A pandemic later - Learnings from 2020

Guest Column: The threat of the pandemic has instilled in us a change in outlook towards life & beyond, says Tushar Shah, Business Head, English Cluster, Sony Pictures Networks India

e4m by Tushar Shah
Updated: Feb 12, 2021 4:11 PM
Tushar Shah - SPN

Light at the end of the tunnel is not an illusion, the tunnel is! And after an unprecedented 2020 that got us all off the mark, we have inched into a New Year replete with opportunities and possibilities. While the threat of the pandemic is still not down and away, it has instilled in us a definitive change in outlook towards life and beyond, equipped us to adapt to the new normal and has provided learnings to recalibrate and reboot our businesses. As meetings transitioned to video calls, work from home became the norm to live by and the world around us altered, this, in turn, reshaped consumer behavior giving out trends that will curate the future of how we function.

As a broadcaster, 2020 for me was a year of two A’s – Alignment and Adaptability. While it reinstated my belief in our core business practices that continued to deliver impact, it also made us venture into newer avenues and be flexible in our functioning. Moving ahead, we need to be constantly receptive to changes, focus harder on consumer-first strategies and have nimble approaches to brand positioning and engagement. Some of the trends that would define the media and entertainment sector shall be –

  • Power of Storytelling – Undeniably, content will rule the roost in 2021. As the world cocooned itself into a lockdown last year, it revamped viewing patterns compelling storytellers world over to hit a pause, shuffle up their strategies and create disruptive stories across genres and languages. As India’s most popular shows made their way back into the drawing rooms, daytime viewership skyrocketed by 43%*, spilling over to even niche genres like Infotainment and English Movies. Not only did it scale up family viewing patterns but reinstated the power of content that informs and engages. With data proliferation across India coupled with a rise in screen count that might hit a billion by 2025**, we are likely to see growth in demand for good content that would transcend formats and platforms. 
  • Tech It Easy – India is home to ~450 million smartphone users*** today so it’s not baffling that digital transformation was the most substantial repercussion of the pandemic and shall continue to be. With around 4 hours being spent on social media* daily, digital is no more an auxiliary medium but an alternate chain of content delivery to stay relevant, sustain audience connect and amplify a brand’s success. Last year saw a plethora of brands ride on its potential to drive engagement. For instance, Sony Entertainment Television’s 'Virtual Museum Tour' initiative for its show ‘Punyashlok Ahilyabai’ was a clear stand out in digital innovation as it acquainted the viewers with the valiant life story of Ahilyabai Holkar from the comfort of their home. Moving on, the focus shall continue to be on tapping audiences where they are, exploring digital solutions and using technology to foster a deeper understanding of brand offerings. 
  • Going Beyond – Into the new normal, being authentic and delivering a differentiated brand experience is going to be another key driver for brands. Given that consumers are spoilt for choices today and are defined by limited attention spans, it would be imperative to move beyond immediate business practices and curate thematic properties, co-branded initiatives or consumer-centric platforms that extend brand philosophy further and thereby boost engagement amongst the core target group. Initiative like ‘YouTube FanFest’, which serves as a melting pot of creators and fans, will tend to flourish further as means of building familiarity. We, at Sony BBC Earth, are also consciously exploring such platforms that are personalized, innovative and in resonance with the psyche and preference of our target groups.

In culmination, I feel the challenges of 2020 have shaped us up for long term learnings and showed us new ways to chart growth.

*BARC - Nielsen Report on COVID 19 - July 2020

**FICCI-EY Report - Media and entertainment - 2020

***Comscore India - December 2020

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com 

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