By FY2023, digital is poised to be the second biggest segment after TV: Avinash Pandey

Guest Column: Avinash Pandey, CEO, ABP News Network, believes that multiple measures will be needed if traditional and digital media are to stay ahead of the innovation curve

e4m by Avinash Pandey
Updated: Jan 13, 2020 9:20 AM
Avinash Pandey

It is amply clear that the Indian economy is undergoing a slowdown. Despite this, the Media and Entertainment industry has registered a vibrant double-digit growth of 13.3 per cent in FY2019, touching Rs 1,631 billion. As before, although TV continues enjoying the largest market share, digital and online gaming have registered the fastest growth. By FY2023, digital is poised to emerge as the second-biggest segment after television, attracting the highest marketing outlays among all media segments. Yet, as digital usage soars, there are concerns about data privacy and allied issues, sounding a note of caution to all stakeholders. Concomitantly, news viewing continues to remain a powerful source of commonplace communication in every Indian household. Despite the disruptions, television is the most trusted medium when it comes to news consumption.

Conversely, TV’s growth was slower than anticipated, mainly due to the continued economic slowdown. This was directly followed by the New Tariff Order (NTO), which has spawned cutback in the ad spends. In this vein, marketing outlays for TV may continue facing headwinds in 2020. But digital may continue to buck this trend, given its rising reach due to the steady spread of the high-speed Internet and the ever-increasing mobile penetration across India.

Notwithstanding the growth of digital, it is imperative to note that this does not spell curtains for the traditional media – either in the short or long term. As events in the past have shown (when the obituary of Radio was being predicted after the meteoric rise of TV), both mediums will continue to co-exist as the water of each segment finds its own level.

On another note, regional content is rapidly gaining impetus in the market and various media conglomerates are reaping the dividends of the local upsurge. The Marathi and Bengali-speaking market is witnessing burgeoning growth. If BARC ratings between Week 18 to 32 for 2017 are compared with those in 2019, Marathi saw 72 per cent growth in viewership whereas Bangla saw 39 per cent growth. This has further widened the scope and reach of television news.

Common Concerns
The inexorable emergence of fake news will continue to bedevil both conventional and digital media, which would need to come up with new a system of checks and myth-busters to stop its pernicious spread. Another ongoing challenge for digital media will be about how to monetise varied offerings without losing clicks and eyeballs since advertising revenue may no longer be adequate to meet burgeoning outgoings. India being a traditionally price-sensitive market, this will need to be done with a degree of finesse to ensure attrition rates of consumers do not surge.
Micro-segmenting target markets would be one way to drive faster monetisation. Digital entities would also need to offer more accurate ROI measurement tools to win the confidence and trust of advertisers that they are offering a worthwhile proposition.

As viewers and users of both traditional and digital media grapple with time constraints, the struggle to gain viewership and boost brand loyalty will become more intense. Artificial Intelligence, data analytics and machine learning would all need to be put to good use in meeting these challenges.

Despite the stiff challenge from digital, TV though will continue to grow in various geographies, both urban and rural, given its vast spectrum of entertainment and news offerings. Besides this, there will also be greater growth of regional and news channels.

With branded content on the rise, television news is all set to enhance the viewing experience through creative content collaborations. In this vein, ABP News Network has introduced a ‘Spotlight’ team, solely and purely dedicated towards branded content opportunities, further lessening the dependency on the inventory.

Regional, Innovative, Offbeat
Like in 2018-19, regional channels will continue making sustained inroads into the viewership and advertising revenue pie. It comes as no surprise that almost 70 per cent of the new channels launched last year were regional ones, which have a mass base in the rural regions.

In addition, thanks to the pressure on margins and the mounting challenge of procuring investments, both broadcast and digital managements will expect more from their employees. Those employees adept at innovating, ideating and implementing new plans would be considered more valuable assets than others. Therefore, up-skilling and reskilling will emerge as major imperatives for employees as well as employers. In the case of the former, this will be required to ensure they remain upwardly mobile and relevant while for the latter it would be necessary to ensure their offerings are competitive in a hypercompetitive market.

With digital penetration going up, the reach of news channels is expanding through a two-pronged approach to news delivery. Most broadcast channels are now foraying into digital, be it through Live TV, digital portals or mobile apps, thus fostering youth engagement.

Furthermore, AI technologies have also stepped in to level up the broadcast game, unlatching several doors for editing and media management tasks. Such technologies will also amalgamate the viewership data of linear TV and digital platforms, making the feedback loop even more effective and integrated. Return Path Data clubbed with the existing data offerings will be equally insightful in gathering richer feedback from the viewers, further contributing to stronger, viewer-driven content.

Though these new technology trends will enrich the customer experience by boosting the quality of content offerings, technology being a double-edged sword, it will come with the burden of greater expectations, including that of faster or instant gratification. But the rollout of 5G services in the coming future will be welcomed by all media stakeholders, including consumers since it will offer never-before experiences for viewers.

Finally, both mediums would be better placed if big data analytics were deployed in gleaning new insights about varied viewers, including millennials. Better outcomes will be possible in 2020 if media outlets ensure they are in sync with changing consumer preferences and behaviour. There is too much at stake for them if they wish to stay ahead of the innovation and disruptions curve.

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