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
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 eectively 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.