Looking for new growth avenues is imperative for any industry to grow and survive, especially in times of economic crunch. This is true for news media as well. ‘News Media’s Search for New Growth Avenues’ was discussed at length in a lively debate at the NewsNext 2009 conclave by a panel comprising Anita Nayyar of Havas Media, Rahul Sood of NDTV, Sandeep Sharma of Times Now and Suhel Seth of Counselage. Pranjal Sharma of UTVi moderated the session.
NewsNext 2009, an exchange4media Group initiative, was held in Delhi on August 26. Times Now was the main sponsor of NewsNext 2009.
Pranjal Sharma commenced the discussion asking the panelists what they thought media should do to garner new growth avenues.
Sandeep Sharma was of the opinion that what was most evidently emerging was the Internet. “The Internet is definitely an aspect that we have to look at. This space is not very active right now, but with the coming of 3G, mobile TV is bound to be the next big thing,” he said.
Reacting to Sandeep Sharma’s view, Rahul Sood said that it all depended on how much one monetised on whichever aspect one was looking at. He said, “We see flagship channels through a bouquet, especially on the distribution front. We see that 80 per cent of the Rs 2,000 crore distribution is through the four big bouquets, so it gets a cross-section of audiences.” Pointing out the current economic slowdown, Sood noted, “Only channels with alternate revenue channels have survived. Thus, newer growth revenues focusing on ad sales have to be brought into the perspective.”
On a slightly different note, Anita Nayyar said that standalone or bouquet made no difference. “The market is cluttered. From a planning perspective, there is so much of clutter. More and more channels are coming in. Due to this, we very clearly see that the channel shares are dropping further, even though a particular channel by itself is leading,” she noted.
Suhel Seth had a different view altogether. To him, it was a situation of blind leading the blind. In his candid way he said, “No one has any idea about anything and truth is that innovation has stopped long ago. Firstly, we are following a herd mentality and secondly, no one is even thinking of attracting the youth, which is what the focus should be on. We have the right mix of talent in production, but what is the point of it when there is no re-energising of the consumers happening?”
Commenting on the media being consumed ahead, Seth said, “Unless there is monetisation happening, there will be nothing. Firstly, clients need to understand the efficiency and the consumer equally.”
Speaking on why clients were reluctant to use the new age media, Nayyar said, “While clients do look at its usage, they are not convinced because it simply does not serve the purpose of their brands.”
The panelists came to the conclusion that each media had a different purpose and that it needed to be articulated well. Apart from that, the content had to be relevant and customised to what the consumer actually wanted and if it made economic sense, opportunities would open up in any field.
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