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Tamil TV faces the challenge of attracting younger audiences

Industry discussed the content trends and challenges faced by Tamil television.

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MUMBAI: TV viewership is growing in the regional market and TV broadcasters do not fear the OTT threat. Instead, regional players are looking at attracting younger audiences to television. Tele-Wise Tamil 2019, which was organised by Indiatelevision.com on 6 August 2019, gave the industry a platform to discuss the issues faced in the regional market.

The event witnessed a panel discussion on ‘Changing face of TV’ moderated by Horse Pictures partner and YuppTV former head Vijay Adhiraj with the panel as Colors Tamil business head Anup Chandrasekharan, Sun Life content acquisition and Sun TV Network Ltd Kids Entertainment Kavitha Jaubin, Trend Loud CEO Chidambaram Natesan, Star Network deputy business head for Vijay TV Balachandran Ratnavel, Bodhitree Multimedia Pvt Ltd co-founder and director Mautik Tolia, and Polimer TV strategic advisor and consultant Suresh Iyer were the panelists.

The panelists discussed evolving content trends and challenges faced by the industry in attracting younger audiences in the regional space and the importance of weekly ratings in creating content.

Adhiraj began the discussion by understanding how content creators decide what kind of content will work. To which Natesan replied, “Content has always being a priority to us. What makes us decide what kind of content work well for us is basically to understand what the need of the hour is. We go by the data and data makes us change our decision every day. We decide content based on the power of engagement.”

On understanding the audience's need, Tolia commented, “Over the last one and a half years, especially with my company, we have broken our company into three verticals, one with Hindi GEC content, another with digital web content and one with regional content. That’s what makes the job of a content creator more complex. The digital market itself has very different kind of audiences; there is Netlfix audience, catch-up TV audience. There is a different scale of digital model which has started operating. We need to be very clear about who is our audience.”

Ratnavel believes that TV and OTT share same universe so there is no need to come up with separate kind of content for both the platform. He said, “BARC data gives very different picture on television. TV is growing and in Tamil Nadu TV viewership has grown 10 to 15 per cent Y-o-Y. The time spent has substantially grown, it is beyond the national average which means there is a huge appetite for TV in Tamil Nadu. There is no need to change the kind of content for digital and television because the people on both the platforms are same.”

“I would say 80 per cent of the content has succeeded by default not by design. For a content to succeed, there are three key stakeholders- content creator, marketer and advertiser. They are all inter-linked with each other,” Iyer opined.

Sharing his view on whether metric defines the content, Chandrasekharan said, “In our business we are not governed by the metrics that keep popping-up every week. We focus on trying to create a clutter breaker, how do we make it relatable and how do we ensure that every day people come and consumer our content.”

He further said, “There is a great amount of experimentation that happens with content in Tamil Nadu and content keeps evolving. There are three stages in which the content is designed i.e. to get a content that will attract the audiences; second is liking the content and third is addiction which makes one to follow the content.”

Speaking about Sun Life, Jaubin said, “I strongly believe that today the viewers are no more massive viewers instead they are the co-creators through their feedback. They want to be active and social media is highly interactive because of the fact that they have been given the space to be active 24/7. So we thought of creating something for a younger demographic but it is not out of the box, it includes family audiences as well.”

“We need to be continuously in touch with them. When we know to meet our consumer then we understand better about the exact filter that we need to apply to our content. Staying in constant touch with our audiences, speaking to them and understand their life and daily routine actually helps us to create most of the contents especially on TV,” said Ratnavel.

Chandrasekharan said, “If we specifically take Tamil Nadu into consideration, if we decode the kind of content Sun TV was offering was largely family drama, Vijay TV was largely into romantic kind of content, Zee Tamil brought in romance and family. The content offering in Tamil Nadu has evolved from within the family to the outer circle of the family. In the next two years, the kind of content offering would be not just around the mother and daughter but around the outer world of the family like neighbours and society. The average consumer is also getting exposed to different kinds of content, so their expectations are also pretty high.”

Jaubin also expressed the need to take technology like AI and augmented reality into account so that the broadcasters start producing some of the best formats on TV.

Speaking on the challenges, Tolia said, “Nowadays Facebook and Hotstar have become our competitors as the women are spending more time on social media platforms. That is the major challenge for Hindi GEC and regional market has still not faced it because we are growing but the challenge is going to be on how to attract the younger audiences to TV who are engaging themselves in very different kinds of entertainment. That is something we really need to look into.”

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