Steep rise in online viewership opens new opportunity for channels

A 45% increase in online viewership opens up another lucrative market for b'casters as they gear up to aggressively seed more content online

e4m by Synjini Nandi
Updated: Apr 29, 2013 8:11 PM
Steep rise in online viewership opens new opportunity for channels

In order to be relevant to the diverse audience base, broadcasters are looking at various avenues to connect with the multi-tasking population of India today. With digital platform making its presence felt in different avatars, channels are keen to leverage their content on it with greater vigour. exchange4media takes a look at some of the innovative activities on the digital platform undertaken by the players in the Hindi GE space in order to create more touch-points.

Earlier where traditional media platforms such as television, print, etc. formed a major share of the marketing spends, digital and social media platforms today have also become significant part of the media plan. It has been observed that today Hindi GECs allocate around 22 per cent to 30 per cent of their marketing spend on digital and social media platforms.

Innovative digital apps
With live engagement being one of the significant elements that channels are looking for, Star Plus has created applications for Apple, Blackberry, Android and Nokia where people can interact, chat with the judges and read blogs while watching MasterChef India.

Auditions, which were earlier only limited to on-ground activities, have further been extended to the digital platform. Sony Entertainment Television has opened audition for Indian Idol Junior online and through it parents can also now register their child online and upload their performance videos through the app to be shortlisted for an audition in front of the judges.

In order to create buzz about their show, Zee TV has launched India’s Best Dramebaaz app, which is available on all key digital platforms such as iOS, Android, Blackberry and Symbian. As a part of mobile innovation, Zee TV converted the original mobile app created for DID Season three into apps for each successive season of its ongoing non-fiction shows, thereby retaining its original user base, while adding more users with each new season. In addition to keeping the tech-savvy youth connected with their favourite shows, the app provides users with exclusive behind-the-scenes peeks into the shows, connecting them with contestants, judges and skippers.

Colors also launched a Bigg Boss application on Android and IOS platforms enabling viewers round the clock live access into the Bigg Boss house as well as live updates, quiz and polls, unseen videos from the Bigg Boss house, option to post on Facebook and Twitter along with spoiler alerts.

Online television content consumption
According to a KPMG report, online viewership has witnessed significant traction in India, growing at 45 per cent between December 2011 and December 2012. Online television content consumption is expected to mirror this trend and broadcasters are catching up to expand presence across digital platforms such as online portals, video platforms and mobile applications.

Recently, Multi Screen Media (MSM) launched a new Video-on-Demand service, Sony LIV, which enables viewers to view shows from the Sony stable, including Sony Entertainment Television, SAB TV and Max. Apart from enabling viewers to view current shows, Sony LIV also gives viewers a chance to watch past episodes from the programming archives on LIV Classics.

The Sony LIV application is available globally for free and can be downloaded on major app stores such as iTunes and Google Play (Android). This will facilitate viewers to get their daily dose of entertainment on the go on their smart phones, tablets or desktops/ laptops.

It may be recalled that STAR India had launched Star Player a few years ago, which is the online video destination for premium copyrighted content from the Star Network shows and news to other web original content. This has seen an 80 per cent hike in viewership over the last six months, with 70 per cent of return viewers. Zee TV has Ditto TV, which has more than 50 channels across broadcasters and has observed more than 100,000 downloads since its launch in February 2012.

Viacom18, too, has brand specific online platforms, which house live and VOD services.

Apart from these initiatives, channels have also undertaken various other activities on the digital platform, which include creating independent channels on YouTube, creating short snippets of their shows on YouTube and so on, as well as web premieres of their shows, such as ‘Saraswatichandra’, which observed a special worldwide web premiere.

Limiting factors
Though the buzz is strong around digital media today, there are certain areas of concern as well. According to experts, most of the broadcasters’ effort on digital today is limited to creating marketing buzz, especially during show launches and promotions. Digital platforms have to communicate with the viewers everyday just as television does. Also, since the digital platform provides an opportunity for a two-way connection, the connection would be much stronger and deeper compared to the other mediums.

Though mobile TV is a very interesting concept, the question remains as to whether mobiles or tablets will become the primary screen. While for certain genres such as news and sports, this consumption could be high, for linear entertainment content, mobile and tablets will remain secondary screens.

The third factor that is of high significance is investing in aggregating audiences on digital platforms and communities, since the numbers are still small at present, though they are growing very rapidly. Channelising energy and resources to streamline audience attention in a more efficient manner would need to be done in order to increase digital penetration across different markets.

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