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PMAR 2018: The future of television is television: Sudhanshu Vats, Viacom18

16-February-2018
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PMAR 2018: The future of television is television: Sudhanshu Vats, Viacom18

At the 16th edition of Pitch Madison Advertising Report 2018 presented by ABP, Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO, Viacom 18, reiterated the fact that linear television is here to stay given the growth opportunities, in the session called ‘Is the end of TV near?’

Vats felt it was quite a paradox for him to talk about this topic, given the fact that currently 85 per cent of Viacom18’s revenues comes from television and less than 5 per cent from digital. Having said that, he has a different plan for the future. “Our resource allocation for investment and growth in future is 50 per cent to digital and 50 per cent in television,” he said.

Also, what works for India is the fact that it's an ‘and’ market which is in some ways good news for many leaders in India as sometimes they need to make the hard choice to pick one over another like in other parts of the world. Vats reaffirmed, “India continues to be an 'and' market because of its heterogeneity, diversity, stratification and evolution in different stages.”

If one looks at the growth pattern for a slightly longer period, each and every segment of media and entertainment in India is growing, as pointed out by Vats. “2017 was a slightly sobering year but even then, all segments have grown. If you look at long term period, TV is growing in that zone and is marginally ahead at 16 per cent. Digital is indeed growing rapidly. Print is also growing as there is scope in vernacular. Overall there is growth. These numbers continue to highlight ‘and’ as a strategy,” he said.

Vats went on to explain why there is considerable runway for television in India. He added, “There are 240 million people living without electricity in the country. We all know that the first gadget that comes to the house when they have good electricity and slightly more income is television. That is not changing.”

He said, “If you look at the number of hours spent according to BARC, it’s 3 hr 9 mins. US is about six hours. Urban number is four hours plus. Rural number is 2 hour 9 minutes. As the country progresses and we get power in every nook and corner of the country, the average viewership in rural India (with availability of time) will catch up to urban and actually beat urban India. So average viewership of the country should go up to four hours plus.”

Vats also pointed out that advertising spends are very low. “With 18 per cent population contributing to our 17 per cent GDP, there is so much head room for advertising in the country. Also we are highly under branded as a country,” he said.

Also he felt that business owners are unhappy with progress i.e. subscription income. “If you look at the subscription revenue, it's very low in our country but that's the blessing in disguise. What was a bane will be soon be a boon for television. At Rs. 200 for 300 channels, nothing makes the subscription model for digital stick. For the low-income Indians and also overall, that is linear television which is staple and here to stay in the foreseeable future,” he said.  
He insisted on the significant role of television in our lives. He explained, “There will be close to 250 mn television homes in this country; there will be a viewership of 4.5 hours in this country. I think the future of television is television. Vats continued, “Having said that, do we need to adapt when things change a little bit? Would linear television continue to remain and would that be enjoyed? The answer is 'yes' because of the role it plays for family entertainment, high and live entertainment which can be enjoyed with the quality of television going up. This is something that is unparalleled. The question to be asked needs to be 'Is television resilient'? Will television adapt? Well, the television we like is here to stay.”

Tags Pitch Madison Report Sudhanshu Vats Viacom 18

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