the curtain falls down on 2005, Star India COO Sameer Nair
take on what the year has been and what the industry can
expect from 2006. In a free-wheeling conversation, Nair
races through an array of subjects ranging from narrative
fiction to IPTV. Tune in to one of the best brains in Indian
I look back to the start of the year, the biggest question
for us was, "What's going to happen with our Star One
attack / experiment?" As regards Star Plus, of course,
all our energies were focussed on bringing back KBC.
what of Star Plus? There was all this talk doing the rounds
that Star Plus was losing prime time share. Yes it was,
but not to the competition. What our research showed was
that it was news and regional channels that were eating
into our audiences. It is news channels that effectively,
seem to be competing with general entertainment channels.
And that is not too surprising if you really think about
it. Some of the stuff you get to see on news channels nowadays
is far more bizarre than anything that Hindi soap writers
could ever dream up.
coming back to channel share. What we are not losing is
share of audience. What we are losing and will have to fight
for, and that goes for everybody, is share of time. The
number of hours spent watching is going down because of
alternative sources of activity. This is being masked to
an extent due to the growth of the market. The mature side
of the spectrum of the TV viewing population is actually
consuming less. While it is the new viewers that are making
up for the slack.
launched Star One with the purpose of wooing those audiences
who showed this tendency to break away from Star Plus. One
is skewed to the guys getting off while Plus caters to the
old loyalist and the new entrant.
about programming strategies, today, clutter cutting
programming holds the key. I would say, this is were
our competition failed. Their shows may be good but not
different enough to make people break away from us. That
requires really attractive and compelling content. Going
by the theory, "People watch programmes and not channels",
you require really strong magnetic programming to be successful.
TV programmes and channels are going to further focus on
the differentiation in contrast.
you look at what is happening abroad, narrative television
made a grand comeback this year, thanks to some extremely
strong and successful properties such as Desperate Housewives
and Lost. The best thing is, it gives a sense of
realism as well. I would put this as narrative fiction at
is a huge shift because in the West, the reality and
gameshow genres were given undue importance. After the
initial success, they were treated with an over-the-top
interest. The quality started degenerating and hence people
lost interested in them. The best way to use reality shows
and gameshows is in stunts and spikes. They can't be a permanent
property. For example, running a show like Nach Baliye
demanded a lot of time and effort. Nach Baliye was
almost like an enterprise for us. You can do these kind
of properties only once in a year. So, reality shows and
gameshows can't ever be the mainstay of a channel permanently.
today are in an age of distraction. Unless you have
an extra strong and compelling property to keep them glued
and engaged, you are at a loss. Nowadays, even an SMS can
cause a lot of distraction. There is the threat also coming
from Direct to Home (DTH). Digital Video Recorder (DVR)
and even multiplex is challenging television entertainment.
what is the solution? People say content is the king. And
then we talk about the lack of good writers. But if that
doesn't happen, what will you do. You tend to find ways
around the problem. For example, we have been acquiring
Telenovellas and there you have got a ready-made, written
work. You just need to translate it. That's one solution
which has delivered for us.
content should have strong overpowering impact. Serials
like Kyunki... and Kahaani... are examples
of good works from an Indian perspective. They are extremely
complicated individual stories. The issue is, how will you
establish a new show in the ranks of such successful properties?
Nowadays, the audience is more demanding. In loose terms,
creating good content is hard. But, in actual terms, it
is very, very hard. In the present circumstances, you will
have to acquire share of time, share of mind and that makes
the effort very complicated.
this context, it would be nice to look at the strategy the
Times of India followed to fight the recent newspaper
boom in Mumbai. They launched Mumbai Mirror and clubbed
it with Times of India and that made a huge bunch
of news. TOI's intention was to block readers from
getting into new entrants such as DNA and Hindustan
Times. I felt that was a brilliant marketing strategy
from TOI to retain share of mind and share of time.
language television is going to become an addressable
DTH story. English channels have no place in cable. Their
advertising revenue is low and cannot depend on cable for
we will have to face broadband and IPTV though they
are still far away. Streaming live television content on
mobile may be very expensive now. But it is going to change.
The moment our broadband breaks the bandwidth barrier and
gets connected to households, things are going to change.
Amidst all these innovations and new platforms, television
will still be viewed as family entertainment. But larger
and larger sections of people will start accessing other
modes. So you need to prepare for that.
will be the setting stage for 2007, 2008 and 2009. The balance
has been shifting and in 2006, the balance is going to tilt.
It will be a dramatic shift in status quo. Be it DTH or
broadband, everything seems to be coalescing into 2006.
Programming-wise as well, 2006 could well be how 2000 was.
We will have to offer something special, something better.
2006 appears to be the year of DTH. It will be like
a forest fire. We will be able to acquire subscribers more
far as the regional space is concerned, Star Utsav
it going to play a significant role for us. This is still
in the planning stage, but we are actively considering dubbing
some popular Hindi shows in Bengali, Gujarati, Telugu, Kannada
and Marathi and telecasting them through Star Utsav in that
particular region as special feeds. This will give us an
idea on which show works in which language.
to this, we can mix and match and even go for original productions
in these particular languages. Then, later, we will think
about launching regional versions of Star Utsav in these
languages. I feel that is the most cost-effective strategy
as far as regional television space is concerned.
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