In a conversation with Nikhil Gandhi, VP and Head of Revenue for Disney India and Vijay Subramaniam, VP – Content and Communications, Media Networks, Disney India we find out the key highlights for the TV broadcast Industry in 2014, the key developments in their network, challenges faced, brand categories most active in the industry and properties that have done well for the network’s channels.
What were the key highlights for the TV broadcast industry in 2014?
Gandhi: Overall it has been a year of evolution for the broadcast industry. There have been many firsts as far the distribution business is concerned. Right from the very positive regulatory changes to the few challenges as far as digitization of Phase III & IV are concerned. Overall it has been a very positive move for the broadcast industry, more from the angle of tackling the ground issues in distribution, from carriage to packaging, to the whole idea of the subscriber base being audited correctly. On the other side, there are challenges on the ground in terms of collections, ARPUs continue to remain low and I think we are in the process of evolving to a mature level of distribution in the next 24 months. So overall it has a positive move, not ideal but positive.
What were the key developments during 2014 in the genres that the network caters to?
Gandhi: In the kids’ genre we will continue to remain leaders in the space and that comes on the back of Disney and Hungama channels being in the top slot. A good surge in the Hungama ratings has happened on the back of some good shows that we have acquired in the last 12 months. So for us the big change has been that Disney has consolidated its No.1 top slot and Hungama has come about to being at the top slot right now in the last three months. Overall it has been a very good year as far as our kid’s network is concerned. On the other hand we saw the evolution of UTV Stars being changed to its new avatar called Bindass Play which has been a big move. Now Bindass consolidates as the No.1 youth brand in the country with Bindass Entertainment being one and Bindass Play being the other. We also saw the advent of Bindass going into branded content as well as digital solutions. Our entire web based business has taken a new leap, I think we are on our way to a big potential on that front going forward. The way we have structured Bindass Play is that it continues to be a leader in its space and we launched an app which enables a lot of interactivity and engagement with the brand. On the movies side it is anyone’s game as far as ratings is concerned, but yes we have been very clear as far as strategy is concerned in terms of being in the space that nobody occupies at the level that we are. We continue to invest in good content which makes sense from a long term perspective.
What were the main challenges that the industry faced in 2014?
Gandhi: Largely the challenges have been from a distribution point of view and those challenges are waiting to be overcome in the next 12 to 18 months the way I see it. We have a new government and the overall mood has been a bit upbeat with a little bit of caution but there is certain level of advertiser confidence that has come into play and we hope that the mood remains like that as the new year progresses.
What were the advertiser brand categories that were most active on your network in 2014?
Gandhi: The conventional FMCG category currently is evergreen and vibrant and they continue to be. Insurgence in a new category in the form of e-commerce has come about with all the e-tailing spends. We have also seen new category of brands being launched in the FMCG space. So from that point of view it was a good year and that will continue as we speak as that is where the biggest potential is. There are other categories in the phase of growth; the four-wheelers, two-wheelers, electronics, mobile category are very vibrant.
What are the properties in the genre that have really done for the channels in your network in 2014?
Subramaniam: For us, this year continued to be a year of great stories and entertainment that our viewers across genres – kids, young adults and families have loved.
With Bindass, our content and campaigns clearly reflected of the dynamic lives and realities of the world of young India and we entertained them with stories that were purposive and action-oriented. For instance: Halla Bol, which in both its seasons, encouraged women to stand up and follow their passion. Our viewers - both boys and girls loved the show and it was encouraging to see the industry recognizing our efforts as well.
Understanding that relationships are of great significance to the young minds, Yeh Hai Aashiqui embraced this within its storytelling and explored different facets of impossible relationships.
Along with this, we identified the importance of music in the lives of young adults and that surged the way for Bindass Play. We continued to build on our philosophy by enabling them to make a choice - be it through social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, the prevalent messaging service or trends such as ‘Selfie’. We also launched an app to facilitate their choice and empower them to make the channel their destination.
In the kids’ space, we introduced children to their very own celebrity with Captain Tiao who encouraged kids to ‘express themselves’, which is one of the values of Disney Channel. We continued to build on the other values such as believing in oneself with our local co-production Arjun: The Prince of Bali and celebrating family with our campaign ‘Jet Set Go’. We introduced action-adventure interspersed with fun and comedy with Pokémon which is currently the leading show in the genre today and delivers on the promise and personality of Hungama TV.
In movies, UTV Action continued to entertain audiences with added local relevance to our Marvel content and the Star Wars franchise.