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2020 H2 will be stronger than the previous year: Nina Elavia Jaipuria of Viacom18

In an interaction with, Jaipuria, Head, Hindi Mass Entertainment and Kids TV Network at Viacom18, talks about the network’s expectation from 2021 and their plans ahead

Nina Elavia Jaipuria

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic disrupting the television industry in terms of advertising revenues in 2020, the recovery for Colors in Q3 has been excellent, says Nina Elavia Jaipuria, Head, Hindi Mass Entertainment, and Kids TV Network at Viacom18.

“I must admit that Q1 and Q2 were subdued for obvious reasons. We know most advertisers had gone off air and supply chains were in trouble and retail was not working. However, the recovery was with revenge. We came with a Q3 that was fabulous for us not only leveled year on year but we grew slightly over the previous year as well,” she said.

“The future looks promising as well because macroeconomics looks good, the consumer demand has grown, I can see that advertisers have continuously used television to engage audiences and increase share of voice for their brands. Television being a mass medium serves like no other medium would. I think it is a medium that is here to stay for a while and therefore we feel very strongly and I am hopeful that the H2 we will see this year will be stronger than H2 of the previous year” she added.

Jaipuria said they will continue to invest in differentiated content across genres in 2021.  “We will continue to be the differentiated brand that we are. We believe in giving differentiated disruptive trends across genres to our viewers, we have a very healthy balance of fantastic primetime fiction shows. We have a very strong weekend with our non-fiction reality shows. Soon after Bigg Boss, we will start with Dance Deewane. We have a very robust calendar where we will continue on with our social commentary and will continue with reality. We will continue with non-fiction action adventure and we will look at dance. Colors is perhaps the only brand that has a very fine mix of impact and fiction. We will continue to have a healthy robust primetime viewership.”

She said the non-prime time has been performing well for them and they will continue to focus on that.  “I think for the first time in the lockdown we also had very healthy growth in non-prime time and hope to continue with the same trend of keeping your viewers entertained even in the non-prime time. That is going to continue as a strategy for FY 21.  I must say that non-Prime Time has come back to its pre-COVID days but our non-prime time is healthier than it used to be and we are in a happy place. From a business perspective, we hope to continue to invest in telling stories which are relatable, relevant, and have the capacity to be very inclusive and bond families together.”

Digital and Linear will grow together

Jaipuria said the acceleration of digital in 2020 has resulted in TV and OTT being intertwined in the last 10 months. “There has been no other time where TV and OTT have come together and provided entertainment to viewers. They have become intertwined in the last 10 months. I totally believe TV and digital are going to grow together and will continue to do so in FY 21.”

 She said the sheer demand for content has increased to a level where content creators are delighted. “There is a lot of experimentation with content and as Viacom 18 I hope we are able to do justice to it from our linear broadcast which is the mix of all our brands. A lot of content is being created and the consumer is consuming it from whatever screen they like. All the content we create on Nick is also available on Voot Kids to consume and I am delighted to say that out of the top 10 shows on Voot kids, top 7 are Nick shows. Similarly, on Voot Select we have Bigg Boss getting a whole lot of engagement and interactivity,”she said.

Speaking about their marketing plans, Jaipuria said they will focus on going back to on-ground activations. “I think we would like to engage with our viewers across various mediums and platforms, and not necessarily only through screens so that's an expectation we have, and we want to make sure that we go back on ground and we do the Golden Petal Awards that we have for Colors and engage with our audiences and on Kids with school contact program. We hope to engage, curate and create events that we have done in the past. So we would like to be in malls, trams and trains and schools and back in our community where we belong.”

When asked about Bigg Boss 14’s performance this year, she said the show has always had its highs and lows and it continues to be a top-performing show for the channel. “It is a show that caters to a very large fan base. I'm pretty sure the fan base is watching us. From a weekend perspective, it is right up there. It is our top show on the weekend and Salman is carrying out his magic and with Rakhi Sawant and Rahul Mahajan (who has been evicted recently), we have a lot of new things happening on the show. According to me, it has been a very consistent deliverer and over a period of time it has become a phenomenal reality show because it is the only unscripted show on television.”  

She said it cannot outperform and outshine itself every year. “We are not saying it is not working for us because it is our top-performing show on the weekend. It’s also about the mix of the contestants in the house.   It is about how we've been able to pull off the show as it has been very hard for us to do so in the lockdown. But having said that, I think we put ourselves out there in the center because Bigg Boss is synonymous with COLORS. Despite just coming out of the lockdown, we had 17 sponsors. Which was a very big deal and that should tell you the kind of fan base and the loyal base that has continued to watch Bigg Boss season after season,” said Jaipuria.

Content needs to be inclusive

Speaking about the past year’s experience, Jaipuria said storytelling needs to be inclusive and relatable.  “It is being viewed with family now and television is seen as a way of spending family time. We are telling stories that are inclusive in nature and targeting the simplistic human emotions that leads to family bonding. We are looking at stories and characters that are very inclusive and relatable.”

They have embraced technology and figured how to entertain audiences in the absence of fresh content by focusing on their library shows and mythology with shows like Om Namah Shivay, Ram Siya ke Luv Kush, Balika Vadhu and Na Aana is Des Laado. “Even after the lockdown some of these nostalgic shows continue to be favorites and continue to give healthy ratings in our non-prime time. The big learning for us has been that we need to learn the sentiment of our viewers and as an entertainment brand we need to be out there for them when they need us the most,” said Jaipuria.

Speaking about the kid’s category, she said Nick and Sonic were already ready with some new content just before the lockdown was announced, which gave both the channels a great summer. “The genre had moved to a 9% genre share of the total. However, it did stabilize back to 7% when GECs returned with original programming. Even at 7%, because the total viewership has grown, the stability for kids’ category is much higher than the pre-COVID period,” said Jaipuria. 

“The kids’ category is flying high and for the seventh year in a row, Nickelodeon has been the no.1 channel. I am happy to say that Sonic has also made it to the top and as a franchise now we deliver a 32% market share, which is 1/3rd of the category. It has not been easy entertaining kids from home, and ensuring to be there when they needed us the most,” she added.

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