Impact of TV unmatched; digital, in fact, will complement TV: Raj Nayak

I don’t think the impact of TV can be matched with any other medium, says Raj Nayak of Viacom 18

e4m by Ruhail Amin
Updated: Sep 27, 2017 8:20 AM
Raj Nayak

While digital viewership might be witnessing big growth, television being a medium of mass connect, still has an unprecedented appeal. The rise of new genres, big sponsors and celebrity power is driving TV viewership like never before. Demystifying the argument that TV will become irrelevant in the wake of newer platforms propagated by the onset of the digital boom, Raj Nayak, COO, Viacom 18, spoke to exchange4 media about the growing clout of TV and more. Edited excerpts:

The spike in digital viewership is often cited as a reason of the diminishing clout of TV, how do you explain this argument?
If you see, in the US and even in India, TV viewership is growing, contrary to what you hear and what you read. I would say perception is different from reality. We are in 180 million households and we are expecting to reach another 250 million households soon. Not only that, there is another myth that the millennials are moving away from TV. The fact is that if you give them good content, they will shower all their attention on you. If they like the content, they will watch it. So the whole myth of millennials not watching long format is wrong. As stated, if you give them good content they will watch your content otherwise this channel would have shut down by now. 

On the contrary, what will happen is that online will work as a complement to television. If you observe, shows that are created for digital are also coming to TV--Netflix is coming to TV, Amazon is coming to TV and even YouTube is coming to TV. If you buy a smart TV today, YouTube is easily available. I don’t think the impact of TV can be matched with any other medium. We are the cheapest medium that is available and has been available, not just in India but also globally.

Here is another example. When you prosper in life, you want a bigger house, you want a bigger car and you want a bigger TV, which is the reality. I think online will complement television. People who miss Bigg Boss on TV can go and watch it on Voot. We have created this digital platform so that we are able to complement each other and so that the audience stays with us.

If we talk about your show Bigg Boss, it appears to be totally driven by the cult status of its celebrity host Salman Khan, is that good or bad for TV in the long run?
Salman Khan comes on only Saturdays and Sundays on Bigg Boss. Rest of the week he is not there and the show still does well and even better sometimes. But Salman Khan has become synonymous with Bigg Boss over a period of time. He loves the show and we love him and this has worked for the show. It is a win-win situation and we have continued with it.

Is there an overdose of TV reality shows in India today?
Firstly, I believe that reality as a genre will co-exist with fiction. Everybody is saying that Colors is betting too much on reality, but in fact it’s doing much lesser reality shows compared to other channels. Some channels are showing two reality shows on weekends and now everybody has gotten into it. Now Star has also started doing reality, Zee is also doing it and Sony is also doing it. However, what it has done to me is that it has taken all my costs up.

Have TV players in the sporting genre taken the big bucks away from GECs? I mean look at the recent big stakes in various sporting formats, is that a concern?
It is nothing new. Sports globally has always taken more money and it will continue to take more money. I was not surprised when Star bid Rs 16, 347.5 crore and got it. I think they got it at a very good rate and people may say that they have spent a lot of money but I believe they have done a fantastic job. And if you ask me, will Rs 16K crore take the money away? I think it is actually the opposite. In fact it is good for the industry because to earn Rs 16K crore they will have to charge spot rates which are higher. The benchmark of the entire industry will go higher and that is what is going to happen in the time to come.

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