“My mantra to everyone is that we are winners, start believing like winners and let’s post some big wins on board” says an optimistic N.P. Singh, CEO, Multi Screen Media (MSM) as he shares his outlook for 2015, and how the channel plans to win back its core audience, and shares his excitement on the networks soon to be released film Piku, Singh is also positive on the continuation of ad spends from ecommerce players for at least two more years in terms of regulations, pushing youth-oriented sports properties further, the likelihood of BARC rolling out soon.
A few excerpts ……..
Sony TV seems to be getting back in its old avatar and playing to its strengths with the return of old successful shows like Aahat and Bhavaar; can 2015 can aptly be termed as the year of winning back the audiences for the channel?
The objective is to win back our core audiences, stay true to the DNA of the channel and continue to grow our viewership in the core markets where we are very popular. Our core audience had somewhere got neglected, in our attempt to reach a wider audience we are now trying to regain our loyal viewership and then grow gradually.
What are your growth expectations for the next fiscal?
The expected growth for next fiscal is at least a 25-30% growth in the top-line and 35-40% growth in the bottom-line. Yes, a stable government and the market sentiment improving will play a major role in the growth that we anticipate in the next fiscal. In addition to that the investment we have made in our network over the last two years will also start to perform for us in FY16.
On the back of 2014 ad spends, which are the categories that are looking promising in 2015 in your view ?
The biggest growth that we have seen earlier is etailers coming to the market and spending a lot of money across all mediums. We have seen competition intensifying in that category which is leading to a higher spending and they are well funded as well so at this stage they are trying to capture the market. At least over the next two years we will continue to see a growth in etailers. In addition this festival season we have seen some other categories becoming active which had not been active in the last one year or so because of the market conditions. Automobiles were active, mobile handsets was very active and is heating up with a lot of new players coming in as well, telecoms were active, some white goods like electronics were active. We have seen a lot of categories becoming active but in terms of new categories the one that has opened up this year is the etailers. We haven’t seen a major upsurge in spending by the FMCG players.
When you spoke of regulations you indicated that in the short term regulations have not been very positive, do you see the regulations in 2015 panning out positively?
We are quite there right now. In the short term regulations have had a negative impact on the broadcasting industry. But over the medium to long term we will start to see their benefits whether it is digitization getting completed or the ad cap regulation which will provide better service to the consumer, something that as responsible broadcasters we have always supported. The timing was a little off from our perspective because it should have come along with the digitization process getting completed effectively on ground. Unfortunately it came a little early, which is why I said short term negative impact but we believe there are benefits to be had because if the consumer experience is good there is a higher degree of engagement with your content and that will eventually lead to benefits to the broadcasters. As far as the aggregator order is concerned, all the joint ventures which were created to aggregate content and distribute it together have been dissolved or are in the process of being dissolved what will that lead to is broadcast companies setting up their own teams which is again a short term pain point. Over the one year or so it will all get settled and we though we will not see any major benefits from where we are today we will get back to normal business and start to get the revenues we were getting earlier. Because when there is disruption on ground you do see leakage of revenue somewhere because of renegotiations or a lot of other reasons.
Do you see the game shows as a format facing a problem, we saw a decline in KBC ratings this season…………
There has not really been a game show like KBC on any other channel. The seasons have come too quick in succession because when it is on air it comes on for a good 5-6 months time and then it comes back in another 6 months time so there is hardly any gap in between.
What is the potential of the sports business and what are your plans to grow the sports business?
We very strongly believe that the youth of the country is looking at sports outside cricket which is why when we launched our channel SIX we very clearly stated we will get sports which the youth follows into this market and we will bring some very strong brands into the market. We looked at the consumption of sports on the digital medium and realised that some of the international brands are very popular. And therefore we very cautiously picked those brands up and brought them into the market. I am very proud to say that these brands have got very strongly entrenched in this market place. Some were existing in the market like NBA but in 2011-2012 the reach of NBA, because it was on two different channels, was about 14 million. Last season it went up to 50 million and this is only for the live game. The highlights gave us another 20 million viewers. In two years’ time it has quadrupled on the live game. Likewise, UFC a brand new game we brought into the market is getting established well. UFC and TNA have both have become popular. Now we are bringing Super Bowl for the first time on television. We will continue to make investments in sports that the youth is following and that also includes football which is why we invested in FIFA. We will continue to invest in SIX because we strongly believe that sports is one genre which people will continue to want to watch live on a large screen.
From a government policy perspective what are the areas that need to be addressed in 2015 that will take the industry forward?
There are many things that need to be done, the one is that digitization in its true form gets established in the market so that the real benefits of digitization can be realised by the entire value chain. Right now while Phase III & IV have been postponed, Phase I & II although on paper have been implemented but the reality is that not much has changed on ground. The way the business got transacted earlier is the way the business is getting transacted today barring some pockets where progress has been made. We collectively have to make sure that digitization in its true form gets implemented so the entire value chain becomes transparent.
When are you expecting BARC to be implemented this year?
The launch date has not been frozen yet, but I am very confident that in the very early part of 2015 you will see BARC becoming a reality. We are big supporters of BARC because we believe that it will bring in the much desired and much required transparency in the entire system. The sample size will be robust enough. Initially it will come with 20,000-25,000 sample but will grow to 50,000. It will get better coverage across the country and the process will be audible and constituents will have an oversight on what is happening in BARC. So I strongly believe BARC is the right decision made collectively between the broadcasters, advertisers and agencies.
What do you attribute to the delays in BARC implementation to?
The establishment data or the base data did delay the process to some degree and then of course BARC wants to get everything right so everything is being tested over and over again to make sure that the results are robust and strong. It is best that it has to see a delay of a couple of months than launch it in a hurry.
What is your mantra for 2015 as a broadcast leader?
As a network it starts with winning back our viewers on the flagship (channel) and overall on the network but for the entire company, my mantra to everyone is that we are winners, start believing like winners and let’s post some big wins on board.
What are your plans on the movies business front for the network?
Our next big movie is currently under production, it’s called Piku directed by Sujit Sarkar. It has Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone and Irrfan Khan in the lead. It is slated to release by end of April. The final schedule got over and now it goes into post production. In the movie business we have taken smaller steps forward and 2015 we will try to accelerate that more. Now we have a full team in place which is run by Sneha Rajani. Earlier I was trying to run it on my own and then I realised it is not possible. We are in process of green lighting a lot of new projects for 2015. We are going to work with the best talent in the industry.
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