For the media industry, it’s time for repair and rejuvenation
By Jyoti Bansal
On entering 2021, one thing we can all say is that all the time and bandwidth spent in 2019 on making ‘Vision 2020’ documents and beyond have come to nought. It is time to go back to the drawing board and create new stories and narratives. For the media and entertainment industry, last year was one of reinvention: of going back to the basics, finding new business models and firmly reclaiming its space in the lives of people.
The year that was
The theme of the year was technology: how the industry harnessed it, how consumers adopted it, and how we are all becoming both masters and slaves to it. The big developments that defined the year included the huge rise in consumption of media across multiple devices by a billion people under lockdown due to Covid-19; Jio, the creative and innovative methods adopted by the entertainment industry to stay afloat and connected to their audiences, the big story around the common currency of TRP that defines the economics of the industry, and the almost complete shutdown of large parts of the media industry including OOH, events and print for an extended time period.
The country witnessed some serious investments into new and emerging media and tech platforms in the middle of the lockdown, underlining the inherent strength and potential of the sector. Jio, Google, Facebook are betting big. TikTok became a matter of national debate and still hopes to make a comeback into India.
How M&E adapted
As the nation went into complete lockdown overnight and TV channels started running out of content banks, the penetration and consumption of digital media platforms rocketed. TV viewership bounced back once fresh content was back on air. Going forward, I would expect to see more inclusive content on OTT, beyond just the edgy, niche content that they were using to attract younger viewers. Linear TV will have to learn new content tricks to maintain its role in consumers’ lives. Simultaneously, gaming and home education have taken centrestage in how Indians are spending their time.
Marketers, as always, are following consumers with their ad budgets. In this new internalised consumer world, businesses and marketers have to find a new language and new ways to natively connect with their audiences.
The Indian cinema industry has always been the barometer of pop culture and sentiment. Facing its toughest phase ever, it innovated — from online-only movie releases to shooting in-home and turning it into memorable content. Look out for fundamental shifts in the way the cinema production and distribution business evolve in the coming decade.
The almost complete shutdown of OOH, events and print for an extended time period has exposed some very difficult facets of the media business: there were layoffs, closures and despondency. What came out was quick and smart adoption of technology, virtual events, concerts, adapting to new business realities and recalibration. OOH has a longer haul ahead and technology will again be the big determinant of its shape and format.
As the industry started rebounding, with the lockdown opening up in phases, came the big story around TRPs. For the broadcast industry just getting back on track after a revenue meltdown, it was just what was not needed. It is time for all stakeholders to set the measurement systems in order as the linear TV industry prepares to co-exist with OTT and digital video platforms.
New themes are emerging which will shape the ’20s. Competitors may become collaborators, and technology will shape everything we design, curate and create. The industry is coming of age in a different avatar to suit the needs of consumers who have fundamentally changed.
The author is the former CEO of PHD India