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Flashback 2014: I don't think the online video industry should be viewed as a threat: Sangeetha Aiyer

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Flashback 2014: I don't think the online video industry should be viewed as a threat: Sangeetha Aiyer

The year 2014 has had many developments in the television broadcast Industry whether it was digitization or the implementation of BARC. However, one of the trends that stood out the most was the industry taking steps in the digital platform front, especially by some players. Sangeetha Aiyer, VP & Head Marketing, A+E Networks TV18 talks about the emerging trends she saw in 2014 and things to come, as told to exchange4media’s Collin Furtado.   

TV Broadcast industry in 2014

I think one of the biggest challenges comes from the emergence and growth of various models possible through the internet. The past few years have seen the transformation of many content related industries from music to publishing and most broadcast professionals believe the TV industry will undergo a metamorphosis of sorts in a similar manner to other content driven media.

The contours of this new change are still taking shape and the entire ecosystem is in a transition phase, particularly taking into account factors like digitization and now 4G. These factors have had a huge impact on the way audiences consume information and content. Whether the advertiser will continue to pay for it or the subscriber, it is difficult to say because the answer is linked to how the industry will evolve - we will follow the eyeballs.

Broadcasters should look at the growth of the online video industry as an opportunity to effectively target and reach a broader audience. It is only a threat if channels refuse to adapt to this trend and create content that viewers would like to watch on demand. Regarding the debate about whether videos made available online will cannibalize eyeballs from the TV, I don’t think the online video industry should be viewed as a threat. Ultimately, one has to create an ecosystem that unites online and on-air elements.

Genre specific developments during 2014

Since its premiere, ‘Pawn Stars’ has redefined factual entertainment, emerging as the top performer not just on HISTORY TV18, but in the entire genre. We were always in the Indian market for the long haul. This show is part of the ‘Artifactual’ sub-genre, which has finally come of age and spawned an entire sub-genre of shows where hard cash is made from old/used antiques and collectibles. This category also gives an insight into the core ethos of India where ‘jugaad rules’ and making ‘cash from trash’ finds resonance amongst middle India. It is also a reflection of the young hungry India out there who is yearning to break the shackles of the old and herald a new prosperous beginning. 

I  think the genre is beginning to make its mark in Indianized content. From this I mean in the past, we have seen a lot of globalized content being dubbed in Hindi and other regional languages and served to audiences here. The genre is beginning to question this model and experiment with localized content. HISTORY TV18 did its bit by premiering ‘Vital Stats of India’ – a unique endeavour to showcase India’s story through numbers.

Every study shows that consumption of content is shifting beyond television. In order to remain relevant to the way audiences consume content and stay ahead of competition, HISTORY TV18 launched the first second-screen app in the factual entertainment genre. Through a novel innovation, viewers can see their chats live on TV via a ticker, taking viewer engagement to the next level and allowing them to connect with all other fans watching the same show in real time. What’s more, when viewers are unable to tune-in to our channel, we have put the TV in their hands with the introduction of our live-streaming feature.

The app has a user interface that is very flexible, providing a great platform to connect with other viewers and also the channel. It’s a dream come true for any marketer and programmer since you are directly talking to your viewers on your own platform. So in a sense, it takes viewer empowerment to a whole new realm. We are also the first in the category and among the first in the business to premiere our multiple Emmy-award nominated show – The World Wars – on the HISTORY TV18 App, before its TV launch. The future belongs to content which is platform agnostic. By premiering one of our top rated shows on the App first, we are taking baby steps in this direction. What’s more, when viewers are unable to tune-in to our channel, we have put the TV in their hands with the introduction of our live-streaming feature. The idea is to eventually create a 360 degree network for consumers to connect with each other, our content and advertisers in the best way possible.

The coming of BARC

I think the big fear many have is that we are replacing one not-so-perfect monopolistic system with another. But I think these fears are largely unfounded because BARC has all three stakeholders working closely to make it a success. It will definitely be a learning experience for all of us and a great exercise in working together to achieve a uniform industry recognised standard, a precedent that has so far eluded the sector.


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