Raj Nayak, CEO of Colors, the general entertainment channel from the Viacom18 stable, says Colors will continue to be a leading player among the GECs. “Sometimes being No. 2 works to our advantage,” he stated. “We are seen as a challenger brand and that keeps us on our toes and pushes us to try harder. Our focus at the moment is on profitability and that is more important to us; we won’t compromise on profitability to become No. 1,” he added.
Talking to exchange4media on the channel completing five years of existence on July 21, 2013 and its position in the GEC genre, Nayak said, “This is an exciting time for all of us at Colors – a big landmark. For me, it has been a very exciting and rewarding journey. Of the five years, I have been here for almost two-and-a-half years, i.e., the second half of the innings. Colors will be written about in the industry’s history as a channel that came in as the 11th player in an extremely competitive environment, and became the No. 1 GEC within a year. The credit for this must go to the founding team at Colors and my predecessor Rajesh Kamat, who laid a very strong foundation for the company, which I was lucky to inherit.”
On how the channel has evolved and positioned itself over the years, Nayak observed, “When Colors launched, it had to do something new to carve a niche for itself. Hence, it looked for differentiated content, identified need gaps, took a lot of risk, and capitalised on Bollywood, got shows which nobody would have dared to put on television at that time, for example Balika Vadhu, the longest running show on the channel. What also worked for Colors was a disruptive format. All these initiatives were backed by strong distribution and sound marketing. It was a Big Bang strategy with all guns blazing, a calculated risk, that luckily paid off for Colors. The channel went on to become No. 1 within a year and the rest is history.”
But success can also sometimes be a baggage, according to Nayak. “Your risk-taking ability goes down; this is also true in personal life. So suddenly from taking risks to experimenting with content, we started playing safe. The competition replicated the Colors strategy and suddenly we found ourselves repositioned,” he added.
Talking about his initial challenges, Nayak said, “Rajesh Kamat’s exit had created a lot of insecurity in the team. The channel was at No. 4 when I walked in. My first challenge was to boost the team’s morale and get them to accept me as their leader. As it happens, there were rumours that I was walking in with my own people and replacing key positions. Just when I was addressing this, our programming head Ashwini Yardi put in her papers,” shared Nayak, who went on to appoint two separate content heads for weekday and weekend programming, bringing in Prashant Bhatt and Manisha Sharma on board. The strategy has worked for Colors.
“The rest of the team is the same. I did not bring in a single person with me. A leader’s job is to create leaders, not followers. This was the same team that, before my time, took the channel to No. 1. This is the same team that did it again last year, and this will be the same team that will define the future of Hindi general entertainment over the next five years,” Nayak said confidently. “I was lucky to inherit one of the finest teams in this business, all passionate and hungry and extremely competent in their job profiles,” he added.
“I am also lucky to have Raghav Bahl and Sai Kumar in the initial stages to hold my hand and guide me as I took baby steps to understand the dynamics of content. Even today, Raghav, Sai, Sudhanshu and I meet once in three months – just creative meetings with the programming heads – where we brainstorm on what’s coming on the channel and we get a buy-in from all,” he said.
Viacom 18 had launched Colors on July 21, 2008, roping in Rajesh Kamat, formerly with Endemol and STAR India, to head the Hindi GEC. In April 2011, after Kamat quit, Viacom18 appointed media veteran Raj Nayak, founder of Aidem Ventures and founding member of Star TV and NDTV, as the CEO of Colors.