SPNI has seen huge uptake of channels on a la carte basis across genres: NP Singh

MUMBAI: Contrary to the popular perception that consumers are primarily choosing TV channel bouquets created by broadcasters and distribution platform operators (DPOs), Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) MD and CEO NP Singh has said that his network has seen a huge uptake of channels on a la carte basis as well.

Speaking on the sidelines of Sony Sab’s new show launch, Singh said that other genres apart from Hindi GECs have also seen offtake of channels on a la carte basis. He also stated that consumers have chosen a good mix of a la carte and bouquets as far as SPNI is concerned.

SPNI has seen huge uptake of channels on a la carte basis across genres: NP Singh“From our network’s perspective, we have seen huge uptake of channels on a la carte basis as well not just in Hindi GEC genre but in other genres as well. So it’s been a fairly good mix of bouquet and a la carte which is very encouraging. This shows that the consumer is willing to make a choice and willing to pay for the content that he or she wants to consume,” Singh told TelevisionPost.com.

Singh stated that the network’s crown-jewels Sony Entertainment Television (SET) and Sony Sab are the most subscribed channels on a la carte basis from the SPNI network.

The SPNI head honcho noted that the new tariff order (NTO) needs some more time to settle down. He believes that the NTO needs at least 2-3 months to fully settle down.

“It’s still not fully settled. It will still take time to settle down. The consumers have accepted that there is a change. As the level of understanding increases, they will start to make choices as they deem fit,” Singh said in response to a question. “The DPOs have also come up to speed on their systems and processes. It will take another two to three months to come to a stage where we can say ‘now it is fully on track’.”

Singh also hoped that there are no road bumps on the way to make NTO a success. He also feels that the TRAI’s new consultation is pre-mature as the industry has barely recovered from the after-effects of migrating millions of consumers to the new regime.

The NTO implementation has led to disruption in the industry with channel reach going down thereby impacting the ad revenue of the broadcasters. However, the channel reach is slowly and steadily coming back to its normal state as the NTO is settling down.

“It is pre-mature to revisit the regulation that has just been implemented. It was a herculean task for the broadcasters as well DPOs to migrate 130 million+ subscribers to the new regime,” he noted.

Singh also asserted that the broadcasters and DPOs need to be given due credit for pulling off this gigantic task. Consumers, he feels, will be major gainers from the exercise. However, the TRAI needs to give more breathing space to the industry in terms of stability in policymaking.

“A lot of credit has to be given to the broadcasters and the DPOs in making this happen. We should give more time to the industry to settle this down well and then the real benefits will accrue to the consumer. Eventually, the consumer will benefit from this regime and we are all in support of that. We are looking for stability,” he said.

Singh is satisfied with the performance of both the Hindi GECs both from ratings and subscription point of view. “Both our Hindi GECs have been doing extremely well post NTO and pre NTO as well. From a subscription perspective, we are very happy with the kind of uptake we have seen for all our channels, not just SET and Sony Sab. We are hoping that this trend will continue and it will be driven by the content that we have on the network and what we plan to bring in the future.”

He is particularly excited about Sony Sab, which has seen a resurgence in the last few months, particularly in the new tariff regime. Sony Sab is among the top 3 pay Hindi GEC and has a very high time-spent.

Singh noted that Sony Sab is a special channel for the network as it is highly profitable and contributes significantly to SPNI top line and bottom line.

“Sony Sab’s big litmus was the implementation of the new TRAI tariff regime (NTO). Sony Sab’s loyal viewers have backed the channel even under the new regime. Our subscriber numbers are growing month on month. Time spent on the channel has grown tremendously. Loyal viewers have not only subscribed to it but also watch it on a regular basis,” Singh stated.

NTO, Singh said, has thrown up opportunities and challenges at the same time. “Challenges are opportunities so identifying those are important for us and that’s what we are focussed on. Unfortunately, right now we are going through a slowdown in the market. We are hoping that we will come out of it in next month or so. Then we will be back on the growth path as we have been earlier.”

While he is confident that the economy will rebound, he, however, reckons that the ad revenue for TV will be in single digitals. “The ad growth will be lower than what was earlier projected. It will be in single-digits.”

He believes that the festive season will mark the recovery for the industry. “We are optimistic that the economy will rebound. Some of the measures that have been announced will help build confidence back in the market. Advertisers will also need to advertise to get the consumption go up and that will help our business as well. So, I am optimistic that come festival season we will see a comeback.”

On the performance of Sony Marathi, Singh said that the channel is back on track after witnessing a fall in reach during NTO. “Sony Marathi is performing well. It’s gone through its own disruptions. NTO was a big disruption for all the channels. Being a new channel it had to face a lot more than what others had to. It has recovered and it has got its reach and ratings back. In the last few weeks, we have seen significant growth in viewership and I am confident that it continues to grow further.”

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