Tata Sky began the year on a positive note, announcing that it now has the maximum number of channels and services across the DTH industry. Malay Dikshit, Chief Communications Officer of Tata Sky, shares the strategies that define the brand and help it remain ahead of the curve
By Samarpita Banerjee
Q] Tata Sky’s campaigns featuring Amitabh Bachchan have been well-received. How has the association with him helped the brand?
Amitabh Bachchan has helped us connect with different segments of society, both geographical and socio-economical. For all the different kinds of messages that you want to communicate to the consumer, Bachchan stands as a very good unifier of a common Tata Sky platform reaching out to people with different entertainment choices.
Q] Rural is a big, untapped market and has a lot of scope. What are you doing to penetrate it further?
Rural penetration requires a mix of different vehicles to disseminate the message because TV alone doesn’t help. However, not having TV also doesn’t help. So, it’s a mix of BTL and TV. We have our indirect sales force called Sonus and we have a lakh of them who go into the hinterlands selling our wares to the outlets. So, it’s a mix of different channels.
Q] What are the markets you are looking at for expansion?
Our plans include expanding pan-India. At this point of time, it’s not really about geography, it’s about DAS space which gives us the maximum opportunity for acquisitions.
Q] OTT platforms are now giving DTH providers tough competition, with a lot of youngsters choosing OTT over TV. How are you planning to stay relevant?
It’s the consumer who chooses to view his entertainment either in a lean-back way in front of a TV screen or in a lean-forward way. As long as we at Tata Sky know that we are in the business of entertainment and not just a particular screen, we are in the game. We have an app which will very soon have about 240 live channels in there, thousands of titles and value-added services, all available for free to our subscribers. That’s a tough one to beat. That’s our participation in the OTT space. The fundamentals of marketing remain the same, whether you are selling your wares for the TV screen or for a mobile screen or a tablet - it’s got to be about novelty, about intent and a call to action. These fundamentals remain the same, irrespective of which medium the consumer is choosing to see. The difference, though, is that the turnaround speed of seizing every moment is much faster in the digital space. There is a bit more time available in the traditional media space.
Q] The deadline for Phase IV of cable digitization has been extended to March 31, 2017. What kind of opportunities do you see?
Close to 70 million untapped households in those markets do not have access to the best quality of delivery of content, so we see a huge opportunity there. That’s where our USP lies and that’s where our acquisitions will come from.
Q] How difficult will it be to sell your product to this category of consumers?
Every Indian in every corner of society understands value. In our previous campaign ‘Family Jingalala’, Amitabh is seen talking about how Tata Sky has got content for every family member. People do understand value and realize that to watch something good, there has to be some kind of a value equation where you pay up and you receive good quality. That’s always going to remain, irrespective of whether you are in an urban area or a rural town.
Q] For some time now, your campaigns have been speaking about value-added services. Will your communication continue to revolve around that?
Value-added services, service quality and our linear channels are all going to be one single part of our core offering and our consumer communication.
Q] Tata Sky operates in a market that has a lot of players and little scope for increasing prices. Over the years, what has been your strategy to ensure that consumers stick to you?
More than being price-conscious, India is a value-conscious market. Yes, price is an indicator but we have seen that it is the value equation that our consumers seek. As long as we are easy and simple to deal with, deliver relevant and great quality content and keep on innovating, we will be ahead of the game and consumers will stay well-entrenched with us. So these are the fundamentals on which we retain our consumers. And yes, at the end of the day, all of it sums up into great value for money.
Q] Going forward what will be your primary focus while marketing Tata Sky?
We have three primary consumer segments and it’s difficult to place focus on any one but the task remains the same - to endear our brand to consumers. Our three segments are the guys in the hinterland who give us the maximum scope from the untapped potential subscriber base, the second is the existing subscriber base which is spread across the country and the third is the digital native. So our priority is going to bring in hard-performance based marketing to nuanced offerings to each of these segments and still have a common thread to bind Tata Sky across the offering.
Q] How did the brand fare in 2016? Can you share some growth figures with us?
Growth figures are a result of many activities that we do. From some 250 odd channels, we have now reached 600, which is growth. To develop a completely robust, rural infrastructure and an indirect sales force is growth. Our vans and on-ground activations go to 15,000 towns, which is growth. There is a good rise in our positive sentiments on social media because our first response time has come down exponentially from 45 minutes two years back to 5 minutes now. That’s growth and these are things that lead to good growth numbers.
Q] Which medium utilizes the major chunk of your advertising and marketing spends?
That depends on brief. For instance, when we announced that we had the maximum number of channels across the DTH industry, TV would play a leading role. Wall paintings, BTL, activations, ground activations, etc., are also other primary sources of messaging for us. At other times, like during the launch of Mumbai Film Festival, digital takes the centre-stage and we talk to a set of audience that is digitally active. At such times, it doesn’t make sense to go live with an ATL communication. So our marketing mix differs from brief to brief.
Q] What is brand Tata Sky’s USP?
We are utterly thrilling and beautifully simple. We are thoughtful. And we do everything to make our content captivating. These are the things that drive us every day and differentiate us form the clutter.
Q] What is the one trend that we will see in 2017 in the DTH sector?
Rise of nuanced communities, more power to these communities who will seek bespoke solutions, be it in that TV experience, watching regional HD of their choice, not because they don’t understand other genres, but as there is a sense of increased pride. That’s going to be the leading space. Also, if brands are able to connect to these nuances, during, let’s say, a certain festival or a certain macro-economic decision-making time, and there is a legitimate reason for a brand to participate in that moment and befriend the consumers, that’s going to see success in the coming year. Moreover, people want to participate in the India growth story. If you can be friends with them, co-participating with them in the India growth story, you are going to be good friends with the consumer.