The television industry in India has seen a tremendous shift in the dynamics of operation over the last one and a half years. Some networks, content partners and distributors have been aggressive and have consistently remained in the news for some reason or the other. Also in the spotlight are the men (and women) who lead these television networks from the front and whose decisions either make or mar the networks’ fortunes. Following are some of the top television bosses in the country to watch out for in 2014…
Uday Shankar: STAR India’s aggressive entry into the sports genre has boosted its prospects in acquiring male viewership. Star which usually has been has been perceived as women oriented channel has aggressively invested in Cricket in India. Apart from bagging rights of all BCCI matches and buying online IPL rights Star is also the official sponsor of the Indian Cricket Team. Uday Shankar has been vocal about the fact that sports (not only cricket) have tremendous potential as far as viewership is concerned. The investments laid down by the company and Shankar’s vision will be tested this year.
NP Singh: The newly appointed CEO of MSM group, NP Singh has a daunting task of reviving Sony’s fortunes. The channel over the last one year has not been doing well and has slipped to number six in the ratings of the HSM market. Observers have indicated that things have started moving at a faster pace since Singh has taken over and Singh has also indicated reviving Sony to be his priority. The MSM group has also got aggressive in the sports genre buy making some key cricket and football acquisitions.The year would therefore decide how successful will be theinitiatives led by Singh.
Puneet Goenka: ZEE with its Q3 advertisement earnings up by 34 per cent over the last quarter will be seen as a big game changer this year. To add to the fact the earnings have risen when economy is not in a fluid state. One of the most profitable media company in present times, ZEE also launched a GEC and a movie channel last year. While the flagship channel only contributed to 20 per cent of the revenues it would be interesting to see how Under Goenka’s leadership ZEE capitalises on changing consumer sentiment. Apart from this, Goenka is the Chairman of BARC, an upcoming industry led ratings body which is scheduled to start in October. BARC and ZEE would put Goenka in focus for the year 2014.
B Saikumar: Under B Saikumar’s leadership TV 18 has consolidated its business successfully. The ETV deal with Ambani is complete and the network with its strength in news and entertainment business is expected to be more aggressive this year. Senior sources we spoke to have said that Saikumar, Group CEO, Network18 is aggressive and this has benefited the network in expanding consolidation. The network and its leader’s moves will be closely watched by the industry.
LV Krishnan: The CEO of TAM the TV ratings agency has been underscrutiny over the last one year. Although LV is highly respected in the industry but his company TAM has been under fire over inefficient ratings, small sample size and alleged manipulation of ratings. TAM has been expanding its sample size. In case Kantar gets a stay from the High Court then TAM is likely to stay and it would be interesting to watch TAM compete against the new industry body BARC and changing industry dynamics.
Arnab Goswami: Editor-in-Chief of Times Now, Arnab Goswami is the most popular TV news anchor in India today. From Online jokes to memes to fake twitter accounts; Arnab is the most talked news anchor in the country today. His show the “Newshour debate” commands almost half of the revenues for his channel. His recent interview of Rahul Gandhi generated a huge buzz in the online community. Times Now is also the leader in the English News space according to the TAM ratings. It would be interesting to see the path ahead for the channel and its face.
Jagdish Kumar and SN Sharma: The moves of the two CEOs of the major MSO networks in the country: Hathway and DEN will be closely watched by the industry. As digitization progresses there are expectations of ARPU increase and customer declaration. The MSOs have also had various issues with broadcasters and content aggregators. TV Distribution business is expected to have maximum action in the year 2014 and it would be interesting to see how both the MSOs in their respective markets deal with the change.
Rajdeep Sardesai: The Editor-In-Chief of IBN network is also one of the highest rated anchors on Indian Television. CNN-IBN as a channel also commands loyal viewership from certain sections. Media critics say that Sardesai’s style of reporting is much unbiased. He is also the brain behind CNN’s initiative “Citizen Journalist Award”. As elections approach, Sardesai and his channel will vouch for more credibility and impact in the English news space and therefore garnering attention in the coming year.
Kalanidhi Maran: The owner of Sun TV, which is known for its dominant presence in the Southern market will be keenly observed by the industry. Sun TV was recently in the news for having to dilute its outsourced ad space through content partners. This was an interesting case study for the industry and will be interesting to watch how the network which also has a robust distribution network down south is able to expand its presence in the other markets. The owner of the channel Kalanidhi Maran, who also has a strong political influence, will therefore be watched by the observers.
Rajat Sharma: India TV, has reoriented itself completely over the last few years on its presentation and news programming. Its Editor in Chief, Rajat Sharma and his flagship show, ‘Aap Ki Adalat’ has been very popular with the masses. As far as HSM ratings are concerned the channel still trails behind AAJ TAK and ABP news. “After reaching the top in 2009, we started 'cleaning up'. I told my team no more snakes and ghosts, the focus should be on news. I can say that today, India TV has the highest news content amongst the top three Hindi news channels”, he was quoted saying in an interview. Among prominent Hindi Journalists he will be keenly watched in the year 2014.
Raghav Bahl: From launching the Network18 Group to consolidating it to its present position, Bahl has been instrumental in crafting successful joint ventures with media giants like CNBC, NBC Universal, Viacom, Time Warner, Forbes, A&E Networks and GS Homeshopping (Korea) in the past. His moves in the era of digitised television and highly cluttered news space will be closely watched by media veterans and observers.