Garuav Seth, SVP, Head-Marketing at Sony Entertainment Television (SET) speaks about the new strategy of SET to create content as well as communication to reclaim the space it once enjoyed.
What are the challenges for SET (Sony TV) and how do you plan to tackle them?
I feel the content play will work only of the communication play is successful because clearly one of the challenges we are facing is reach. There are not as much as people watching Sony TV, at least as many people that were watching maybe 2 or 3 years ago. So I have a challenge on my hand just to attract more people. One way of doing that is getting content which is differentiated, which is what we are doing. The other thing is to create communication which is differentiated and catch people by shaking them up or making them laugh or cry, but evoke strong emotions which will then get people to take notice of the brand and the content you are pushing. There is a clear strategy to say hard hitting communication is going to form the basis of what we are going to do coupled with content which is differentiated.
In a market with growing competition every day, what are you doing to capture the audience?
There are more than 10 GECs today but the idea is to not just pluck at audience’s heart strings, but grab them. I thought that Itna Karo Na Mujhe Pyaar was a great show. It got good ratings or decent ratings by our standards but they are not out of the roof. The strategy is to go after content which is not found on rival channels. Our audience expects a lot from us and we are looking to live up to those expectations. It is not the shows that you find on other channels. It is differentiated, heart wrenching, emotional, it will make you think and act, it is good quality content and it has your favourite stars. There was a lot of emphasis on Yudh, KBC and smaller shows, but I think that course correction has happened in terms of what we want to offer. We have heard the voice of the consumer.
What are your plans on the digital platforms?
India is young and on their mobile phones or laptops. There is so much content which is being consumed there and trends which are starting from digital. Everybody has a mobile phones or smart phones. They want to share. I believe that they need to share my content and my philosophy and what I am trying to share. That is what will make a buzzy brand.
Will this talk and chatter on digital domains translate into viewership?
Ratings do matter. They are the only thing that matters. Yes it will translate to viewership. I will create communication around my brand and will use that to generate buzz around upcoming shows, stars and content plays and will then steer conversations back to watching shows online. There are distinct phases of communication but it is critical that I do not just talk about a show which is coming about and two or three promos that are coming out so please watch my show. I have to put a bigger effort in and I have to get a hammer which is bigger and have to pound at many levels to achieve a holistic result which other channels do by just doing normal activities. The eye is clearly on Thursday (release of TAM ratings). In isolation you cannot work. It has to be geared towards creating a big bang on the show launch, get the numbers (ratings) in, get people talking and watching and then get the results on Thursday.
Getting stars on shows also increase the expenses, how will you manage this?
We did different kinds of experimentation with expense last year. We had big shows like Yudh, KBC, Entertainment Ki Liye Kuch Bhi Karega, etc. Those cost a lot of money as well and are big format shows, so we will experiment with fiction this year and good content, high cost fiction which will provide a differentiated result hopefully.