Television

“We’ve prevented more than 100 potential TV show failures from going on-air:” Shailesh Kapoor

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The television ecosystem is replete with executives who have entered the sector after getting qualified as engineers, management graduates, hoteliers, biologists and what have you. Shailesh Kapoor belongs to this cadre. An IIT Delhi electrical engineering graduate and an IIM Kolkata alumnus, he has been involved in the television business for about 17 years in various roles in marketing, content and strategy, working for companies such as Sony Entertainment Television, Zee Cinema, indya.com, Zoom and Filmy. The entrepreneurial bug bit him in 2008 when he set up Ormax Media along with consumer insight specialist and veteran Vispy Doctor.

 

And since then there has been no looking back. The company celebrated its seventh year of growth recently and its client roster has been growing from the film, television, print, and branded entertainment categories. Its products have helped film and television content creators understand their audiences better. 

Kapoor is an avid film fan himself. He is also an active blogger.

 

When he is not working, watching a film or writing, there is a good chance that you will find him exchanging views and thoughts on Twitter! We spoke to Kapoor on Ormax Media and its products.

 

Excerpts:

 

Seven years. Ormax Media has been consistently building new products. What keeps the company so dynamic? What has been the strategy? 

Our strategy has been to create products that address business needs that are industry-wide. For example, the need to bring a consumer perspective to a movie’s campaign and make film marketing accountable led to Ormax Cinematix, which is a tracking and forecasting product for the film industry, subscribed to by more than 15 film companies today.

 

Similarly, Ormax True Value was born from the knowledge that more than 75 per cent of new launches fail, and that conventional research methods have been unsuccessful predictors of what will work and what will fail. Hence, the need to create a testing product that can forecast actual on-air performance with proven accuracy over time.

 

How large is the Ormax Media team? How many offices?

The team is 35 people strong. We run one of India’s most advanced CATI (Computer Assisted Telephonic Interviews) setup from Surat, which employs another 50 people. Some of our key products, such as Ormax Showbuzz and Ormax Cinematix, run out of this centre. We have business offices in Mumbai and Delhi. But we are present across India, in various forms, be in through affiliates, online research or CATI. More than 25 per cent of our work in the last year has been in villages or towns of population less than 50,000.

 

Ormax True Value (OTV) is among the more reliable barometers, which programmers use before launching new TV shows. What has been the reason for this?

I’d like to believe the reason has been a proven track record. The accuracy of forecast speaks for itself in a product such as Ormax True Value (OTV). Several long-running and successful shows on TV today, which unfortunately I cannot name, are OTV certified products. Thirty one shows currently on-air were tested using OTV, across genres like Hindi general entertainment channels (GECs), Regional (Marathi, Bangla & Tamil), Kids and Youth. More importantly, we have prevented more than 100 potential failures from going on-air. That’s some money saved.

 

More than 200 programs tested across 21 channels in six years. That is some track record. How different is the product OTV today from the time you launched in 2009? What are iterations you have built into it and why?

The core idea of the product has remained the same, that is, to predict the likelihood of on-air success. All such products tend to be self-learning products, whereby learnings from one test feed into the larger black box running the product. Hence, the sharpness of attributes and accuracy of forecast have improved with time. In 2013, we introduced TSV (Time Spent by Viewer) forecast as the single-number output of an OTV testing. Among the shows that have gone on-air since then, we have been within 10 per cent of actual TSV for 88 per cent of shows.

 

Is OTV a decision-support tool or a decision-making tool? Can you illustrate with examples? How much does it cost clients to use it as a service?

OTV allows for two types of decisions to be taken based on consumer data – to go or not go ahead with a show and to identify the core target audience and markets for the show, and its ideal positioning to win these audiences. We test shows at various stages, right from the audio pilot to video stimulus (for example, pilot episode or even the first episode).

 

Decision-making or decision-support would depend on the context. We have tested shows where the channel head or programming head has a strong hunch that the show will work or vice versa, and they have used OTV to validate that hunch, which is more like a decision-support process. Often, it does get validated, but sometimes, the results vary from the hunch significantly, in which case, the channel takes an informed decision.

 

Cost would vary depending on the markets and sample size. Broadcasters have tested shows in as many as 10 markets and as little as two markets too. The cost of testing one concept could be between Rs 2-6 lakh depending on choice of markets and TG.

 

With VOD and OTT services growing are you looking at servicing that segment too?

Definitely. Work is on in full swing on adapting OTV to online content. The principles of the product are media agnostic. We just need to calibrate the model and identify the drivers for the online medium, as they would vary vis-?-vis those for TV. Within TV too, weightages of the drivers vary for fiction and non-fiction content, for example.

 

How have programmers used the tools you provide to improve their decision making process?

OTV is a part of the standard commissioning protocol in many channels, which means that a show cannot be commissioned till OTV testing has been done. So I think we have been able to influence decision-making processes for the better.

 

Is pre-testing a big part of your overall business?

Definitely, and it’s the growing part too. Over time, everyone has realised that you can’t save a bad show idea beyond a point. Similarly, you can’t save a bad film from sinking Monday onwards. In both TV and films, the industry has become a lot more open to pre-testing than ever before. We tested more shows in the first half of 2015 than in all of 2014. Similarly, we tested more films and scripts in the last four months than in all of 2014. Ormax Moviescope is OTV’s equivalent product for film and film script pre-testing.

 

Do you see traditional television reacting to the innovative programming that OTT services will launch?

The audiences are different and the idea of “innovation” has to be contextualised to the audiences of the medium. Innovation has to be there even in traditional television, as audiences would demand new stories and ideas all the time. But reacting to OTT content is not a good idea, and the intersection between the two audience sets is minuscule. 

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