We are a very safe destination for the advertiser: Neeraj Vyas, Sony SAB

Sony SAB’s Business Head on the channel's ‘Khushiyon Wali Feeling’ philosophy, life after TRAI’s New Tariff Order and why SAB is the right choice for brands

e4m by Shikha Paliwal
Updated: Jul 10, 2019 8:49 AM

Buoyed by strong growth numbers, Hindi Entertainment Channel Sony SAB has unveiled its new campaign with the tagline "Khushiyon wali feeling" pushing its role of a 'happiness enabler' further. Sony SAB, Business Head, Neeraj Vyas believes that it is time for brands, irrespective of who they are in the entertainment world, to stand for something.

“Because if you simply promise entertainment, it may not be enough. If you need to be chosen by a family, or by a few in the family, then you need to be relevant. We have been inherently lucky that we've always enjoyed the perception of SAB being a family channel. But I think in today's context, this promise had to be made in a way that would be very credible. I think a happy brand is something that a lot of people connect with,” he says.

Vyas adds that the channel has taken a strong call on only sticking to content fit for family viewing and shunned formats or genres followed by rival channels, despite their popularity amongst viewers. He says, “In the last six weeks our time spent is higher than anybody else in the Hindi space, including all the movie channels, including all the GECs because sometimes you have to back your instincts. Secondly, it sets you apart. Because I think a lot of sameness has happened to television, which is why I think the decision for us to not do what they're doing was pretty simple.”

Differentiation holds the key, post the New Tariff Order (NTO), believes Vyas.  If a viewer is paying for the channel then he clearly wants to watch content that is not run of the mill. Despite the initial NTO scare, he says the industry is now on the right track, “We were petrified you know, but it had to happen. Very honestly, I think subscription revenues and pay revenues are the way forward for everybody in the whole world. Entertainment works like that. The way it happened was not right. It happened in a hurry. It happened in haste. So yes, I think in hindsight, the implementation could have been better, we should have all been given probably a little more time to reorganize our life around it.”

But given the strong numbers that have emerged, Sony SAB sees no reason to complain. “So we were at 11 and a half percent market share pre NTO, we are now at 17 and a half percent now. I think we've grown the most compared to everybody else. That's how good it is. Our time spent was at 120 odd minutes per week, we are at a 160-170 minutes a week. Which is a top most, more than all GECs, more than all movie channels,” Vyas says.

And he is positive about the impact on advertising too, “I only hope positively .We’ve seen traction, but it's only six weeks. I think this is a story that's going to unfold very gracefully hopefully in the next few weeks. People see numbers, I think numbers speak for themselves. Very honestly, I don't think we have to hard sell anything. But my sense is that in the next quarter, because this quarter is already gone, we'll probably see at least a good 15 to 20 percent growth in the number of brands that we have on the channel. And the brands that we have on the channel will hopefully spend more because we are now a very safe destination for the advertiser. We are the steadiest when it comes to choice that the advertiser has to make for his brand.”

Welcoming Broadcast Audience Research Council India’s decision to split ratings of Pay and Free platforms, Vyas says, “Very honestly, I think it's great, because there'll be a lot of clarity, in terms of where the ratings are coming from. More importantly, from an advertiser's perspective, it will be a lot more precise in terms of the advertiser knowing what is he buying, for which brand is he buying, and at what price is he buying? I think for the planning and buying community and the advertiser community more than anybody else.”

Signing off with a promise of pure family viewing from the Sony SAB team, Vyas assures viewers that their favourite ‘Taarak Mehta Ka Oolta Chashmah' is here to stay, “Perhaps , forever,” he hopes.



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