No progress is possible without news: MK Anand, MD and CEO of Times Network at the UNYCC

Anand spoke at the United Nations Young Changemakers Conclave (UNYCC), held on October 27, 2018, in Mumbai on the topic, 'Reimagining News'

MKAnand

MK Anand, Managing Director and CEO of the Times Network delivered a speech at United Nations Youth Changemakers Conclave (UNYCC) held on October 27, 2018, in Mumbai, on the topic, 'Reimagining News'.

Below is his full speech:

Tonight, I will talk about 3 key issues that I think faces us all in the context of News. I am not going to discuss solutions. Just points that I think I would be concerned about even as an average citizen. I am just more aware of them due to my profession and feel they are of critical importance to all of us in society.

Human society is a gigantic mind. We hear about the approaching singularity of machines. I think that singularity already exists. The inter-connected social system that pervades all we do is, in reality, a gigantic mind. And everything it experiences is News. News connects the component individual minds and creates the essential homogeneity that is required for the universal mind to function. While education prepares the blank child mind to bring it on par with other component minds, News does the lifelong function of bringing us all up to speed with each other.

News enables us to participate, collaborate and innovate. No progress is possible without news. What is not news to you does not exist for you. And the corollary to that - what is made news for you becomes valuable. News as you can see is as important as air and water. I am stating the obvious here because I worry that it is not obvious to many of us in society. News is left to a very narrow bunch of us news professionals. There is little discourse about the news itself, even as there is an explosion of discourses on our channels and platforms about everything else in the name of daily news.

After a fairly long stable environment of almost 200 years, wherein news was centrally broadcast – as newspapers and then as radio and television, the last couple of decades saw a paradigm change.

I visualize traditional broadcasting as similar to a City’s water supply system. A central source and pumping system that pushes similar content to all households on the grid. Digital distribution, however, has a different mechanism. It operates more like an organic jungle system of watering holes –the data servers. Thirsty animals come to the source and drink what they want. There is no push. That’s replaced by ‘search and find’. So far, so good. It’s a new mechanism. News players could adapt quite easily. All of us have. And it works. Traditional broadcast brands such as CNN, Economist, Washington Post, Times of India, Times Now and NDTV continue to dominate the digital news space as they did in the past, proving that consumers reward dependable brands with their loyalty irrespective of medium.

The real challenge to the ecosystem however comes from other collateral changes this new mechanism has unleashed. And these constitute 2 of the 3 elephants in the room that I am going to talk about. These changes I must concede are not entirely negative. All that is needed is to understand their ramifications and view them through new lenses.

1. The Internet converts every device on it into a potential server. And without realizing, each one of us became a watering hole. With advances in cameras, speech and text software, editing and presentation software, our watering holes became interesting. And social media gave us a whole new set of wings. The positive side of this ability to publish is the opportunity it offers individuals to directly reach out to others, without the cumbersome and sometimes limiting filter of media platforms. Mass outreach is today possible without courting major media platforms. Donald Trump has 55 million followers on Twitter, which gives him the strength to brush aside global news brands. Narendra Modi’s social media reach is larger than the social media reach of the top 3 Indian Digital English News platforms – TOI, NDTV and Times Now put together. This obviously is a great source of power for these leaders. This strengthens democracy as it offers individuals immense potential. While the new medium comes with this major potential, there is a dark side to this. Most of us use this new power without complex intentions. The power however can be misused by vested interests. To manipulate or simply subvert. Fake news, deliberate and unintended has grave consequences. It’s all the more dangerous when we realise that the news consumer is still driven by an almost 200 years habit of trusting the published word. While publishing technology has leapfrogged, the same cannot be expected of the consumer brain. Branded media could lose its business, net worth and the shirt off its back if they did a hoax piece and got caught. What do anonymous social media jockeys have to lose? Worse still is the propagation by message apps, with no address of source. Regulation and consumer education has to urgently adapt. This is an elephant in the room that has been spotted and called out and hopefully will be corralled.

2. In the context of Digital news, the most critical issue besides fake news that needs to be confronted is the concentration of power and therefore potential threat that Search and Social intermediaries can pose. This probably is the biggest of the elephants in any room that discusses News. And it is not yet called out in the way it should be. As a News practitioner, I can tell you one thing. Ensuring that my news gets to your screen and not my competitor’s is not as simple as it looks. Behind your seemingly ‘in control’ act of choosing my channel and staying tuned, is a highly complex big data-driven activity. Your choice is always influenced by a series of invisible steps that broadcasters take in placement, distribution, visibility etc. And I am talking about traditional broadcast. We call it reach optimization. This power gets magnified when the medium through which you access my stories, the algorithms that decide which story to place in front of you when you search is owned and operated by monolithic, multinational corporations that may not be easily regulated by local laws. I am not blaming them of willful subversion at all. They have robust systems to ensure fair play. But concentrating power of this nature can have unintended disastrous consequences. Today search rules on such platforms can overnight change which News brand gets watched over others. A third-party platform that wields such absolute power that determines survival itself for News players can be dangerous to democracy.

3. The last point that I think needs examination is the excessive reliance of this business on ad revenue. This obviously matters only for what is called paid media – probably the most trustworthy and agenda-less amongst news operators. Ad revenue has been a traditional source of revenue for all media and has worked quite well at the social level too. But in the current highly fragmented and hyper-competitive environment, excessive reliance on ad sales for News pose some serious problems. This is more pronounced in the Indian context as western and more developed markets have a sizeable component of subscription revenue as news consumers are in the habit for paying for content. Advertisers always spend on what they consider important to their business. Their target groups are most times younger (for higher lifetime value) and economically capable (for obvious reasons). There is thus a young and rich bias in their selection. The corollary to this is no Content manager pursues TGs that are old and poor. This can over time lead to the exclusion of their interests in news media and disenfranchise large portions of population, specially in countries such as ours. While public broadcasters do work towards filling this gap, we need to develop a culture of paid subscriptions for news. Consumers need to become aware that news paid for by other and may not be in their interest in the long term.  

To circle back on the key issues that need thought and deliberation by all and not just us News professionals: 

1. Fake news is a social problem. While a lot is being done, this will pose serious threats for a long time as consumer habit of trusting published word is strong. We need to start providing consumers with mechanisms to cope.

2. Search and Social monopolies could pose risks to the industry as a whole. This is an evolving situation. We hope technology itself will provide the solution to this. The industry also needs to come together and approach this as a common problem.

3. Subscription culture needs to be developed for news products. This is in the larger interests of all constituents. News needs to be recognized as far more important and strategically impacting than it currently is. Marketing in this area is lacking and could be a solution.   I hope I have been able to give you some perspectives on reimagining news in the current environment. Your views and contributions are welcome. I am sure you can reach me on twitter or email that the organizers can direct you to. Thank you for being an attentive audience.

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Star Sports Select Dugout 2.0 to keep fans ahead of the game this VIVO IPL 2019

The Select Dugout will be aired on Star Sports Select 1 (SD and HD) providing fans with richer analytical experience coupled with a stimulating narrative during matches to stay ahead of the game

Select Dugout Experts VIVO IPL 2019

Star Sports, the official broadcaster for VIVO IPL 2019, today unveiled Star Sports Select Dugout 2.0 after last year’s massive success. The Select Dugout, will be aired on Star Sports Select 1 (SD and HD) providing fans with richer analytical experience coupled with a stimulating narrative during matches to stay ahead of the game.

The Select Dugout panel includes an exclusive and illustrious panel of experts including former captains’ coaches’ and mentors such as debutants Gautam Gambhir (also on Hindi commentary) Brendon McCullum (also on World Feed), Dale Steyn along with Dean Jones, Kumar Sangakkara, Scott Styris, Anil Kumble. Joining them will be Kevin Pietersen, Brett Lee and Graeme Smith who are also a part of the World Feed.

Star Sports Select has always believed in delivering exemplary coverage that goes beyond the usual to create an enhanced viewing experience for fans and with Select Dugout, VIVO IPL 2019 is being reimagined for cricket lovers who are passionate about the Game.

The Dugout, is a bespoke experience that will bring fans closer to the game than last year. Creating deeper fan engagement, the feed will provide detailed analytical commentary. The style and tone with which information will be presented will resonate highly among committed cricket purists. The Select Experience will use graphics and augmented reality (AR), and will also incorporate tweets from players creating a stimulating narrative for fans.

Commenting on the offering this year, Anil Kumble, former Indian cricketer and Select Dugout Expert said, “The advantage of the Select Dugout is that we are bringing in insights both as a player and as a coach and then reading the game as it progresses, and then probably predicting what is going on in the minds of the players; what the batsmen are thinking or what the bowler is thinking and what would be his reaction and try to bring that to the fans. I think that is something which will be very useful for all the viewers, not just them, but also for the players and the team to start thinking about their team and their strategies. We will have to bring in a bit more predictive element in the Select Dugout and perhaps bring in a bit more of analysis and in-depth information in our demo zones.”

Kumar Sangakkara, former Captain of the Sri Lanka cricket team and Select Dugout Expert said, “I think Select Dugout 2.0 has to evolve just like T20 does and keep pace with what the modern cricket fan really wants. Conversational tone of delivery, but in-depth analysis where they can listen and just get a glimpse of how cricketer’s minds work and what strategy and tactics look like, what technique looks like, how a game is set from play-to-play and what the set of play in the future can be because of the events that are happening now. It’s a wonderful fan connect, very enlightening insights and just expert analysis.”

Dean Jones, former Australian right-handed batsman and Select Dugout Expert said, “We have more players and technologies coming, along with new analytics and with that, I’m just trying to understand the players' trends and team trends. We are constantly changing the team, and I think we are getting bigger and better at this as well. We are already giving an informed narrative on how the games are going, we will also probably be a little more predictive and have a better understanding of how it works. The fact that we don’t have the commercial responsibilities as you do on world competitive dugouts, we can give out and give a little bit more understanding on how to play certain bowlers and how to bowl to certain batsmen. We’ve got the fielding pods and all the other technologies to use that we didn’t have before, so that would be great fun.”

Scott Styris, former New Zealand all-rounder and Select Dugout Expert said, “We are going to refine what we have been doing, last year was a learning curve for us all; we got better as we went along. So, we have a better understanding of what was expected of us. And as the tournament went on as well, we were able to get a better picture of what was going on, on the field which allowed us to tell stories about the action as the tournament progressed. We have now a full year of trends and the way teams operate so we can tell the stories a little better. We’ve got a couple of new gadgets as well to use to add on to it. So, I would like to think that we would be a little more polished about enriching the knowledge, enjoyment, and entertainment that the public has.”

This year, Star Sports aims to deliver a more successful and engaging commentary experience with Select Dugout. Fans can expect more demos, more graphics and more stats that will bring core fans closer to VIVO IPL.

The 12th edition of VIVO IPL starts on Saturday, March 23rd, 2019 with defending champions Chennai Super Kings take on Royal Challengers Bangalore.

NewsX lines up special election shows for the weekend

On NewsX - No Holds Barred there will be two different episodes on Saturday and Sunday

no holds

This weekend on NewsX - No Holds Barred there will be two different episodes on Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday, watch out for Tom Vadakkan, who recently joined hands with the BJP. During the episode, he will share his experience on joining the new party and his agendas for the forthcoming elections. 

On Sunday in another episode of NewsX - No Holds Barred, watch out for Santosh Desai who will share his views on “Brand Modi” and what brand Modi carries that his adversaries are missing. 

In this weekend episode of Legally Speaking, there will be an interesting discussion with  Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Member of Parliament, he will share the Congress party agenda for the upcoming general elections. 

This weekend on NewsX-The Sunday Guardian-The Roundtable, there will be an interesting discussion between Shahid Siddiqui, Former Member of the Rajya Sabha;  Smita Prakash, Editor, ANI; Ruben Banerjee, Editor, Outlook and Neerja Chowdhary, Columnist. These guests will share their views on the upcoming general elections and government policies. 
In the show Cover Story, there will be a special episode on Uttar Pradesh elections - Lucknow Diaries. Watch out for an interesting face-off between Udayveer Singh, MLC Samajwadi Party and Surendra Rajput, Senior Congress Leader on the role of the state of Uttar Pradesh in forming the government during the forthcoming general elections.       

Devotional channels see over 5-fold increase in viewership from 2016 to 2018 

The number of ad insertions, as per BARC data, has also risen with major advertisers for devotional channels being Patanjali Ayurveda Ltd, Wipro Ltd, Dish India TV and MDH Ltd

by Neethu Mohan
Published - 1 day ago
devotional

The viewership and ad insertions for devotional channels have seen a considerable increase in the 2016-2018 period, shows data from Broadcast Audience Research Council India (BARC).

In 2016, the number of devotional channels watermarked were just 3 with average weekly impressions of 22.2 million, as per BARC data, but the number rose to 11 with an average weekly impression of 97 million in 2017, and in 2018 there were 11 watermarked channels with a weekly impression of 119.8 million. 

The channels taken into consideration were Bhakti TV, CVR OM Spiritual, Disha TV, Divya, Hindu Dharmam, Prarthana, SAI TV, Sanskar, SVBC, and Vedic. 

Speaking on the rise in viewership of devotional channels, Arun S Nair, Vice President - Sales & Marketing (South) Insight Media City said, “The viewership rise can be attributed to two reasons. The distribution of the devotional channels has played a major role in improving their reach dramatically. Also, the deep pockets and their connect with service providers has enabled channel operators to be available on all the platforms.”

“The emotional connect with one’s religion is also one of the reasons behind the increase in viewership. In today’s fast-paced life, it is very important to connect with our culture and to gain knowledge about the customs and rituals. The devotional channels have succeeded in that by providing relevant content,” added Nair. 

According to Vineet Sodhani, CEO, Spatial Access, devotional channels have grown since the Free-to-Air (FTA) boom in 2016 when many new channels were launched and many that were paid turned FTA.

“Part of the growth also happened because BARC increased the sample and covered rural or semi-urban areas better which helped in the viewership growth of many such channels,” said Sodhani. 

Apart from the viewership rise, the 2016-2018 period has also witnessed a rise in total ad insertions. In 2016, the total ad insertions for devotional channels were 1,75,681; in 2017 the it jumped to 2,85,971, and in 2018 it was 3,88,273. 

The major advertisers for the devotional channels include Patanjali Ayurveda Ltd, Wipro Ltd, Dish India TV and MDH Ltd. 

On how advertising in devotional channels helps brands, Prateek Kumar, CEO & MD, NeoNiche said, “The content of devotional channels caters to the robust spiritual community across the globe, which experiences among other things, the live-streaming of some of the most visited religious places in India. They also participate in the actual 'darshan' through 360-degree videos. These channels explore the spiritual and devotional space by providing unique experiences to viewers through e-sermons, e-darshans and online offerings.”

According to BARC data, there is a growth in viewership of programmes related to yoga, meditation and spirituality, Kumar said. “There has been an increase in the number of urban youth and international followers of yoga and meditation tuning into these devotional channels. Most broadcasters and advertisers are becoming aware of this trend and brands in the area of personal care & hygiene, food & beverages, healthcare, health & lifestyle are latching on to this opportunity. What’s a better way to sell a Patanjali product to a global audience than through a TVC placed right before or after a yoga programme,” he asked.

According to Sachin Kumar, Founder, Bottle Openers, “Unlike GEC watching habits, the mindset of the audience of spiritual channels is completely belief-oriented and hence brands falling into categories like natural or herbal or Ayurvedic will have higher acceptability. One of the biggest successes we have seen in the past is Patanjali. Since spiritual channels are largely based on spiritual events, brands can turn the audience into advocates. Also, unlike millennials who get bored easily, this audience doesn't flip through channels and hence they tend to have higher receptiveness of the communication, which helps brands.” 

Talking about the other ways in which brands have been benefiting by placing ads in devotional channels, Prateek Kumar said: “Devotional channels offer a wide range of services for its audience like temple tourism, and access to japs, mantras, kathas, popular bhajans and holy books. Brands interested in target marketing, instead of trying to reach the mass market, can put their energy into connecting with a specific, defined group within that market. As per BARC, 77 per cent of TV viewers are in the age group of above 30. If segmented into right demographics, and psychographics and geography, it can help brands in cost-effective target marketing that will maximise the ROI on advertising budget since devotional channels are cheaper due to the waiver of broadcasting fee.”

Vinay Kanchan, Brand Storyteller, Innovation Catalyst and Author of ‘Sportivity’ says: “The ad rates offered by devotional channels are relatively economical. The clutter from other categories is a lot less. Brands advertising here have a stage where they can stand apart and make their point. Clients get ‘more blessings for their buck’ in a manner of speaking. Devotional channels help brands of a particular genre to truly engage their audiences. This association naturally makes sense for brands of  a certain kind, especially those with strong traditional Indian roots. 

"Consumers today expect their brands to mirror their own feelings and desires. Hence, for those spiritually inclined, seeing the brand on devotional channels they frequent only serves to strengthen bonds. This creates a deeper attachment which usually translates into sales. The opportunity also perhaps lies in creating specific narratives for these channels as they are unlike others in the media space in many respects. This makes sense because audiences are in an entirely different frame of mind when they switch to these channels.”

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ZEE Tamil brings the best of Tamil content to Malaysia exclusively on ZEE5

Subscribers can watch popular ZEE Tamil shows such as Sembaruthi, Yaaradi Nee Mohini, Poove Poochoodava as well as blockbuster movies including Mersal, Vadacurry, and Yaman

ZEE Tamil Malaysia Content

Recently launched streaming platform ZEE5 has officially announced that starting 1st April 2019, ZEE’s much-loved channel ZEE Tamil will stream exclusively on the platform for audiences across Malaysia. ZEE5 viewers will not only be able to live stream ZEE Tamil but also catch up on their favorite ZEE Tamil shows, anytime, anywhere.

Subscribers can watch popular ZEE Tamil shows such as Sembaruthi, Yaaradi Nee Mohini, Poove Poochoodava as well as blockbuster movies including Mersal, Vadacurry, and Yaman. They can also watch ZEE5 Tamil Originals like Kallachirupu (directed by Karthik Subbaraj) and D-7, Hindi Originals (also dubbed in Tamil) including The Final Call (Arjun Rampal) and Rangbaaz (Saqib Saleem), as well as Bollywood hits Simba (Ranveer Singh), Veere Di Wedding (Kareena Kapoor Khan) and Kedarnath (Sara Ali Khan, Sushant Singh Rajput) along with a host of other exciting content across genres.

Audiences can watch their favorite TV shows and select movies and videos absolutely free or choose from a range of highly affordable subscription packs, including the recently introduced Tamil pack at 9.9 MYR per month, for uninterrupted access to premium content.

Speaking on the development, Archana Anand, Chief Business Officer, ZEE5 Global said, “It is our constant endeavour to bring to our audiences across the globe the content they love in any language of their choice and on any device they want. With Malaysia being such a high priority market for ZEE5, we wanted to ensure that our audiences here had easy access to the best of Tamil content. ZEE Tamil has met with much success in Malaysia since its launch and we are thrilled to offer this content along with the best of Tamil Movies and Originals, exclusively on ZEE5.”

ZEE5 offers 100,000 hours of Indian Movies, TV Shows, News and Videos and a slew of exclusive Originals, across 12 languages - English, Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Bengali, Oriya, Bhojpuri, Gujarati and Punjabi. It also offers 60+ popular Live TV channels.

ZEE5 can be downloaded from Google Play Store/ iOS App Store and is also on www.ZEE5.com. The app is also available on Samsung Smart TV, Apple TV Android TV and Amazon Fire TV.

ZEEL launches exclusive campaign for its English cluster #WhereIsMyChannel

Featuring filmmaker Anurag Kashyap and percussionist Sivamani, the campaign encourages viewers to inform their cable operators about their choice of channels

ZEEL

With TRAI initiating the implementation of the MRP regime, consumers now have a choice to select the packs and channels that best meet their content needs. While the broadcasters are busy building their bouquets and communicating the prices to the viewers, Zee English Cluster has taken a rather differentiated route. The new insightful ad campaign #WhereIsMyChannel, encourages the viewers to choose their preferred channels and inform their cable operators. While the consumers are involved in their content choices, they often tend to postpone communicating with their cable operators. The campaign prompts for this necessary action, at a time when TRAI’s deadline for the implementation of MRP regime is just around the corner. The two entertaining ad films feature Bollywood filmmaker Anurag Kashyap and the percussion maestro Sivamani as viewers of - Zee Café and &flix.

Bringing some of the choicest films, dramas, news and lifestyle content for the Indian viewers, Zee Premium Cluster is the destination for a carefully curated collection of entertaining international content. With a powerful bouquet – Zee Prime English Pack - comprising &flix, Zee Café, LF and Wion, priced at an attractive Rs. 15/- per month, viewers are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to compelling TV shows and the biggest Hollywood hits, alongside international news, food and lifestyle content. For those who appreciate content that is compelling, &PrivéHD brings riveting, award-winning films that stimulate the mind and enthrall viewers. Bringing this world of nuanced cinema, Zee Prime English HD Pack comprising - &Privé HD, Zee Café HD, &flix HD, LF HD is priced at Rs 25/- making premium content more accessible.

What is also striking about the campaign is that it comes at an opportune time when Zee Café is going to launch a plethora of new shows like the iconic music reality show American Idol, the endurance-based reality show inspired and hosted by Dwayne Johnson – Titan Games and the final season of The Big Bang Theory. Not just this, &flix too has an exciting line-up of new blockbuster Hollywood films to be premiered in the coming few months.

With #WhereIsMyChannel campaign, Zee English Cluster attempts to throw light on the need to inform the cable operators for your content choices. The first TVC shows Anurag in his residential society where he inadvertently bumps into his cable operator. Anurag is seen rather disheartened as he has been missing some of the biggest Hollywood hits on his favourite movie channel - &flix. Puzzled, the cable operator is caught completely unaware of Anurag’s content tastes, since he sees Anurag as a Hindi filmmaker. The film breaks into the broadcaster driving home the message - ‘Your Cable Operator May Not Really Know You.’ so inform him of your pack choice.

The film with Sivamani revolves around a similar encounter with his cable operator as he is unable to view the latest episodes of American Idol on Zee Café. The cable operator is unaware of Sivamani’s interest in music which leads to.

Prathyusha Agarwal, Chief Marketing Officer, ZEEL, said, “The discerning urban English consumer is highly involved in their content choices. However, selecting their channel packs is new behavior that they are currently not used to. Through this communication, our objective was to nudge them towards becoming more active in informing the cable operator of their channel pack choice. We also wanted to bring alive our insight that the “Cable Operator May Not Really Know You” and hence inform him of your pack choice.”

The campaign was conceptualized and executed by Zee English cluster, along with their creative partner for this campaign - tiqui-taka.

Sharing his views on conceptualizing the campaign, Jigar Fernandes, Founder, tiqui-taka, said, “We changed the lens and saw the cable guy's point of view. How will he ever know what channels you like? We stayed with this for a while before we finally cracked it by bringing in the expert celeb angle - if a cable guy can misjudge a well-known celebrity, it could happen to anyone. We took a shuddh desi Hindi script for a premium English channel. And Zee was cool enough to embrace it! The one with Mr. Sivamani followed later.”

Dish TV India Ltd to unveil ‘Bharat Cricket Combo’ & ‘Value Combo’

‘Bharat Cricket Combo’ on DishTV and ‘Value Combo’ on D2h will be available at Rs 1,270 and Rs 1,292 plus taxes for three months respectively

dishTV

Dish TV India Limited is set to announce ‘Bharat Cricket Combo’ on DishTV and ‘Value Combo’ on D2h for cricket lovers at Rs 1,270 and Rs 1,292 plus taxes for three months respectively. 

This has stirred up the entire market and led to doubling of new customer acquisitions and tripling of win-backs over the last few days.
 
Under this offer, the company is offering ‘India Cricket Service’ on DishTV & ‘India Cricket’ on D2h, which is an add-on/service along with FTA channels and popular Hindi channels ranging from infotainment, drama, devotional, news, music and movies. India Cricket Service is an advance request based add-on/service, which telecasts all the three formats (ODI, T20 and Test matches) of Indian men’s cricket team matches. Furthermore, customers can opt for more add-ons and bouquet services as per their choices including Set Top Box and free installation only.
 
Anil Dua, Group CEO, Dish TV India Limited said, “In continuation of our efforts to provide maximum entertainment to the customers at affordable prices, we are delighted to announce very attractive offers on both our brands for cricket enthusiasts. The new offers are aimed at offering hassle-free cricket viewing experience along with mass entertainment and movie channels. We hope to acquire new customers from the rural markets and Hindi language speaking areas.”

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We can now look at flourishing subscription revenue: Nina Elavia Jaipuria, Viacom 18

Nina Elavia Jaipuria, Head – Hindi Mass Entertainment & Kids TV Network, Viacom 18, tells us about the decision to remove Rishtey and Rishtey Cineplex from Free-Dish and add them to 'Colors Wala Pack'

Nina Elavia Jaipuria

Viacom 18 recently moved Rishtey and Rishtey Cineplex out of Free Dish and absorbed it under the Colors' umbrella as pay channels. It is one of the major movements that happened after the new tariff order came into being. From March 1, the channels were rebranded as Colors Rishtey and Colors Cineplex. The aim is to establish themselves as a premium entertainment destination.

Speaking to exchange4media during the launch of the third season of Rising Star, Nina Elavia Jaipuria, Head – Hindi Mass Entertainment & Kids TV Network, Viacom18 explained why it was a conscious decision and how this will help them flourish subscription revenue.

Jaipuria explains, "It is a very conscious decision. The NTO has made a lot of us rethink our business models. We wanted to figure out what would be the best step forward for a broadcaster from the Hindi mass entertainment genre. There were a couple of reasons why we moved out of Free Dish. If you are FTA, it is a very difficult mechanism to survive and difficult to be carried. To me, it is like the FMCG model. If you are not in the shop, you are not to be bought. Similarly, you have to be on the cable or set-top box for you to be watched. That itself was challenging for FTA channels to be carried on the platform. To my mind, there is a lot of equity and value that has been driven into the ecosystem of the distribution, and transparency as well. Which means now we can actually look at flourishing subscription revenue. That was one of the other reasons why we decided to take Rishtey out of Free-Dish and make it a hardcore pay channel and optimise the monetisation. And what happens with that is that we are able to put back great content on the channel because of monetisation. Great content gives us ratings and great ratings give us advertising revenues. In this way, we monetise ad-sales as well as the subscription model."

Expanding further on why re-branding it with Colors made sense, she explained, "Colors was the most logical choice because it is a go-to consumer brand. It has an identity and perception with the consumer today. The moment you know it is under the Colors umbrella, there is a certain brand association and therefore it made utmost sense for us. It is our brand for Hindi adult entertainment for Viacom. So we decided all the channels should be under the brand umbrella named Colors. It was a very simple decision. It was our only foray into the movie genre. It also helps in the other perspective that, now we can premiere movies on the channel. and we have a whole lot of big movies coming up from the Viacom 18 stable. The FPC will look fresher because we don't have to wait for a year to put our content back.

Colors Cineplex has acquired the most anticipated films of the year such as Brahmastra, Student of the Year 2, RAW, Drive, The Body, Thackeray, Fraud Saiyaan and many more. The line-up also includes Hindi dubbed versions of blockbuster regional films like Mani Ratnam’s Chekka Chivantha Vaanam (Tamil), Kadaikutty Singam (Tamil), Kavacham (Telugu), Junga (Tamil), Charlie Chaplin (Tamil) and Seetharam Kalyana (Kannada) - all these apart from their huge library of movies.

When asked if a move like this will affect viewership, Jaipuri informs, " We have to admit that there will be millions of households who were watching this on Free-dish are not going to get it. At the same time, both these channels are available on our 'Colors Wala Pack' which is 22 channels Rs 1/day. Automatically, it will make it to the millions of households who will pay. So if we lose some, we will gain a lot as well."

The lines between curator, creator and consumer have blurred today: Sudhanshu Vats

At FICCI Frames 2019, the Group CEO & MD of Viacom18 talks about the changes that the media & entertainment industry has seen

VatsMain

On Day 1 of FICCI Frames 2019, Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO & MD, Viacom18, was in conversation with Anant Goenka, Executive Director, Indian Express Pvt. Ltd, during a session titled ‘Looking back as we move ahead’.

The burning question that came out to dominate this conversation was ‘does the industry even realise how to and what to evolve to?’

Following is a round-up of the session:

Vats began by stating that a lot has changed in the industry for the better. He went on to state, from the content space, the first thing that has changed, irrespective of the platforms, is that the industry has moved away from broadcast to microcast online. The industry has moved from beaming things to having more conversations, making things more interactive.

According to him, the second most important change led by technology is that it isn’t necessary to tell stories to everyone, rather tell it to limited number of people and tell it successfully. 2018 has seen films target certain audience and these films performed exceedingly well in spite of not being blockbusters such as Andhadhun, Badhai Ho, etc.

The third and most interesting thing he pointed out to is the changes and differences between curator, creator and consumer. It used to be much simple to differentiate between these three in the past but today the lines have completely blurred. And this is also followed by audiences across, where audiences have also become content curators.

While reiterating the fact that the industry is experiencing many important changes, he states a welcoming change is the narration of diverse stories in a classical content sense.

He stated that because the TV model is an ad driven model, telling stories in the authentic manner has become a little difficult as compared to the past as it’s driven by ratings. He noted that while playing with the original story, many a times the industry is taking away from the story. He stressed, importance must be given here and that the focus must be on the ability to tell stories which will eventually sell rather than looking at only selling the stories.

Speaking about ‘formula’ as a safety net, Vats believes that formula works as a safety net at some level.

With minds being patterned in a particular format, and sometimes from the commercial point of view, one must believe in intuition. With reference to the western world, he added that the media industry in the West follows a pattern format leading to success.

Sudhanshu Vats believes that there will be a lot of custom use in the story and segmentation in the audience. According to him, there will be a set of audience that will love, and there will be one that doesn’t. But in the future, it won’t matter as every story can reach its audience and every audience their story.

The session ended on the note that the future can be rafted only from lessons learnt in the past. The media industry is in interesting times today, as it witnesses a disruptive process of embracing change to redefine itself for the future.

TV news viewership soaring by the day, election season will add to numbers: Experts

It is interesting how even regional channels like ABP Ananda got unprecedented traction, says Avinash Pandey, CEO, ABP News Network

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Even with the advent of digital platforms, news channels unlike the popular belief haven’t lost their importance, say industry experts. The last one year has been a year of tremendous growth for news channels in terms of viewership. 

On several occasions, like on March 1 – the day IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman returned to India from Pakistan – the viewership of several news channels surpassed that of general entertainment channels. This trend is expected to grow further this year, thanks to the election season which is just round the corner.

“It has been a very news year. News channels that are credible, trustworthy and accepted as a brand that people love got their share of success from that. Brands like ours leveraged on the year being an eventful one and it is interesting how even regional channels like ABP Ananda got unprecedented traction,” said Avinash Pandey, CEO, ABP News Network.

According to Pandey, the coming year will be even bigger with the poll season getting interesting by the day. “Polls are going to be bigger than any other event this year, even than the IPL. The counting day for instance will be the record-breaking day for news channels. Polls this year will be the biggest match played and news channels will gain from it. There will be at least 15-20 per cent growth in revenue. Even if we compare the number of advertisements to revenue, growth will be anywhere between 30 and 35 per cent,” Pandey added.

Coming to the numbers, according to BARC, the gross impression in 000s for Aaj Tak in Week 8 of February during the Pulwama attack stood at 16,92,976 and the following week when Abhinandan returned to India it was 22,66,082. In the same two weeks, ABP News clocked 3,02,678 and 4,62,693 gross impression in 000s. 

Other news channels too followed suit. Republic Bharat for instance stood at 1,41,681 gross impressions in the 8th week of February and in the 9th week it grossed 2,19,345 impressions. 

“News is the biggest form of entertainment in the country after Bollywood and cricket in India and this year it is going to top the chart leaving the other two behind. On days of tension between India and Pakistan or the arrest of a movie star, people always turn to news channels because on such occasions news is where most of the entertainment is,” said a leading media analyst who did not wish to be named.

For media agencies it is only but natural to have news channels peak in terms of viewership given the amount of news that has taken place in the recent times. 

Explaining how viewership peaked with Pulwama attacks, Anita Nayyar, CEO - India & South East Asia, Havas Media Group, said: “An India-Pakistan match gets mad viewership. It was a war-like situation with strikes followed by the captivity of Abhinandan. It was also a very high tension time for both the countries. It is nothing new, it has happened in the past. Whenever a topical event happens, there has been a surge of viewership.” 

“As it is these channels have niche viewership. Given that the whole country was living on the edge watching what was happening, it is very logical that the Hindi news channels saw higher viewership. Looking forward, the elections will happen back to back and that's a huge genre which also adds to aggressiveness of news channels,” Nayyar added.

So, what were the highlights of 2018 and the two and half months of the new year that made news channels score high on viewership? Other than the Pulwama attack and Abhinandan’s capture and return, the other incidents which hogged the maximum limelight were Salman Khan’s black buck case verdict in the 14th week of 2018, followed by Karnataka elections in the 29th week of the last year. This was followed by the no-confidence motion in the 29th week of 2018 and Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s demise and the assembly poll results of six states.  

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M&E industry grew by 13% to reach Rs 1.67 trillion in 2018: EY-FICCI Frames Report

While television retained its position as the largest segment, growth is expected to come from digital which will overtake filmed entertainment in 2019 and print by 2021

FICCIFrames

The Indian Media and Entertainment (M&E) sector reached Rs 1.67 trillion (US$23.9 billion) in 2018, a growth of 13.4% over 2017, states the EY-FICCI report ‘A billion screens of opportunity,’ launched on Tuesday at the FICCI Frames 2019 in Mumbai.

With its current trajectory, the M&E sector in India is expected to cross Rs 2.35 trillion (US$33.6 billion) by 2021, at a CAGR of 11.6%. While television retained its position as the largest segment, growth is expected to come from digital which will overtake filmed entertainment in 2019 and print by 2021. The report captures key insights from the exciting and fast-growing Indian M&E sector.  

The sector continues to grow at a rate faster than the GDP, reflecting the increasing disposable income and economic growth. India has the second highest number of internet users after China with 570 million internet subscribers growing at 13% annually. The report estimates that approximately 2.5 million consumers in India today are digital only and would not normally use traditional media. It is expected that this customer base will to grow to 5 million by 2021. Traditional media companies spent 2018 building their customer data through second-screen interactive propositions, polls, house-to-house surveys, integration of third-party data, etc. Digital consumption will grow, and monetization avenues will see great innovation to cater to the new Indian customer segments. Telco bundling will drive consumption for a majority of Indian OTT audience. Advertising growth outpaced subscription growth and is expected to comprise 52% of the total pie by 2021.

Talking about the findings, Ashish Pherwani, Partner and Media & Entertainment Leader, EY India, stated, “The M&E sector has a significant opportunity given India’s young demographics. The growth of digital infrastructure is further enabling Indians to fulfil the need for personal content consumption, across languages and genre. There is a large shift in consumer behaviour from mass produced content to specific content defined to audience segments. The sector has an opportunity to serve a billion screens in India and globally.”

Uday Shankar, Vice President, FICCI and Chair, FICCI Media and Entertainment Division, said, “The Indian M&E sector is entering a phase of accelerated growth. The status quo is being shattered by digital disruptions and that’s unshackling the creative economy in India like never before. These are exciting times for all it is to let our imagination and ambition guide us.”

Key findings

Television
The TV industry grew from Rs 660 billion to Rs 740 billion in 2018, a growth of 12%. TV advertising grew 14% to Rs 305 billion while subscription grew 11% to Rs 435 billion. Television viewing households increased to 197 million, which is a 7.5% increase over 2016. Regional advertising growth outpaced national adverting growth on the back of national brands spending more to develop non-metro markets where GST created a level playing field between national and regional brands.  77% of time spent on television was on general entertainment content and film channels. 

Key insights - Broadcasters have started combined selling of ads across OTT and linear platforms to enable better monetization of marquee properties and increased utilization of digital inventory. The impact of the TRAI Tariff Order can have implications on total viewership, free television uptake, channel MRP rates and advertising revenues. However, 2019 promises further growth due to the elections and the ICC World Cup. The television segment can reach INR 955 billion by 2021, with advertising growth at 10% and subscription growth at 8%.

Print 
Print accounted for the second largest share of the Indian M&E sector, despite being static and growing at 0.7% to reach Rs 305.5 billion in 2018. Advertising revenues stood at Rs 217 billion and subscription revenues grew marginally by 1.2% to Rs 88.3 billion in 2018. Newspaper advertising de-grew 1% while magazine advertising fell 10%. The fall in advertising is due to both reduced ad volumes as well as pressure on effective rates. Hindi newspaper publications continued to lead with 37% of total ad volumes, while the share of English publications stood at 25%. Rising newsprint prices and a depreciation in the value of the Indian Rupee led to pressure on print sector margins in 2018.

Key insights – 2018 witnessed a 26% growth in digital news consumers over 2017 when 222 million people consumed news online. Page views grew 59% over 2017 and average time spent increased by almost 100% to 8 minutes per day in 2018. Print companies will tilt their sales pitch towards performance, linking physical space sales with digital inventory, activations (both physical and digital), interactive concepts like QR codes, digital couponing, etc. This will provide increased consumer data as well as a competitive plank to grow share of print.

Films
The Indian film segment grew 12.2% in 2018 to reach Rs 174.5 billion driven by the growth in digital/ OTT rights and overseas theatricals. All sub-segments, except home video grew. Domestic film revenues crossed Rs 100 billion with Net Box Office collections for Hindi films at Rs 32.5 billion – the highest ever for Hindi theatricals. Overseas theatricals grew to Rs 30 billion from Rs 25 billion in 2017 where China became the largest international market for Indian content. 98 Hollywood films were released in 2018 as compared to 105 in 2017. The box office collections of Hollywood films in India (inclusive of all their Indian language dubbed versions) was Rs 9.21 billion. Multiplexes drove up the screen count to 9,601, though single screens continued to reduce.

Key Insights:

Digital rights redefined the content consumption processes as the segment grew from Rs 8.5 billion to Rs 13.5 billion. Online platforms invested heavily in exclusive film rights and a digital-only film market has emerged. In-cinema advertising grew to Rs 7.5 billion in 2018 on the back of growing multiplex screens. Thirteen Hindi films entered the coveted Rs100 crore club in 2018, which is the highest ever. The digital only film market came into existence in 2018.

Digital media:
In 2018, digital media grew 42% to reach Rs 169 billion. Infrastructure propelled the growth in digital consumption. Digital ad spends grew 34% to Rs 154 billion and now contribute around 21% of the ad market. Digital subscription grew 262% to reach Rs 14 billion. Video subscription revenues almost grew three times in 2018 to reach Rs 13.4 billion, on the back of new and relaunched video streaming platforms, growth of smartphones, spread of affordable broadband, regional language content, exclusive content and live streaming of major cricket and other impact properties.

Key insights: Digital subscription reached Rs14 billion primarily due to telco bundling of content with their data plans to drive sales of data packs. The number of wireless subscribers grew from 1,167 million in December 2017 to 1,171 million in November 2018. This growth primarily came from rural subscribers who grew from 499 million to 526 million in the same period. Up to 60% of video viewership volumes were generated by telcos and the amount spent by them on acquiring content for their subscribers was Rs 3.5-4 billion

Mergers and Acquisitions in M&E
The India M&E sector witnessed an interesting mix of deal activity in 2018 both on the traditional as well as the new media front. The number of deals in M&E in 2018 remained the same at around 40 though the deal value more than doubled in 2018 to US$2.8 billion from US$1.3 billion in 2017. 41% of deals were in the digital segment in 2018, compared to 30% of deals in 2017 while deals in the gaming segment came next with 20% of the deals. The digital segment has been at the forefront of deal activity as India’s demographic dividend in the form of smartphone users, internet penetration and improving bandwidth continues to grow exponentially. The consolidation wave in the M&E sector is expected to accelerate and continue as large media corporates strengthen their presence for achieving scale, reach and relevance. The sector is also gaining huge interest from global strategic players who want to be part of the rapid growth in this sector, on the back of greater availability of data.

Please click here to read the complete report.

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