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MSM to beef up its sports content; to launch ‘Suryaputra Karna’ by June-end

Multi Screen Media CEO NP Singh talks about the performance of the network channels as well as the content strategy to garner larger share of the eyeballs

Aanchal Kohli | Mumbai | June 17, 2015

NP Singh NP Singh

Multi Screen Media (MSM), which offers a bouquet of channels across genres – Sony Entertainment Television (SET), Max, Sab TV, Pix, Mix, Six, Kix, Sony Pal and digital channel Liv – today commands over 400 million viewers in the Indian sub-continent and the South Asian Diaspora.

During the launch of a show on one of its channels, caught up with NP Singh, Chief Executive Officer, Multi Screen Media, who spoke about the performance of the various network channels as well as the plans ahead.

One of the newest additions to the network, Sony Pal, had not been doing as well as expected. However, after revamping its content strategy in which Sony Pal started airing repeat shows from its sister GECs – Set and Sab TV – the channel has been gaining the momentum. Commenting on the same, Singh said, “We will continue the same strategy for Sony Pal till the time we reach a threshold of introducing original content on the channel. Our objective while launching the channel was to appeal to the heartland of the audience and in some way Sony Pal has managed to do that. Though the repeats have made the channel strengthen its viewership, but eventually we will be looking at launching more original shows on Sony Pal.”

Speaking on the ratings under the BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) system, he said that it was too early to comment on the ratings, but from a trends perspective, he said, “The trend we saw six weeks ago has continued and it is encouraging”.

Indian Premier League (IPL), the group’s flagship property witnessed yet another successful season this year. According to Singh, “IPL has been growing bigger and better every year. Last season was unique as it was played right in the middle of the elections, hence it will be unfair to compare this season (Season 8) with last season. This season witnessed a 20 per cent growth in terms of viewership, which marks the strength of the property.”

Also, in Season 8, IPL saw the introduction of regional feeds, which received positive response. Singh mentioned that they did not sell IPL separately on five language feeds and as far as viewership was concerned, the highest viewership came from the Hindi language feed on Sony Max, followed by English and then from the regional feeds. “Looking at the response, we will continue with this strategy in terms of viewership, but in terms of sales we might try to sell some languages separately as well. Also, within IPL high definition (HD) has also done extremely well this year. All these mark a major growth in terms of viewership as well as revenues, which show the demand for HD content in our country,” he added.

Apart from a new channel in the GEC space, MSM also launched its second sports channel, Sony Kix, this year in April with an aim to broadcast programmes on sports and entertainment in India. As part of its line-up, Kix aired the Pepsi IPL. When asked about the content strategy, Singh replied, “We have always focused on aggregating and strengthening our sports properties which are currently on air on Sony Six and in some cases on Sony Pix too. With Kix coming in, we have the opportunity for multiple channel feeds and that is something we did with IPL. Not only that, but it also gives us an opportunity to air more sports content which was erstwhile sitting on other channels of the network. We are acquiring rights for more properties, which will be announced as and when time comes.”

During the launch of Sony Kix, the channel had mentioned that they will be airing the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Australian Open Tennis Championship, National Football League (NFL), Rugby World Cup 2015, premier fight sports properties such as Glory World Series and CSI Boxing, alongside some marquee events in football and rugby.

Speaking about the plans for Sony Entertainment Television, Singh highlighted the fact that as of now what was working the most on the channel was their show in the 10 pm slot, ‘Maharana Pratap’, followed by ‘Itna Karo Ma Mujhe Pyaar’. He also stated that post IPL, the newly launched show, ‘Sankatmochan Mahabali Hanuman’, had also started working in their favour. Stating the further plans, he said, “By the end of this month, we will be launching another show, ‘Suryaputra Karna’, which comes across as a strong property for the channel as the story of Karna has never been told on any other channel. Moreover, ‘Indian Idol Junior’ has also been performing well and simultaneously the old and faithful shows – ‘CID’, ‘Aahat’ and ‘Crime Patrol’ – have also been working well for us.”

Apart from the television channels, MSM Motion Picture tasted success with the Amitabh Bachchan-starrer ‘Piku’, for which the group joined hands with Yash Raj Films. To take the action ahead, MSM is now geared for ‘Azhar’, a biopic, which they are co-producing with Balaji Motion Pictures. ‘Azhar’ is set for release by May 2016.

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