Manorama Max has grown independently from television: PR Satheesh, MMTV

Satheesh, COO of MMTV speaks to e4m about the growth of group’s OTT platform Manorama Max, challenges that lay ahead for the network and plans for the industry post COVID-19

e4m by Simran Sabherwal
Published: May 5, 2020 8:16 AM  | 4 min read
PR Satheesh

With the uptake in content consumption, PR Satheesh, Chief Operating Officer, MMTV says that the group’s OTT platform, Manorama Max has grown independently from television. He also believes that all the stakeholders in the ecosystem will have to collectively work together to tide over the challenges ahead. In a conversation with e4m, he speaks about the challenges that lay ahead for the network and the plans ahead for the industry after the COVID-19 crisis settles. 

There has been an exponential growth in news consumption during the lockdown period. Where is the surge coming from for Manorama News?

The surge in television viewership is coming from all across as people are consuming more content on television. There was a dramatic increase in viewership during the first week of lockdown; the curve has flattened now as there has been a marginal dip. However, the viewership is stable and there hasn’t been much fluctuation over the last couple of weeks. It is about three to four times higher than a normal week when one would consume news content.

How has repeat programming impacted viewership of your GEC, Mazhavil Manorama?

We had original content on the Mazhavil Manorama channel till early April. Since then, we had to resort to repeats and movies. The Southern market, including Kerala, is largely movie-driven. We’ve been fortunate to get a good 30% to 40% uptake in our numbers in comparison to four weeks ago. Our movie library and smart scheduling of content, especially comedy, seem to be working along with sitcoms. We now have original programming with our recently launched show, ‘Snehathode Veetil Ninnu’. This is a chat show, shot on the mobile, where the anchor at home interviews celebrities, mostly musicians, who can sing and play an instrument and this makes the show livelier.  

This increased viewership has come at a time when channels, particularly news channels, are unable to leverage it….

I don't think anybody is in a position to increase their ad rates. If people have managed to maintain their ad rates as it was before Covid-19 that will be a great achievement. News is pretty static and we have not sought any increase in ad rates. The news inventories have dropped a bit but compared to GEC, news inventory has not dropped as much. The requirement for GEC is low but we have maintained the ad rates.

What’s been the growth for your OTT platform, Manorama Max that was launched last September?

Since its launch, Manorama Max has seen growth and continues to do so. In the last few weeks, we have seen the platform has grown because people are at home. The growth we got was expected and is also organic. However, the advertising volumes are not looking great at this point in time. We are optimistic that it will pick up. There's no shift of audience for us. Television and OTT have grown independently. No one medium has gained from the loss of the other.

How has Ningalkkum Aakaam Kodeeshwaran performed?

Ningalkkum Aakaam Kodeeshwaran has done very well for us both from a brand perspective and overall reach. We reached over 100 million impressions just for this show during the season. On the OTT side - Manorama MAX got a good uptake with "Play along" and helped garner greater subscriber base.

The show was earlier on a competing network and we brought the show back to Kerala after a gap of almost four years. We invested far more into the content and we were very clear that we wanted the same look and feel as the Hindi version, Kaun Banega Crorepati and even had the same anchor, Suresh Gopi. The advertisers and viewers were happy, and that’s why we got the numbers that we did.

What will be the key challenges going ahead?

The challenges are plenty. I believe that all the stakeholders in the ecosystem - our clients, agencies, partners, vendors, suppliers – have to collectively work with each other. A collaborative effort with every single partner will take us through these challenges. If every one of us understands each other’s pain and accordingly reorients ourselves in the contracts and pricing and so on so forth, we'll get through this period.

Looking ahead, how do you see things panning out for the industry post-COVID-19?

It's not going to be a quick recovery for sure. This quarter will be challenging. We do hope that by the time we get closer to the festival season in Kerala, things will look up. At the same time, companies have to sell the products, they have manufactured, and they will have to come back to advertising. We just need to wait and watch. It's too early to predict or do a hypothesis.

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