TV Impact: Manish Tiwari on the first three months of Sky changes

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Manish Tiwari, Managing Director of Here & Now 365, has been rather vocal about the changing times in the UK TV industry. Tiwari, who has been instrumental, in leading some of the biggest campaigns for a number of broadcasters recently, gave his take on how the television market has changed over the past three months.

What’s your take on the current state of the UK Asian TV market?
The UK Asian TV market is in a state of flux with uncertainty in terms of its commercial growth. However, it does have very loyal base of viewership and as channels like Star Plus have demonstrated they are going to drive the revenue though growth in real revenue terms might be a concern. The reason for negative growth commercially in coming months is a result of the industry not being able to come together and demand a more robust panel from BARB as the current panel doesn’t represent the immense diversity of South Asian viewers. It doesn’t represent the immense cultural diversity of South Asians which is a potpourri of all shades of human variety and cultural nuances.

We have a leadership vacuum in the Asian TV industry who can challenge the status quo of the wider industry body and we are in a defeatist mode. It is a serious leadership challenge.

Also the industry seems to be hell bent on cannibalisation wherein repetitive content aimed at weaning away revenues rather than complimenting each other is still the norm of the day. How does one justify adding more channels to the bouquet when the sensible way would be to optimise the delivery against existing content ?? However, it does seem that the industry is not consolidating itself to sell better rather trying to bite a larger share of the shrinking pie.
Zee TV released an interesting ad in India recently talking about co-operation and co-existence; the industry needs to come together to face the challenges.
There is hardly a TV industry veteran in the past who is missed today and I hope today’s leaders realise that they have a bigger role than the fragile ego being nurtured. I often find the leadership lacking in terms of narrow outlook and willingness to listen to others.

Which has been the biggest surprise for you on the TV front over the last three months?
The biggest surprise has been that in the last three months the rating order of the channels has not changed drastically except on few occasions. Barring the relative success of a food show related channel, the rest of the results have been extremely predictable. I expected to see a lot more turmoil and not just Star Plus leading the pack. However, this might be too soon to say anything in a definitive way.

Like in all walks of life, people like ‘certainty’ and the Asian channels who have a fixed style of programming have succeeded as they have given ‘certainty’ in entertainment style. The movie channels or channels which use movies as an ingredient to pull viewers might never be able to retain those viewers and that has been proved in the last three months.

Which TV channel has impressed you the most in the recent Sky changes?
The most impressive for me has been Star Plus and its ability to consistently deliver the same audiences every day of the week. The second most impressive channel has been NDTV in its ability to remain the most watched news channel in UK while they have lost ground in India.

Which will be the biggest casualty in the next year?
The biggest casualty is going to be the channels who don’t have a defined audience such as ‘Rishtey’ which is slowly being overtaken by the popularity of HUM TV and other Pakistani channels. It is important to define and be clear in positioning and content. You can never be all things to all people – the basics of a good positioning.

What do you envisage to happen over the next six months?
We won’t see anything changing drastically in the next six months but I believe the content of some of the channels will be revamped to make them relevant else they will be at the bottom of the pile with little impact.

Do you think Asian TV channels will change their marketing strategies after the mixed response to campaigns recently?
The marketing campaigns have delivered in my view to the extent that viewers are aware of the channels and the offering. However, the marketing is not rigorous and lacks continuity. In my view, golden rule of content marketing is consistency, consistency and consistency again. Never let the audience forget you. Doesn’t mean that the audience is there to watch bad content or would watch everything you promote but there is a good chance that they will watch everything worth watching if they only knew.

Also we need to widen the net and reach out to the ‘potential’ viewer by promoting ourselves in places of non-traditional traffic. Sony Network has done a good job of advertising on digital billboards and promotion in shopping centres.

Unfortunately as I mentioned Indians are still not the best marketers as in terms of talent in our films and literature as well as wider arts, we are the richest culture.

Do you think media agencies will suffer with broadcasters changing marketing tactics?
I don’t believe that broadcasters were ever the bread and butter client for media agencies. We have been the leaders in this industry for the 5-6 years and our biggest clients have always been from FMCG or telecom backgrounds. We don’t think that broadcasters will stop marketing through mass mediums such as Outdoor but there might be a need for more imaginative promotions and they might want to make deeper inroads into population areas which are not traditional and to do so they will need agencies. They need to bring consistency and imagination into play by using specialists like us.

Here & Now 365 is a media agency based in London. It can be contacted via its website here.

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