WHERE ARE THE WOMEN VIEW­ERS?

Times Net­work asks why the English News genre is mea­sured only in terms of the All In­dia Male 22+ NCCS AB au­di­ence

Impact - - [IMPACT] FEATURE -

If one were to look at BARC ratings for the English News tele­vi­sion genre, the sam­ple cut used for English news for pub­lic re­port­ing is All In­dia Male 22+ NCCS AB. One must keep in mind that this cut had been col­lec­tively de­cided by the con­cerned stake­hold­ers. This is also be­cause ear­lier re­ports re­vealed that the gen­der ra­tio in­di­cates that the news genre is skewed to­wards male au­di­ences, as op­posed to to­tal TV, where the split is seen to be equal.

A re­cent BARC re­port, ‘The Chang­ing Face of TV in In­dia’, re­leased at FICCI Frames 2018, throws up some in­ter­est­ing find­ings. As per the re­port, women make a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to news genre view­er­ship, with fe­male view­er­ship pegged at 44%. This raises the ques­tion as to why the fe­male view­er­ship of news is not re­ported in the pub­lic data for the genre. Say­ing that Times Net­work has made it an agenda to at­tempt to change this, MK Anand ex­plains,“With con­sump­tion pat­terns chang­ing, there is only one genre in the TV land­scape that looks at only male TG def­i­ni­tion when it comes to mea­sure­ment. The as­sump­tion was that

“In­dia is pre­dom­i­nantly a sin­gle TV house­hold, so the news view­er­ship by women could be pas­sive. While they are in­ter­ested in fol­low­ing some amount of news, if you ask me where their pas­sion is, it is def­i­nitely not news.

Also, we can reach them more ef­fec­tively

on other gen­res. So view­er­ship num­bers will not nec­es­sar­ily re­sult in ad­ver­tis­ing in cat­e­gories pre­dom­i­nantly tar­geted at

these au­di­ences.” NAVIN KHEMKA

CEO des­ig­nate, Me­di­aCom South Asia

women were not watch­ing news. I can un­der­stand this sam­ple cut if women ac­counted for even 20-25% of the to­tal news view­er­ship. How­ever, the re­al­ity is that over 40% of the view­er­ship comes from women and this is a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber.”

Anand re­it­er­ates, “We are not look­ing at this as a rev­enue-seek­ing op­por­tu­nity. I am only say­ing that whether it is Print or Tele­vi­sion, you look at au­di­ence by qual­ity, then why is it that you have a gen­der bias in only one genre that ex­cludes women while mea­sur­ing view­er­ship?”

How­ever, the other news net­works and even me­dia plan­ners and ad­ver­tis­ers do not seem to share Anand’s ex­cite­ment. Me­dia plan­ners and ad­ver­tis­ers we spoke to mostly say that as ratings are a cur­rency that de­ter­mine ad spends, their ob­jec­tives for tar­get­ing women view­ers are bet­ter met ad­ver­tis­ing on GECs be­cause of their reach and higher time-spent. Ac­cord­ing to Navin Khemka, CEO des­ig­nate, Me­di­aCom South Asia, “In­dia is pre­dom­i­nantly a sin­gle TV house­hold, so the news view­er­ship by women could be pas­sive. While they are in­ter­ested in fol­low­ing some amount of news, if you ask me where their pas­sion is, it is def­i­nitely not news. Also, we can reach them more e“ec­tively on other gen­res. So view­er­ship num­bers will not nec­es­sar­ily re­sult in ad­ver­tis­ing in cat­e­gories pre­dom­i­nantly tar­geted at these au­di­ences.”

How­ever, one plan­ner who gives

chan­nel at all - only fresh young faces with zero bag­gage. At 9 pm, we of­fer the In­dian cit­i­zen the news with­out fuss.”

The at­tempt to dif­fer­en­ti­ate was also seen at ET Now, which mod­i­fied its pro­gram­ming to go be­yond mar­ket and fi­nance. With the po­si­tion­ing of ‘Rise with In­dia’ as an ed­i­to­rial fil­ter, the at­tempt at ET Now is to put the spotlight on devel­op­ment is­sues and de­vel­op­men­tal eco­nomics. So, while mar­kets re­main sacro­sanct dur­ing stock mar­ket hours, post 4 pm, the con­tent also fo­cuses on gen­eral news. How­ever, com­pet­ing with gen­eral news chan­nels has its own set of chal­lenges. Ad­mits Supriya Shri­nate, Ex­ec­u­tive Ed­i­tor, ET Now, “Ini­tially, it was tough be­cause view­ers as­so­ciate busi­ness news chan­nels with stock mar­kets from 9 am to 4 pm and busi­ness news be­yond that. We broke that and the fact that com­pe­ti­tion is try­ing to em­u­late what we are do­ing is val­i­da­tion. We re­de­fined prime-time and got in­tel­li­gence back into de­bates.”

Anand says that in an oth­er­wise bad ad sales year, “ET Now has been phe­nom­e­nal in terms of rev­enue”. The chan­nel has done par­tic­u­larly well in terms of rev­enue from Branded Con­tent.

A STRATE­GIC TIE-UP

Mov­ing on to en­ter­tain­ment at Times Net­work, Zoom an­nounced a syn­er­gis­tic brand part­ner­ship with the lead­ing on­line fash­ion e-tailer, Myn­tra. In its new avatar, ‘Zoom styled by Myn­tra’, the net­work is bet­ting on its huge fol­low­ers on var­i­ous so­cial me­dia plat­forms and the brand is be­ing sold as a me­dia neu­tral piece. The fo­cus is on cre­at­ing IPs and ex­pe­ri­ences with events built on mu­sic and en­ter­tain­ment, fash­ion, con­certs and life­style. The aim is to build 30% of rev­enues from Branded Con­tent. For Zoom, the com­pany is look­ing at a 40% growth and mov­ing to­wards a 25% in­crease in yield.

THE DIG­I­TAL PLAY

Though Times Now had a dig­i­tal pres­ence ear­lier, it was only when Dig­i­tal na­tives Shouneel Charles, Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent – Dig­i­tal and Akrita Re­yar, Chief Ed­i­tor, Dig­i­tal came on board last year that Dig­i­tal got a big push for the net­work. “We have seen great suc­cess in Dig­i­tal. We got the team in place only in the last quar­ter of FY16 and within a short span, by Septem­ber we were ready with an im­proved plat­form,” says Anand.

Be­sides English, the new re­vamped sin­gle dig­i­tal en­tity of Times Net­work, www.times­nownews.com, is also avail­able in Hindi and Marathi and the plan is to ex­pand it to other re­gional lan­guages. Anand can­didly ad­mits that a strate­gic er­ror ear­lier was that the Dig­i­tal man­date was given to peo­ple whose core ex­per­tise was Broad­cast. With Dig­i­tal na­tives now driv­ing the show, the bench­marks are also clear. “It has been a hockey stick growth for Dig­i­tal. Our FY19 tar­gets and Q1 per­for­mance are through the roof. The change in man­age­ment in 2016 on the ed­i­to­rial side helped a lot of these corrections. Prod­uct-wise, this has been our best year,” Anand states.

Look­ing ahead, on the Dig­i­tal front, it will be in­ter­est­ing to see the trac­tion that the Tele­vi­sion arm of the me­dia be­he­moth Times Group (BCCL) gets once the much-awaited OTT video ser­vice from Times In­ter­net is launched. For the mo­ment, dig­i­tally Times Net­work has a pres­ence on the Jio plat­form and is in the process of ty­ing up with other OTT and distribution plat­forms.

THE GROWTH DRIVER

With growth on the News genre be­ing flat, the big driver

“Over­all our en­tire distribution growth has been driven by the English Clus­ter and this year we will be prof­itable in distribution. This is the growth that we were af­ter when we ex­panded in the movies space. With ef­fi­cient uti­liza­tion of the movies in our li­brary, we launched mul­ti­ple chan­nels at low mar­ginal cost and that has paid off” - MK ANAND

for the net­work has been the English Clus­ter - com­pris­ing three SD chan­nels, Movies Now, MNX and Rom­edy Now, and four HD chan­nels, Movies Now HD, Rom­edy Now HD, MNX HD and MN+. Cur­rently, two chan­nels, Movies Now and the lat­est launch MNX – the re­vamped Movies Now 2 – are reg­u­larly among the Top 5 English movie chan­nels. How­ever, the most im­por­tant driver for growth of the English busi­ness has been distribution. In In­dia, distribution has been a chal­lenge for all net­works, par­tic­u­larly the smaller ones, but Times Net­work has been able to up its distribution rev­enue from 7% four years ago to 16% of the over­all rev­enue to­day. This growth has been at­trib­uted to the growth in the num­bers of movie chan­nels - from two to seven (in­clud­ing HD chan­nels) in four years. Says Anand, “Over­all our en­tire distribution growth has been driven by the English Clus­ter and this year we will be prof­itable in distribution. This is the growth that we were af­ter when we ex­panded in the movies space. With ef­fi­cient uti­liza­tion of the movies in our li­brary, we launched mul­ti­ple chan­nels at low mar­ginal cost and that has paid off.” Cur­rently, the net­work has long-term deals with NBCU, Dis­ney, WB, Mi­ra­max and MGM. While the genre as a whole wit­nessed a drop in Adex last year, the movie chan­nel launches helped Times Net­work up its share of the pie. Prior to de­mon­e­ti­za­tion, till 2016, the movie cat­e­gory growth was 16-18%. Times Net­work on the whole grew by 22% as the movie clus­ter grew by 40-50% on ac­count of strong prod­uct per­for­mance and new launches. Look­ing ahead, this year, it is es­ti­mated that the movie growth will be higher than 20% with MNX be­ing the main growth driver.

Cur­rently, the re­cent launches have been bun­dled with the older ex­ist­ing chan­nels and are not op­er­at­ing on a car­riage-fee model. Ex­plains Anand, “The new chan­nels, MNX and Mir­ror Now have come in the ex­ist­ing cost. We have not taken a drop ab­so­lute, but in re­al­ity it has dropped be­cause we have more chan­nels placed at the same cost.” With new mar­kets be­ing cov­ered, the car­riage fee has also seen an in­crease along with pro­mo­tional ar­range­ments on EPG mar­ket­ing, for ex­am­ple, on land­ing pages, which in­creased the out­lay.

In­dus­try sources in­di­cate that the over­all rev­enue for Times Net­work for the last fis­cal was Rs 550-Rs 650 crore, and if one were to do a sim­ple back­hand cal­cu­la­tion, Anand’s ex­pec­ta­tion of 20% growth would mean Times Net­work clock­ing up to Rs 800 crore this year. That would take the com­pany close to the avowed tar­get of over Rs 1,000 crore, and con­trib­ute to at least 15-16% of BCCL’s rev­enues.

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