Make great shows which at least one person in each household will love. The rest will watch and accept them anyway,” declares M K Anand, MD of Media Networks, Disney UTV. The thought for Disney UTV is very clear - as India is predominantly a single TV home, it aims to hook one person in every household, and get the other family members to join in.
When UTV, one of India’s biggest media companies, joined hands with Disney, arguably the world’s largest media conglomerate, the complete acquisition approximately valued at Rs 2,000 crore created a huge positive impact in the media space. It became clear that India is now a serious market. The takeover has been extremely positive internally too, says Anand. “Originally, before this integration happened, we were two small broadcast companies. Both the networks were seen as vibrant, yet marginal groups. But when you put the two together, we became 4-5% GRP of the Indian market,” he explains. Increase in GRPs is definitely one positive outcome from the merger, but having nine channels under the network’s kitty has also given more bargaining power for various aspects such as distribution, channel placements, etc. Being a powerful network helped Disney UTV partner with Viacom18 for IndiaCast and be at par with them. “Recently, we signed a joint venture with Viacom18, called IndiaCast UTV. This happened because of our strength,” says Anand.
The primary thing which Anand and his team got cracking on was distribution, as it was a major hindrance in adding a large viewer base across India. “The first task was to put all channels together and ask, ‘Are we well distributed?’ If we are not, then is it due to resource, influence or inability? We had set ourselves the target of plugging all the possible gaps by the end of last year and we have managed to do it,” says Anand. Apart from setting deadlines, the Government mandate of digitization was also a bonus for the network. “The data after digitization indicated that we had gone to 215 GRPs. Before that, we were at 170 GRPs at a cluster level. I don’t think anybody had got that kind of swing, and we have been able to maintain that,” he adds.
BOLD & BINDASS
One of the main propellers of growth in viewership for Disney UTV has been the network’s flagship youth channel, Bindass. Anand tells us that it is a misconception that Bindass caters to urban India alone: “We are not looking at aping the West and we definitely don’t take South Bombay as our benchmark. We can’t afford to be urban-focused in terms of tone, look, feel, content and theme.” As someone who has been spearheading Bindass, it is but natural for Anand to be acquainted with the psyche of the Indian youth through research and surveys conducted to steer the network’s future growth chart.
Anand makes a point here: “Indians have immense hope and confidence in their future. One thing that defines young India is the belief that their tomorrow will be better than their today. They are supremely confident about going to be highly global in terms of their outlook, lifestyle, etc. But at the same time they are extremely rooted in their traditional family set-up.” The other important point that has emerged from various surveys conducted by Disney UTV is that love and relationships are of highest priority for adults and adolescents in India. “It is true for people who go to college or even those who don’t go to college in an LC1 market or a rural market. Contemplating, fantasizing, experiencing relationships are one of their topmost priorities and we realize that this is an area which would matter to them from the point of improving their lives.” Anand strongly believes that Bindass can be that “Agony Aunt” which every youth can rely on.
‘TV IS NEW MEDIA’
In an age where TV is being consumed more on the Internet and mobile, Disney UTV has made its presence stronger on digital platforms such as Facebook and YouTube. In fact, the network produces original content for Internet viewers. Chickipedia is one such show, available on Disney UTV’s YouTube page, and it has been awarded extensively on various platforms. Anand has a different point of view on new media: “When your set top box becomes truly functional with two-way communication, then cable TV will become the new media in itself. New media is not just Internet, social media or YouTube. TV is also going to be the new media. Picking up content from various places and watching what you want is how new media is going to make a difference to our lives. But you need to have content to map that.”
CONTENT: THE NEXT LEVEL
Since distribution issues have been resolved and there’s a proper team integrated from Disney & UTV in place, Anand has turned his attention to content. “I can now tinker with the product and improve it. Going forward, my whole attention is going into content. A lot of brainstorming is happening on what should be the next level of content. My concentration is right now on brand marketing.”
On TAM’s diktat on Misrepresentation of Data…
Unless somebody’s fidgeting and misquoting, there’s no problem. It is like finance where different banks say different things, but ultimately everyone is telling the truth, though one is obviously better than the other. However, if you are putting in your money just on the basis of someone’s claims, then you are being a fool. Obviously, you can’t blame that bank. There’s this line ‘Liars, damned lies & statistics’.
on whether BARC will bring in change…
Personally, at the methodology and personal integrity level, I think TAM is reasonably good. Will things improve with more people coming in? Of course, they will. But will bringing in more players take away your problems? I am not sure. Broadcasters will be more comfortable with BARC as it is owned and initiated by them.
on TRAI’s 10+2 ad cap for broadcasters…
It had to be implemented one day. It is not that my dropped inventory gets picked up by somebody else, because if that happens, then I will lose revenue. So now advertisers will have to talk on the new negotiated price.