Guest Column: Content is king, but is distribution still God?

Striking the right balance between content and distribution can be a challenge for broadcasters

A linear channel goes through multiple layers of distribution intermediaries on ground. 

The resulting viewership entirely depends on the on-air and off-air status of the channel. The on-air includes the content, break pattern and on-air presentation, whereas the off-air hinges on the marketing and distribution ground connectivity of the channel. With the former being constant much of the linear channel’s performance depends on the latter.

The recent dip in the performance of the Asia Cup 2018 on Star Sports, great content coupled with the non-availability of Star channels across a major chunk of C&S homes (~52.6 million) in India, is a case in point.  The Asia Cup 2108 was a great king (content) but governed by a poor God (distribution). 

• 10 per cent drop vis a vis 2016 and an overall drop in audience of 54 million on Star Sports1 
• 5 per cent drop vis a vis 2016 and an overall drop in audience of 24 million on Star Sports 2 

The Asia Cup 2018 saw an overall drop of ~45 per cent in viewership compared to Asia Cup 2016, despite seeing a TV universe growth from 168 million to 195million according to Chrome DM’s recently concluded SES survey (Sep 2018). 

To simply compare the last two tournaments (2016 vis-à-vis 2018) for on-air, there will be ticks for all the factors (table below), indicating that the Asia Cup 2018 was no less a king than it was in 2016 from a content perspective.

Striking the right balance between content curation and distribution can be a real challenge for broadcasters. Though decisions can be made basis the verdict of the selected barometered homes, however, in-depth studies of ground realities are much required to facilitate strategic decision making.

Good content, whether in the form of print or TV will always inspire viewers to engage. The audience will always pause to consume, understand and perhaps even comment, like or share provided it reaches the right audience at the right time.

The author is CEO, Chrome DM. The opinions expressed hereare his own and may not subscribe to them.

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