World is My Home: Raj Nayak, CEO Colors
Eight years on, Colours continues to grow from strength to strength taking on every challenge thrown in its path helped by the incredible idea that differentiates the brand from others. An insightful chat with Raj Nayak, CEO, COLORS, the flagship channel of Viacom 18 Media
Colors has successfully completed eight years. Stepping back, how has been the journey as a leader and how does it look ahead as you step into the second decade?
Colors turned 8 this July. The journey so far has been very challenging, exciting, and of course rewarding. The experience has been beautiful. To be one of the last players in the GEC space and still be counted among the leaders in this space is satisfying. Over the last 8 years, our team has been at the forefront of disruption, innovation, cutting edge technology and high production values. We have taken that leap of faith in experimenting with new ideas, concepts, stories, shows, some of which have been hugely successful. Today, Colors is not only the leader in India but is also the favourite channel in the Indian diaspora transcending over 150 countries where we telecast. Brand Colors today has also made its presence in the regional space with Colors Marathi, Colors Kannda, Super Colors, Colors Bengali, Colors Odiya and Colors Gujarati. We now also have an English GEC channel in India called Colors Infinity. The Petal continues to spread its wings.
What's the biggest challenge in satisfying viewers week after week for years together to be in top of the GES league?
The challenge, and this is not just true for COLORS but for all broadcasters is to engage with the viewers day in and day out, identify and curate stories that touch an emotional chord and build a relationship with the consumers. The irony and the nature of this business is that there is no fixed formula for success. The taste of the consumers and their preferences keep changing and what you thought worked today will not necessarily work tomorrow. You have to keep experimenting & reinventing all the time. And that is where the experience and understanding of the team comes into play. The viewership data keeps fluctuating quite a bit and now with weightages being shuffled with market expansion, the dynamics also keep evolving, because at the end of the day you like it or not, that’s the currency on which you are measured. Another challenge is the growing cost of talent and it is funny that in a country of 1.4 billion, we still talk about talent crunch, especially on the creative side. Truth be told, this is a big challenge.
Colors' successful TV Formats : Bigg Boss
The immediate future looks very different for content, platforms and consumers -- when we visualize (4G, virtual reality)? Where are we heading?
Really? How come we don’t see it that way? As far as I foresee, the next 10 years will be the golden era for content curators like us. To start with, the television penetration continues to grow. We are in just 160 million households out of 275 million homes and we are expected to add at least another 70 million homes in the next 3-5 years, which has the potential to grow the viewership by another 40%. This is huge. Statistics has shown that the average TV viewing time has been consistently growing. Besides this, now we will be able to also deliver our content through the digital platforms. Now with companies like Reliance Jio making broadband easily accessible and making it easier to view content without buffering, it will enhance the viewer experience through these platforms. This will create additional viewers and incremental monetization opportunity for us. Having launched our own OTT platform - Voot, our viewers will not only be able to catch up and watch content as per their convenience but will be also able to binge watch some of our popular serials. So I would say the future seems bright & exciting.
Do you see visible changes happening around media business today? The transformation is towards digital. Has it impacted general entertainment channels?
There is digital transformation taking place, no doubt about it, but this transformation is not happening at the cost of television. GEC channels are growing at almost 15% to 20% CAGR and I don’t see this trend changing in the next few years. In fact with new revenue streams opening up, it will only further benefit GEC channels. The way we see digital is another form of technology to deliver content. This is a golden era for content creators and curators like us.
Colors' successful TV programme: Jhalak Dikhlaa Jaa
Colors Channel has been one of the major drivers of the Viacom 18 group's revenues. What has been contributing to its growth?
If I have to put it simply, we have a great sales team. Having said that, Colors as a brand is in the General Entertainment Space and it is natural that its contribution will be high since its audience base is high.
Every decision we make as a team has to pass through a filter which is - Will the show rate for us? Will it help build perception for the channel? Will we be able to monetize? Will it add to the topline? How will it impact the bottom line etc etc. Sometimes a show may not necessarily be profitable but it helps build the equity of the channel or helps drive in new audiences. So there a number of factors we take into consideration while making decisions. The intent is that every show we put on-air must either give us ratings or revenue. But the primary factor being that we are here for profitability and therefore we don’t take our eye of the ball when it comes to acting objectives that we set for ourselves in meeting the topline and bottom-line.
The fact that 4 to 5 of our shows constantly feature in the Top 10 Hindi GEC shows’ list, we have multiple slot leaders in the Prime Time and that we are the Hindi GEC destination which most consistently delivers non-fiction impact properties through the year – play an important role in us being able to soar up the revenues.
In the traditional versus new emerging screens monetization is still tilted towards Cable & DTH viewership? Do you see changes in the immediate future?
There is fair amount of money going into digital and it will continue to grow. But that is true for any new medium... see how radio has grown in last 10 years. In the short run it may impact certain niche channels, and I was reading an article recently where the trend is that money is shifting back to television. There are lot of areas which digital has to address as a medium, first and foremost transparency, then third party and independent measurement system, and the biggest challenge being what impact does the creatives have on the small screen. The way I see it at least for the foreseeable future, digital will compliment television and both will coexist & the success of either medium will not come at the cost of the other.
Do you think television will continue to be the efficient way for an advertiser to reach a wide audience -- especially in India?
Absolutely! TV is here to stay… Even in the most advanced market – US – traditional TV continues to be the most effective medium for advertisers. When you look at our country, TV is by far the most efficient and the cheapest medium for advertisers to reach their target audiences. Just look at the differences in reach of TV vs. Print or any other medium and look at the size of advertising for each of these mediums, and you will have your answer.
The way TV is consumed in India, it is not just an entertainment medium – it is a way of socializing. It is an inclusive medium for families to get together and spend quality time together! A picture of a gathering of 20-25 young men from different villages (some travelling from nearby villages), sitting in front of a common TV in a village which has access to electricity and to cable / satellite television to watch their favourite show, is a common one in our country .Yes traditional TV is here to stay and shall remain the most effective way to reach a wide base of audience .
Colors' successful TV programme: Naagin
In the new emerging platforms, there seems to be more innovation on the technology side than on content creation. Your comments...
Content is an evolving business and you create new content ever hour every day. Now even technology companies are venturing into the content business. Technological innovations will keep happening and that is a good thing as it will only help enhance the viewing experience for the end consumer. Technologies, platforms etc may evolve and change but content will always be here to stay.
Disruptions continue to hit the legacy of M&E industry. But there are very few entrepreneurial disruptors in Indian media and showbiz space. Your comments? What are the disruptions that you would like to see in the Indian broadcast space?
I agree with you, disruptors in the true sense are few and far between in the Indian media space. The broadcasters, including ourselves, aren’t willing to take big enough risks by experimenting significantly with either content or delivery mechanisms. I would like to see the Indian broadcast space to move towards how Hollywood and the US TV space function. We have laid the foundation with experiments like 24, Bigg Boss and Naagin, I would like to see more of such formats making its presence felt on Indian Television. Structured programming, with significant forward planning will be possible once the risk taking appetite of the broadcasters increase.
I would like to believe with digitization (DAS) in its true sense, broadcasters will start getting a fair share of the distribution revenue that will help us reduce our dependency on advertising as more evolved markets will act as an enabler for broadcasters to invest more and take larger bets.
What technologies excite you in the media space. Media and technology are married and both cannot live without each other?
There is so much happening in this space. Media and technology of course are married, I am not sure how happily though, but definitely cannot live without each other! Look at the emergence of all the social media platforms, how at the click of a few keys, one can connect with the whole world in one go. Convergence has remarkably made the entire world into such a small yet deeply fascinating place. Mobile handsets have become so much more potent super computers. However, with technology, unfortunately we have not only lost our privacy but also compromised our personal touch in the social space. It is upon us to make the best of the technology, but in the bargain not necessarily leave behind generations which are socially connected only through technology and not with a personal touch.
Colors' successful TV programme: Shakthi
How do you consume content? And in how many screens? What happens at your home front?
I consume my news mainly through my twitter feed and if I’m at home I like to watch it on the big screen. If I am in an aircraft, I may consume an episode of my favourite serial on my ipad. Otherwise the thrill of watching content on big screen has its own charm. As human beings we prosper, we want a bigger car, a bigger home and a bigger TV… and my home is no different… my house help & drivers who are the biggest consumers of content watch it on the idiot box called TV.
Colors' successful TV Formats: 24 season 2
Finally, you have seen various turnarounds in the media and entertainment industry for over two decades. When you look at NOW what is the most exciting thing today?
Personally for me the evolution that has taken place in the media & entertainment space in last 20 years is fascinating. The beauty is that as we speak it is evolving every day. Who would have thought you as an individual could broadcast live via Periscope from your handphone. How a celebrity with large fan following can reach out to more number of people than any mainstream newspaper with a single tweet? You can create your own content by shooting on a hand held device and upload it on YouTube for the world to see. Or the fact that social media can help you discover long lost friends and create a new virtual life with virtual friends. You could pause Live television with a DTH box, record & program shows to watch at your convenience. The concept of TV everywhere on your ipad or hand held device is mind-blowing. Smart TV is where I can watch Netflix and app based content. The list goes on & on and every day I am learning something new.
Milestones of COLORS
Launched on 21 July 2008; COLORS occupied #3 position in the launch week itself
Broke series of Saas-Bahu sagas, offered completely differentiated content. With new stories touching viewers hearts, COLORS won them in no time
The channel became #2 in the 10th week of launch
#1 in just nine months, breaking 10 years leadership of Star Plus
With shows like Uttaran, Na Ana Iss Des Laado, Sasural Simar Ka, Madhubala and Udann, the success spree continued
Channel also transformed the old format shows like Jhalak Dikhla Jaa, with Bollywood Diva, Madhuri Dixit
First channel to introduce international finite series, a critically aclaimed ‘24’
COLORS reinvented the done to death genre of comedy with launch of Comedy Nights with Kapil; #1 non-fi ction show across its existence
In the plethora of fiction offerings, COLORS introduced finite series, changing the face of the Indian television – ‘Naagin’; #1 show across Hindi GE channels through its entire journey
Only Hindi GE channel which runs multiple successful non-fiction format shows throughout the year
Regained #1 position in Dec’15, under the BARC regime
Currently enjoys #1 position in weekday Prime Time (1900-2400)
15 Feb 2018 Issue
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