Day Two of the FICCI Media & Entertainment Business Conclave (MEBC), held in Hyderabad on December 2, 2010, saw an interactive session on the topic ‘Rethinking content: The Holy Grail of a TV channel’s success’. Sanjay Reddy, Senior VP, Sun TV Network, moderated the session, which had on the panel LV Krishnan, CEO, TAM Media Research Pvt Ltd; Krishna Desai, Director - Programming, Entertainment Networks, South Asia, Turner International India Pvt Ltd; Simmi Karna, Chief Revenue Officer, Business Head - South, Balaji Telefilms; Anup Chandrasekharan, Business Head, Star Suvarna; GK Mohan, Producer; Shashank Pallamala, Director, Srikanth Entertainment Pvt Ltd; and SK Barua, Managing Director, Fremantle Media India.
Karna of Balaji Telefilms categorically stated, “I don’t think we are rethinking content. Even though India is undergoing socio-economic change, our values remain the same and the content that is being created today is nothing new.” To prove her point, she further said, “The content that is trying to change like ‘Bigg Boss’ or ‘Rakhi Ka Insaaf’ is not well received by public and there is a huge hue and cry indicating that our society is still not mature enough to handle new content.”
On a similar note, Pallamala too pointed that a majority number that comprised loyal Indian viewership base was women and they wanted to watch daily soaps and advertisers, too, wanted to be on these shows. In fact, most advertisers targeted woman because they actually drove the fate of many brands. He, however, added, “Television shows are not just social entertainment, but social responsibility too.”
Sharing his mantra for success and presenting a different view, Chandrasekharan said, “Today, the audience cannot be taken for granted. The content has to engage the viewers and we have seen a trend in the Kannada space, which is a conservative market yet people have got fed up of the same old content and have stopped watching these channels and Kannada channels are showing de-growth. We are experimenting with newer contents and reality shows on Suvarna, which is yielding results. We cannot stop experimenting as we are paid to do that.”
He added, “To grow, the channel has to look beyond the core TG of women and include other TG, and for this, even in reality formats one has to move away from the regular song and dance shows.”
GK Mohan gave an interesting mantra for success, which was of ‘U and I’, meaning understanding the medium and audience and innovation.
Barua of Fremantle Media, which has brought its international format shows like ‘Got Talent’ (‘India’s Got Talent’) and ‘Idol’ (‘Indian Idol’) pointed out, “While getting the international format shows, we try to keep intact the basics, but we have been localising to suit Indian sensitivity. For us, it’s all about clean fun and making viewers happy.”
Desai of Turner International India gave insight into what goes into scheduling and programming. He said, “We cater largely to kids with Cartoon Network and Pogo, and we find that there is lot of consumption of content happening outside of television too. In fact, kids are a difficult audience to gauge. While scheduling, many times we have been trying out the policy of complementing and competing with each other for both the channels. We will run two big different properties at the same time on both the channels, so while they compete with each other on viewership, we have also found that both the channels put together on those days have outnumbered other channels.” He also pointed out the important aspect of packaging and promotion that helped in getting viewership.
LV Krishnan in his charismatic style pointed out the basic truth that even in ancient times we lived with the Epics and even today we like the key aspects that these Epics depict – marriages, mother-in-law and murder. He added, “That is what worked earlier and that’s the content which finds understanding with the audience. At the end, it’s about story-telling.”
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