Viewers are watching a lot more of fewer channels in MRP regime: Neeraj Vyas

MUMBAI: The new regulatory framework for the TV broadcasting sector has empowered the end consumer to choose and pay for the channels of their choice. Therefore, Hindi GECs need to redefine their content and create better and more meaningful content to stay relevant in the new regime.

This was stated by Sony Sab, Pal and Sony Max movie cluster business head Neeraj Vyas at an event to unveil the new tagline and the marketing campaign of Hindi GEC Sony Sab.

According to Vyas, the broadcasting industry and more specifically the Hindi GECs have chased the eyeballs for far too long without focussing on creating meaningful content that resonates with the viewers. The content strategy in the previous regime was dictated by the economics of the broadcasting industry which was and continues to be advertising driven.

He further stated that the new regime, which gives consumers the freedom to create their own package and buy channels on a la carte basis, has brought in a paradigm shift in the broadcasting industry. He avers that channels that don’t offer value will find it difficult to survive in the new regime.

Vyas asserted that Sony Sab is on a strong footing in the new regime as the channel has seen a sizeable jump in its market share post the implementation of the new tariff order (NTO). The growth in market share is despite the drop in connectivity, which is an industry-wide phenomenon.

He said that Sony Sab’s market share has increased from 12% in pre-NTO to 17% in the last five weeks. He further stated that Sony Sab is number 2 paid Hindi GEC among top 7 Hindi GECs for the same period.

However, what has excited Vyas more is the fact that Sony Sab is ahead of its competitors in terms of time spent. According to him, the average weekly time spent for Sony Sab in the last five weeks is 170 minutes which is more than the likes of Sony Entertainment Television (SET), Star Plus, Colors, and Zee TV.

Vyas attributes the growth in time spent on Sony Sab to the fact that viewers are watching a lot more of fewer channels in the post-NTO scenario as the number of pay channels that consumers were getting in pre-NTO is lower than what they are getting currently.

He also stated that Sony Sab has benefited from the fact that it is the only GEC of its kind offering differentiated content that can be viewed by the entire family. Television viewing in India is a family affair as most households have a single TV set. Therefore, Vyas believes that a channel should have something for everyone in the family.

“In the last 5-6 weeks, we have seen improvement in numbers. We have seen resurgence like never before. Today, the paradigm has shifted because the number of channels a consumer is receiving is less. This means that consumers are watching a lot of the few channels that are available with them. So if you look at our time spent, it is at a historical high of 170 minutes,” Vyas said, during a media interaction.

Vyas also pointed out that while the reach is going down the time spent is becoming a huge qualifier in the new regime. “Reach will be down because connectivity will not be the same. GEC, movie channels have all seen a dip in reach. Even in the movie genre, we will see filters in terms of how many channels people will want. Ultimately, it’s all boiling down to time spent. It’s not just about TRP or GRPs any more, time spent is also becoming a huge qualifier,” he stated.

Talking about the TV broadcast industry, he said that the time has come for television to prepare for the emerging media landscape.

“For 25 years, the TV industry has chased eyeballs. We had a distributor-led model wherein distribution platforms carried all our channels for a specified fee. This ensured that TV channels are available to the maximum number of consumers. We did anything and everything for the rating reality whether the rest of the consumers, apart from the homes which have the rating meters, connect with that content or not as long as we got the ratings that we then monetised,” he elaborated.

He further stated that the television industry today has to be seen from two lenses. One is the rating lens and the second one is the paying consumer. “Consumer today has the choice to buy you or not buy you every month. We took it for granted that we will be in peoples homes. Today, that reality has completely changed. Today, we are getting fewer pay channels in the new regime compared to the previous regime. The whole paradigm has shifted in the new regime,” he added.

He also noted that the TV industry needs to wake up to the fact that all channels are not going to be in all the homes. “Going forward, Me Toos, flankers will not work. When I say won’t work, I mean to say that they will work but with limitations. Content needs to be relevant. It needs to be differentiated and more importantly, being meaningful. Indian consumers, who are extremely price-sensitive, will only choose a brand if it is meaningful.”

Talking about the change in the content landscape, Vyas cited the example of the Bollywood industry. He noted that several big-budget films that were touted as sure-shot hits have bombed at the box-office while content-driven films have been given the thumbs-up by the consumers.

“It is happening in Bollywood with many big films not doing well. If the TV industry doesn’t see the writing on the wall it is going to face the consequences. For far too long, we have been chasing ratings. We have to balance and we have to put out good content,” he said.

Vyas also said that the era of churning out shows in shorter time span is gone since today it takes a good 3-5 months to produce a good show. He also noted that a lot of new shows have been unable to excite the viewers and have failed.

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