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Involve viewers with your shows: Rajat Sharma

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Involve viewers with your shows: Rajat Sharma

How should GECs and news channels reinvent themselves to meet changing needs of the audience and advertisers? The simple answer, according to Rajat Sharma, Chairman & Editor-in-Chief, India TV, was “Strike a chord with the viewers. Involve the viewers with your shows and advertisers would come to you.”

Connecting with the masses, Sharma pointed out, was integral for any television channel’s survival. “The channels are constantly trying to weave together both viewer and advertiser interest with ingenuity,” Sharma said.

“At India TV, cricket programmes are centred on the World Cup as they are the flavour of the season. One of them is ‘Big Toss’, the first cricket reality show that has a bunch of celebrities on board. Such concepts produce a plethora of sales opportunities as well attract large chunks of audiences,” Sharma said.

Speaking on the innovations that India TV had done to appease the audience and the advertisers, Sharma shared how a small ground was turned into a cricket pitch with experts on it while they commented on the game. Meanwhile, the ground had hoardings and ground lines with the advertisers’ messages.

‘Big Toss’ features Veena Malik and Rakhi Sawant and records the reactions of the two TV celebrities while they watch the World Cup matches.

According to Sharma, viewers craved for new concepts and, therefore, GECs witnessed a sudden change in their shows in 2010. Currently, most soaps that ran on GECs – be it ‘Balika Vadhu’ or ‘Na Aana Is Des Lado’ – the basic storyline was based on the lives of people living in small towns or villages. “Rahat Taslim, winner of ‘KBC-4’, too, hails from a small town. The promos of the show featuring Taslim also reaffirm the fact that small town is being targeted through these shows,” Sharma pointed out.

Another characteristic of these shows is that social issues – child marriage, female infanticide, honour killing or any other social evils practiced – are addressed through these shows. Also, reality shows rope in big Bollywood stars to connect with the masses. “These shows do well because the audience identifies with them and when the show does well, it opens many avenues for advertisers to connect with their target audience,” he noted.

Meanwhile, telecom was one of the heaviest advertisers in 2010. “In the bygone year, telecom companies such as Airtel, Vodafone and Idea advertised heavily on television to reach their target audience,” Sharma said. According to the Pitch Madison Media Advertising Outlook 2011, Airtel and Vodafone were the top two advertising brands on television. Meanwhile, Idea was the fourth largest advertiser. After FMCG, which commands a large share of around 55 per cent in the TV ad pie, only telecom is the next big advertiser with a share of 11 per cent.

Rajat Sharma was speaking at an event organised on February 25 to discuss the findings of the Pitch Madison Media Advertising Outlook 2011, presented by Star Majha. The report projects that the TV industry’s growth may slow down to 20 per cent in 2011, as compared to 24 per cent growth in 2010.

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