Multi Screen Media (MSM) comprises Sony Entertainment Television (SET), MAX, SAB and PIX. SET, the group’s flagship channel, was launched in October 1995 and every now and then had shown the potential to beat the odds, and emerge on top. But there always have been reasons that kept the channel behind. A high of sorts is back at Sony, after a rather low phase, when ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ (KBC) opened with some good ratings.
Speaking on KBC, N P Singh, COO, Multi Screen Media (MSM) pointed out that small town India has responded very strongly to the show. This period has been a time for festivities at least for Mumbai and Kolkata and the viewership in these markets will increase as people will settle back and will watch more television now.
Sony’s “resurgent” journey, according to him, started in May 2009, when the channel was revamped and fresh programming was added. Singh admitted that they did not get immediate success with those shows, even as one or two shows stood out as successful ones (Entertainment ke liye kuch bhi karega). “From then on, we have brick-by-brick built the channel and I must confess that we have used our flagship property like CID very effectively to shoot up the ratings for the channel.”
The channel used shows such as ‘CID’, ‘Aahat’ and ‘Boogie Woogie’ to get viewership back to the channel. After having built that base, they added fresh programming and added original hours of CID on the channel and the number of hours of well performing shows was expanded as well. “Plus our investments in some very good Bollywood movies also helped the channel to get some good ratings,” added Singh.
Then with ‘Indian Idol’, the channel moved a notch up again and became consistent at 170 -180 GRPs and with ‘KBC’ launching last week, the channel has touched 200 GRPs and Singh is confident that they will continue to grow, not just at the back of KBC but also on the back of fiction shows — two new ones that they have launched this month and one more that they will launch next month and that will get them closer to the number two spot.
While the eventual aim of the channel is to become No 1 in its genre, Singh says it is difficult to predict when they will reach the numero uno position. He hopes it to be soon but to cross 300 GRPs one needs good solid content that they already have on the channel and a little bit of luck; he said a combination of the two will help them get there.
One of the programming experiments that the channel did earlier this year was to have five YRF shows. However, the shows did not get any numbers for the channel. Talking about the shows, Singh said, “Nothing really went wrong with the YRF shows. My belief is that that concept was perhaps a little ahead of its time. It had the best production values and its treatment was different from the regular content. Somehow it did not connect with the masses and that is why we did not get ratings.”
From the eyes of N P Singh
N P Singh has now seen 11 years of rebranding exercises, ups and downs and many other initiatives of the Group. Talking to exchange4media, about his journey through different functions within the group, he informed that he had joined the company as a CFO, when it was just three-years old, and was being run as a start-up. “I was brought to bring some control and processes and that is what I achieved in the first year and since,” observed Singh.
Singh has seen the network grow from a single channel to four channels plus a very distribution JV that MSM has with Discovery.
Within the network, the individual channels have seen their own rollercoaster rides. He said that the flagship channel, Sony Entertainment Television, is now the number three GEC in the country, MAX has continued to do well, SAB has in the last two years demonstrated very strong growth; PIX, a channel they launched in 2006 is a strong No. 3 in its genre and No. 2 for some weeks and now that they intend to have more current titles, he is confident that they will be a strong No. 2 and a contender for No. 1 position in that genre.
“As far as the challenges that I have faced, managing the ups and downs of the group itself poses a lot of challenges and offers opportunity for great learning and I have seized every such opportunity. And this is now helping me to manage the business side of the growth,” said Singh.