Interactivity with viewer, revolutionary thinking to improving ROI for TV

MUMBAI: The big question that was asked today was "If programmes were brands, would Kotler need to be rewritten?" The session, Improving ROI for television channels was hosted by CNNs Andrew Stevens. Ten years ago there were six cable channels in India, 14 years ago there was only one and now there are innumerable. So now with the growing number of channels the key measure of all business was the return of investment (ROI).

The key note address was given by Turner International Asia Pacific president and MD Steve Marcopoto and the panel of speakers comprised NDTV Media CEO Raj Nayak, SET executive VP Sunil Lulla, UTV chairman Ronnie Screwvala, Madison chairman Sam Balsara, Turner International VP regional ad and licensing sales Soumitra Saha and TAM Media research CEO LV Krishnan.

The speakers extensively spoke about how to increase ROI of TV channels. Balsara spoke from an advertisers point of view and said that to increase ROI channels shouldnt think from only their own perspective but also from the advertisers perspective as the key source of revenue was the advertiser. He said, "Some of the ways ROI can be increased is by keeping the programming cast under control and by keeping a check on the advertising return."

On the other hand, Lulla was all praises about Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahi and the immense success it has got, all thanks to the innovative way the serial was marketed in. He made a dig at Balsara by saying that what advertisers usually ask for is "Gimme more and charge less." Lulla said that the growing realization was that the consumer was becoming very important and that there was a need to balance consumer needs. He further stressed that if their needs were taken care of it would be easier to create programmes that would be liked by them and hence ROI would automatically happen.

Krishnan too endorsed the view that Jassi... was innovatively marketed and was well thought upon. He said, "These days consumers need more understanding of what the programme was all about."

Screwvala said that the product was more important in getting ROIs and that marketing was the support it needed. "After the first two or three episodes it is the word of mouth that takes a property forward." He however also mentioned that the programmes that had done well in India were all that had worked well abroad. Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) and Jassi... were the examples. He said, "Viewership patterns change every six months and so there has to be differentiating."

Nayak on his behalf said that when one has a bouquet of channels, there was really no need to spend money out of the box to get ROI. Spends need to made cleverly was what he stressed on. One programme where NDTV has managed to score points with its audiences is the Jai Jawan series with Aamir Khan and Rani Mukherjee. "We have tried to different here without digressing from the format of the channel. By this we have managed to get audiences who usually would not come to a news channel," he said.

Balsara couldnt control a dig here when he said that in order to be different there was no need to spend millions of dollars by paying big stars. That according to him was a 'dumb' way of doing it.

Turners Saha gave his eight Ps of getting the ROIs. Product development, programming mix, precision, people, promise, pricing, platforms and pioneering.

The conclusions were one too many. Interactivity with the viewer, revolutionary thinking, new technology and outsourcing were among the few ways in which ROI could be increased for television channels. "If anything can stimulate Indians it is television," concluded Balsara.

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