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Guest Column: While 2016 kept us at the edge of our seat, 2017 will be even more transformative: Anuj Poddar, Colors Marathi

02-January-2017
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Guest Column: While 2016 kept us at the edge of our seat, 2017 will be even more transformative: Anuj Poddar, Colors Marathi

As we enter the New Year, Anuj Poddar, Head, Colors Marathi and COLORS Gujarati, Viacom18, shares the game-changing moments of 2016 and the expected trends for the regional broadcast space in 2017.

2016 was an eventful year that shocked and awed us at the same time…from Trump winning the US elections, the loss of two influential political figures, Fidel Castro of Cuba to Jayalalitha aka Amma closer to home, demise of sporting icon Muhammad Ali to the ongoing demonetisation saga. While 2016 made me grieve the loss of one of my favourite singers, George Michael, it also gave me many occasions to celebrate the remarkable successes of Virat Kohli and his super team. To summarise, 2016 was a watershed year in many ways that kept throwing changes and surprises and reminded me yet again that the ability to navigate through a changing and dynamic world is what propels people and organisations to success. The media industry and the regional entertainment category too had its definitive game changer moments.

India got OTT ready: While it’s been spoken of since long, 2016 finally witnessed a proliferation of several OTT platforms like Voot, Hotstar, Amazon, Netflix etc. combined with the advent of 4G and Jio. All of this set the stage for the real growth and boom of digital-enabled entertainment in India. This is just the beginning and it is early days yet; increasing acceptance and adoption of these services will transform the ecosystem for all stakeholders and lead to significant evolution of broadcasting and content creation with it.

Content turned grassroots: On the content-side preferences of masses have turned more grass root: so while shows that are deep rooted in the country’s mythology and history like Naagin, Ashoka, Chandra Nandini conquered television, films like Sultan, Dangal and Sairat, with their grounded-appeal, ruled at the box-office.  Clearly, entertainment that can provide a break from the mundane routine of life and take you into a world of great stories and fantasy visuals has emerged as the audience favorite.

Regional entertainment grew in scale and value: The regional entertainment category has also witnessed significant growth in scale and value. The regional category - GECs, music, movies and news put together - has grown by 18 per cent through this CY (Jan 2016 to date). The genre share has also witnessed substantial growth in the same time period, creating a strong value proposition for advertisers and marketers. The genre has seen further segmentation and increase in value offering for its viewers with the introduction of HD feeds and launch of targeted channels within the respective markets.  The regional content viewer is now very demanding and is being offered superior quality content that is at par with national platforms.

Marathi entertainment, the creative hotspot:  The Marathi entertainment category has fortified its standing as a creative hotspot, emerging as a breeding ground for new ideas, stories, innovations and fresh rooted content.  This has brought in much greater vibrancy and aspiration into the Marathi entertainment genre. From being an industry that would lose talent to Bollywood and others, to now attracting national talent with the likes of Priyanka Chopra, Vidya Balan and Sanjay Leela Bhansali who want to be a part of this extraordinary growth story, there has been a huge transformation.

While 2016 threw in surprises our way and kept us at the edge of our seat, I believe 2017 will be even more transformative and we need to brace for more changes.  The three key trends that I expect to see in 2017 across the broadcast industry are:

Greater Convergence of the Digital with the Broadcast world:  Traditional broadcast and the OTT-led digital worlds are right now dealing with distinct TGs and in their respective spheres of adoption. 2017 will witness the beginning of greater convergence between them. The lines between digital and broadcast will truly begin to blur for a large part of the audience. They will consume ‘broadcast’ content through ‘digital’ services on their TV sets. Linear and non-linear preferences will get re-aligned. Content formats will get re-engineered to suit this more dynamic and multi-platform consumption. Ratings systems will need to capture and depict this new converged world.

Road to CPM: With advertisers seeking greater transparency, rigour and efficacy on their media spends I hope and expect that we will move from CPRP-based media buying on television towards CPM as the primary currency. This will enable media planners and advertisers to allocate their spends across media platforms in a more robust and transparent manner and generate better value and performance for all stakeholders.

Greater Assertion of Viewer preferences: Regulatory trigger of unbundling channel bouquets coupled with increased adoption of OTT services will lead to greater assertion of viewers on channel and content selection. Audiences will evolve from being passive choosers, to making a more ‘active’ choice of what to subscribe and what to watch. This, in turn, will empower and encourage broadcasters and content creators to develop, curate and serve diverse and targeted content which is directed towards meeting varying viewers’ demands. The ability of a few channels or a few shows to enjoy sustained dominance will come under pressure; only those that constantly adapt to this more dynamic ecosystem and diverse and shifting viewer preferences will be able to succeed.

I look forward to the excitement that 2017 has in store for us and hope that it continues to pave the way for an even more robust and dynamic industry.

(The author is Head, Colors Marathi and COLORS Gujarati, Viacom18)

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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