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Guest Column: Television and OTT will co-exist and work synergistically: Saurabh Yagnik, Sony Pictures Networks India

30-December-2016
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Guest Column: Television and OTT will co-exist and work synergistically: Saurabh Yagnik, Sony Pictures Networks India

Saurabh Yagnik, Executive Vice-President and Business Head, English Entertainment Cluster, Sony Pictures Networks India, takes a look at the highlights of 2016 for the broadcasting industry especially in the English language.

We work in a very dynamic and exciting industry – every year is full of action and this year has been no different. The biggest highlights of 2016 have been:

  • The full-year rollout of the new measurement system under BARC. This has been a complex and transformational rollout.
  • The second is the launch of OTT platforms in India with every big broadcaster and independent players like Netflix and Amazon launching their services here. How this platform intermingles with broadcast and leads to driving consumption of content is something that will be interesting to track.
  • Regulatory changes proposed for the distribution of channels which is a significant change and a departure from the established distribution mechanism.

From the English category perspective, the BARC measurement system has had an adverse impact on the size and share of viewership of the category. Further, the skew of viewership has tilted significantly towards non-traditional markets. This has had its own set of challenges for the industry, particularly since such skews are not backed by secondary data such as Box Office collection and social media conversations. BARC is a huge transformational change and any such transformation will always have its share of challenges. Unfortunately, the new measurement has posed challenges for our category resulting in headwinds in its growth story. I however believe that this is a temporary blip and BARC will do all that is necessary to reflect the true potential of the English category.

This year also saw the emergence of various OTT platforms, comprising both new players as well as respective platforms of all broadcasters. A lot of speculation has already been voiced on how the two platforms, i.e. television and OTT will co-exist. In my view, they will work synergistically.

Demonetisation is another significant event that has caused a temporary set-back to most advertising in the country. There has been a negative impact on demand and consequentially on advertising. This is expected to bring an opportunity for more digital transactions and further growth of the digital economy, higher credit velocity, increased consumption and tax compliance. All this should augur well for the economy in the medium and long-term.

Looking back at the English category this year, we saw launches of HD and new channels. Launch of HD channels are a step in the right direction since we deal with premium audiences who are migrating much faster to HD platform. Also this year saw the launch of two new channels in the English movies category: Sony LePlex HD and Movies Now 2.

For the Sony English Cluster, this has been an action packed year. First we relaunched our flagship English Entertainment Channel AXN in the English entertainment space making it lot more contemporary and appealing to audience through our new brand positioning Live R.E.D. The outcome of the relaunch has been very positive as demonstrated from all consumer research that we have undertaken so far. The relaunch messaging of content diversity and the viewer gratification of Mind Rush has been well registered and understood by our viewers. That has enabled us to create greater differentiation in the category.

In the movies space, our long-term deal with NBC Universal resulted in premieres of the biggest blockbusters on Sony PIX such as ‘Jurassic World’, ‘Minions’, ‘Furious 7’ etc. We also expanded our footprint into the South Asia markets. We launched a new movie channel, Sony LePlex HD, an offering of premium Hollywood movies. With the brand tagline Where You Belong, Sony Le PLEX HD serves as a fun hangout for viewers to connect and converse over quality Hollywood movies. It caters to avid movie viewers with films that are popular and critically acclaimed.

I think 2017 is going to be another exciting year. The key task would be to consolidate gains from our investments of the previous year. We also look forward to BARC reflecting the true potential of the English category. It will be interesting to observe the OTT space in the coming year. Our strategy remains unchanged – which is about investing in great content, innovating to build perception and building a strong portfolio of channels across the English bouquet.

I feel these are interesting times and in this uncertain global environment, India is placed today at a competitively more advantageous position. One has to see how this advantage is leveraged next year.

(The author is Executive Vice-President and Business Head, English Entertainment Cluster, Sony Pictures Networks India)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com

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