Viewers today dictating the future for broadcasters across the globe

Published: March 1, 2019 12:29:49 AM

How will the viewer of tomorrow affect broadcasters?

Today’s viewers are looking at controlling the story arc through social conversations.

By Rohit Gupta

In any business, it is said that ‘the consumer is king’ and the broadcasting business is no different. Viewers today are dictating the future for broadcasters across the globe. What gives them this power? The answer is simple — with an ever-expanding offering of channels, platforms, viewing channels, experiences and engaging content, consumers are spoilt for choice.

With smartphones becoming ‘mini windows’ to the entire world, viewers no longer have to wait to catch up on current breaking news, live sports or the latest episode of their favourite show. The evolving nature of this omni-platform environment has changed the game of storytelling. It is a huge opportunity for broadcasters and content creators to cater to a vast spectrum of audiences.

Creating an experience
Social experiences beyond the programme offering are gaining momentum. Clearly, the general trend is that viewers no longer want to watch a programme or a show in isolation. They want to share, discuss and engage. Every show creates several coteries — fans, followers and critics. No matter which category a viewer falls in, everyone wants to be a part of this conversation. This is much after they have moved on from the viewer experience and taken a part of it with them in their daily lives.

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Social TV is very much emerging as a reality with TV programmes making up 79% of trending Twitter topics during primetime, and live TV driving 87% of Twitter engagement during primetime as per the Video Advertising Bureau. Hence, it does not come as a surprise that the general preference is towards content that creates a 360-degree social experience, which is why sporting events are one of the most popular forms of content consumed.

Today’s viewers are looking at controlling the story arc through social conversations. Broadcasters who can keep up with this trend are bound to be at the forefront of delivering top-notch viewer experiences. After all, a story can change the game, but a story with a personal touch can make it unbeatable.

Watching content in regional languages is adding to the viewer experience. Hence, in the past few years, Indian broadcasters have been expanding their non-Hindi content portfolio — from launching channels in popular regional languages to exploring the potential of regional feeds in genres such as sports. According to data by BARC India, regional language entertainment channels saw double-digit growth in terms of absolute viewership in 2018. Service providers are now raising the stakes in the game by commissioning ‘original’ shows and going all out to acquire regional films for their libraries. Rising internet penetration in rural areas and non-metros and the resultant content consumption patterns here are making these markets a greater focus area for broadcasters and content creators.

What viewers want
With the increase in internet penetration, the media landscape is changing rapidly. Digital presents opportunities, as old and new players adapt to the recalibrating world. Irrespective of the medium, whether television, OTT or mobile, viewers are driving the game.

Technological disruptions are ancillary ripples in the larger scheme of things. For broadcasters, the best way to be at the top of the game is to understand the pulse of their viewers and reach out to them creatively. In present times, with a dynamic environment and synergies at play, the industry is at the cusp of change and there are abundant opportunities to experience the next curve.

-The author is chief revenue officer, ad sales and international business, Sony Pictures Networks India

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