive home some very serious points. “We shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously,” began Nair and followed it with a clipping of ‘The Great Indian Laughter Challenge’ and some well placed New Yorker cartoons. One of the first points he made was that media was well connected today and that most mediums co-existed. Citing one of his favourite examples, Nair spoke on World Cup football, which despite seeing an increase in viewership, still had packed stadiums.
“All forms of media will continue,” asserted Nair. He pointed out that with the proliferation of news channels, people were very well informed about what was happening around them and hence, the level of awareness was increasing. At the same time, India is the youngest country today. He said, “India is the like the US in the 1960s.”
Products in the country like television sets, PCs, mobile handsets, DVD players are being sold more everyday and India has a good GDP to flaunt as well. “While this is all good, it makes matters a bit confusing,” said Nair, adding, “Don’t come home without the money bag is what everyone is facing today.”
He further said that while media houses thought they were on the right track, media buyers thought differently. “Buyers view us as media vehicles and on terms like Reach, Frequency, CPRPs and so on. Media houses, on the other hand, think more on the lines of captivating audience, entertaining, enthralling, moving and so on.”
Speaking further on ‘active media’ or the mass media today, he drew a comparison between the scene then and now. Calling it ‘the happy days’, Nair drew the picture of entertainers and mediums on the one hand, and media houses, advertisers and agencies on the other, and the consumer at the end of it – everyone playing a happy role. However, the picture stands changed today. Media has fragmented and buying has consolidated, leading to increased pressures on the media houses.
Nair cited examples of 300-plus channels, 50,000-plus magazines and the likes to accentuate the fragmentation in media. In addition to that, there are increased costs. “I have bought ‘Ghulam’ once for Rs 90 lakh and it was seen as an outrageous bid. Today, ‘Krrish’ is being bought for Rs 11 crore, and the asking price of ‘Lago Raho Munnabhai’ even before the movie was released was Rs 15 crore,” Nair pointed out.
Channels are paying more for shows everyday and government regulations like FDI restrictions, censor certificates et al only made life more difficult. Nair believed that media houses were headed for the Wal Mart Effect – that is ‘super effect’ to ‘super power’. There is an increase in pushing down of costs and super fragmentation.
“Each time a new threat arises, people talk about extinction. I don’t think media is evolving or facing extinction, I think it is mutating,” asserted Nair. He brought back the focus on the growing Indian consumption class and pointed out that media houses had to look out for new alternatives to survive.
He then cited the example of the movie business and the manner in which it had diversified to create new avenues of growth. Media, too, was already seeing these examples, given the endeavours of the likes of The Times of India, Zee Telefilms and STAR.
Another key point that Nair drove at was the need to create a single mass touchpoint, “Like politics, marketing and advertising also need mobs – that is where media is mutating and we should mutate together. These are tough times and only the quick-witted and nimble-footed will survive,” concluded Nair.