By June 2014, India is expected to have 243 million internet users (Source: IAMAI). The number alone is ten times the population of Australia. Given the growing clout of digital and consumption of content on multiple screens, television channels are increasingly getting on the digital platforms to grow reach.
However, some industry observers feel that not much effort has been put into enhancing the digital interfaces of Hindi GECs. The efforts would not only mean digital presence, but also engagement on the platforms, which is low as compared to other genres. So how digital-ready are the Hindi GECs?
Sanjay Gupta, COO, STAR India said, “We are looking at consumption on devices beyond TV in a big way. Therefore, we are looking to engage with consumers in a very meaningful way.” He was referring to Star Sports’ association with Vodafone to promote a digital sports marketing initiative, called ‘Vodafone Sports Portal’. The portal will be powered by Star Sports.
As part of the initiative, Vodafone users will have access to all Star Sports properties on their mobile. This year, Star will also stream IPL live on starsports.com. India has 110 million mobile internet users, out of which 25 million users are from rural India, which gives a huge market for channels to capitalise on.
Is the Hindi GEC audience shifting to digital?
Industry observers believe that though the shift is sporadic, it is happening gradually. Experts suggest that the audience being catered to by the Hindi GECs is primarily women, who are used to appointment viewing. The shift will be slow or close to nothing in the near future. But gradually, audiences in this genre will emulate the digital prospects of other genres.
“Primary audience of Hindi GECs are appointment based. One would not expect them to watch programmes on the move. However, there is a large number of working women who watch Hindi GECs. One can expect them to be on the move and, therefore, they would be the prime target for mobile viewing,” said a senior media planner on condition of anonymity, adding, “Planners generally keep a very low budget for digital medium of the channels. However, Hindi GECs try to sell their digital interfaces as if it is ‘the’ medium.”
Ajit Mohan, Head of Digital Business, STAR India remarked, “I am confident that gradually the audiences loyal to the Hindi entertainment genre will be shifting to the digital medium. This would happen in the younger generation, who is also interested in watching daily soaps. The pace would be slow as compared to the other genres. However, one cannot say that loyal audiences in the Hindi GEC space are immune to a digital shift.”
Are Hindi GECs present on common digital interfaces?
All the channels have a presence on Facebook and Twitter. Hindi GECs are also present either through mobile apps or content aggregators such as Ditto TV and Sony Liv (exclusively for MSM channels).
How active are channels on digital?
Most updates are about new initiatives and upcoming shows. All the channels have a wall, theme images or updates on an upcoming show. Life OK displays a cover photo of ‘Mahadev’, which has been its most successful show. However, the number of contests as compared to other genres (sports, movies and English GECs) is very low.
Some CEOs and channel heads are also active digitally with a considerable number of followers. They too act as catalysts in pulling the potential audiences of the Hindi GEC space, for example, Raj Nayak of Colors and Punit Goenka of the ZEE Group.