Guest Column: Ravish Kumar, Business Head- Regional Entertainment (Kannada and Marathi Clusters), Viacom18, says that one key lesson that the pandemic taught the sector was to become resilient
What we assumed to be a global health crisis during the initial days, in turn, continues to have vast economic and social repercussions on sectors across the world. Within the media and entertainment industry, the unprecedented crisis during the lockdown caused massive disruption when content production came to a standstill. No one in their wildest dreams ever imagined that the entire industry would come to an abrupt halt. With the postponement of films and content production on hold, the pandemic had a drastic effect on the media and entertainment sector which took many companies on a rollercoaster ride.
However, it is only in our darkest hours that we may discover our true strength. A problem could possibly be an opportunity for channels to showcase their best. Instead of considering them as stop signs, it was time to look at them as guidelines. With people confined within their homes, broadcasters had the opportunity and responsibility of providing quality content to viewers across regions. Despite the shortage in content libraries, television viewing unsurprisingly sky-rocketed. The reintroduction of old classic content like Ramayan and Mahabharata dubbed in region-specific languages became a norm for regional GECs, turning the lockdown phase into a bit of introspective celebration. With average daily time spent per viewer going 6 per cent higher than pre-Covid levels, the lockdown made us realize that archived content in the form of re-runs had a half-life that had hitherto remained unrealized. Dubbed content enabled viewers to discover and enjoy these great stories. Individuals watching TV all 7 days was 26 per cent higher than the pre-Covid levels, indicating that irrespective of the challenging time, good content will always remain relevant.
Curating content became the most important learning curve for broadcasters. Regional audiences have become increasingly discerning and hence content that is being presented to them needs to be relatable, rooted and relevant. With the growing demand for meaningful content with high production values, this unprecedented phase provided storytellers like us, an opportunity to curate content experiences and meaningful stories from across our portfolio of channels. And curation is not easy since it requires a deep understanding of each regional audience’s ambitions, desires, fears, and apprehensions. Without this understanding, the exercise is akin to throwing darts randomly in a dark room with the fervent desire of hitting the bullseye.
As we progress towards a new normal, the sector is already witnessing tectonic shifts. Curation is now as important as creation, originals are as important as dubs, non-prime time ratings are as important as prime time and family audiences are as important as housewives. But one truth is self-evident – the appetite for good content and the relevance of television has set new benchmarks which augurs well for the media & entertainment sector moving forward.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of pitchonnet.com.