Speaking at the exchange4media News Broadcasting Awards (enba 2016), Sanjay Gupta, Managing Director at Star India provided the news media with “an outsider’s view” or “a neighbour’s view” in relation to what is happening in the industry. Taking into account the global economic, political and social churn, Gupta opined that there is an unprecedented hunger for information.
“As I see it, there has never been better for news than today. This may seem contrary to common wisdom as some of the conversations about ratings that we hear every day,” Gupta said. Keeping aside the TRPs debate for a while, he stressed that the rapid pace at which the world is changing has led to immense eagerness among the youth. Such an environment has enabled the news media to become more relevant than ever before.
Fourfold increase in news television consumption
Basing his arguments on statistical data, Gupta tried to challenge the notion that TRPs have either declined or remained stagnant for news. This persisting belief has caused many to reason that the low viewership is a result of lack of interest in news especially among young audiences. But Gupta argued that an intense study of the weekly data published by Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) introduces one to a vastly different reality. The past six years have, in fact, contributed to a fourfold increase in news television consumption.
“Indians last year spent a total of 2800 billion minutes, almost an hour and a half every week, watching news on television up from 780 billion minutes per annum six years back. It’s a fourfold growth that has happened in the last six years,” he said. Talking specifically in relation to young viewers, he claimed that they are spending as much as 5-6 hours a week consuming news across screens.
“The challenge is that the metric that we use today do not capture the growth which is happening in the news viewership in the country even on television,” Gupta lamented as he suggested that news consumption by youngsters across screens was almost two and a half times higher than the national average.
WhatsApp is most important news destination
Delving into the realities of our times, Gupta asserted that the news consumption habits of the youngsters are divorced from the morning newspapers and 9 P.M. news bulletins. They were far too busy in the virtual space amidst likes, shares, tweets and snaps.
“The big challenge is despite having the best journalistic minds and resources in this industry and in this room, ironically, the most important destination for news today is WhatsApp and not one of the television news channels,” he said. Having worked extensively in the entertainment and sports broadcasting genre, he mentioned that they were having similar experiences.
The young were gaining access to information and analysis regarding sporting events on their handheld devices. Some even preferred following live broadcast on their phones very much like most attendees at the award show would have followed the updates of the India-Australia cricket match.
Engage the youth
Batting for embracing the tidal change in information consumption patterns, Gupta called for engaging the youth in unique ways. He cautioned against thinking that merely creating a website, mobile app or putting up content on YouTube drives engagement. “Just making an app is not going digital and it definitely doesn’t guarantee better engagement with the young,” he stated.
Urging broadcasters to redefine the entire consumer experience, he pleaded them to ponder not just about the nature of the content that is being consumed but also the manner of its consumption. According to him, digital allowed broadcasters to dabble with new formats like virtual reality. Giving an international overview, he claimed that sports broadcasters have been able to increase viewership across screens by constructing a “symbiotic relationship” between digital and television. While no has entirely unlocked the mystery behind digital, Gupta echoed the need for constant learning.
In his capacity as the chairman of the jury for exchange4media News Broadcasting Awards (enba 2016), Gupta expressed his renewed confidence in the resourcefulness and talent of those who bring out promising and insightful stories. As the news media continues to hold a mirror to the society, he left the audience with an important question when he said, “Are you ready to cast off the legacy television mindset and start afresh to engage the young minds?”
exchange4media News Broadcasting Awards 2016 was powered by Zee Rajasthan News and celebrated the most creative, daring and innovative news broadcast endeavours in the past one year.