Shake ups are imminent in the media industry in 2023: PTC’s Rabindra Narayan

“PTC has always been on a growth path. From regional we went global. From three channels we went to six. We now have an OTT platform too. Besides producing more than 80% of the original Punjabi television content worldwide, we have now forayed into web-series and curated events,” says Rabindra Narayan, Managing Director and President of PTC Network.

In this interview with Adgully, he talks about how Team PTC showed resilience in surmounting the challenges posed by the pandemic, the future of TV medium, the trends in the industry, etc. He feels that broadcasting is going to be more localised and individual-oriented. Excerpts from the interview:

Does the TV medium today continue to be the preferred medium for brands and advertisers as it was say about five or ten years ago? Has the advertising landscape changed with the arrival of digital?

The TV medium has been facing competition from digital in a big way. However, the major portion of ad spends is still on TV. Digital is catching up and will take some time. The landscape is changing, but the digital medium still remains a majorly town and city audience-specific medium. Majority of India lives in rural areas, which still have Internet connectivity issues and smartphone availability issues. So, the digital reach still has a long way to go.

How has the pandemic affected the PTC? How has the advertising spending been in 2022? Did you witness any shifts in brands’ behaviour and business models during the pandemic?

Like everyone, PTC Network, too, suffered during pandemic times. More so, because unlike other businesses, there was no “work from home” for news and TV channels. Operating in the field in adverse circumstances and still keeping the channels going 24x7 was a big challenge. However, the team quite lived up to it. We lost three crucial team members to COVID. Advertising is always the first casualty in any crisis. Business dried up, while the spends increased due to the protocols to be followed and extra efforts to be made. But Team PTC is a tough team and resilient. We have come out on top. We didn’t have to lay off any employees or withhold salaries. Advertising is also limping back to normal. The advertising brands are more cautious now. The supply chain is not yet fully geared up and hence, the demand is barely being met. Brands also discovered the digital route to reach specific audiences at a cheaper rate. Hopefully everything will be back in place soon.

What are your expectations and forecasts for 2023? What were the innovative strategies and campaigns for advertising onboarding?

2023 will be a year of consolidation and rationalisation. In the media industry, shake ups are imminent. Music and movie channels are fast becoming redundant as OTT is taking up their space. Streaming platforms have almost finished the role of music channels as music is now available on demand to suit an individual’s taste. Brand integrations and innovative programming with product integrations will be the order of the day.

What are your future plans? Is any diversification plan in the offing? What is your vision for PTC two-three years from now?

We have always been on a growth path. From regional we went global. From three channels we went to six. We now have an OTT platform too. Besides producing more than 80% of the original Punjabi television content worldwide, we have now forayed into web-series and curated events. We have a film distribution & production unit and we are perhaps the only company in the world which produces one original one-hour feature film every week. We are also into VR and again perhaps the only company in the world which does LIVE 360 degrees Virtual Reality telecast every day. All our ground events are also in VR. We have just expanded to Uttar Pradesh and have launched a digital news channel, PTC News UP, which has met with great success in a very short span of time. More such ventures are in the offing.

Streaming platforms like Amazon Prime are increasingly investing in sports rights. Will we see the gradual shifting of sports content, especially the live streaming of sports, from linear TV to streaming platforms? Do you see a distant threat to TV in the long run?

OTT and TV will co-exist. Sports and other software will soon be available on both platforms. It will be consumed on-the-go on OTT and with family at home.

BARC has been mired in controversy over the ratings imbroglio. Do you think that it is even remotely possible to find a solution to the BARC controversy that will satisfy all the stakeholders?

Of course, there are solutions. But the point is that unless the ratings agency is freed from the control of broadcasters and advertisers, who have vested interest, nothing will progress. Why can’t an eco-system be developed wherein content is rated and not TV channels? Why can’t we have viewership data coming in from all DTH boxes, all addressable cable boxes and all digital streams and then collated into a single rating unit? Why can’t JIO give its own rating since it has return data analysis available from every single mobile phone and set top box it has sold? Solutions exist, but those who control the advertising money do not want to labour. They are happy guzzling the bucks based on a few thousand metres, which have seen misuse a number of times.

What, according to you, will be the key trends in the broadcasting sector in 2023?

Broadcasting is going to be more localised and individual-oriented. Events and programmes will reflect the hopes and aspirations of the real India. The fiction series will shift from high society soap operas to stories about a village teacher, an office clerk, a dedicated police officer and unsung heroes from our neighbourhood. The golden era for content is on its way.


News in the domain of Advertising, Marketing, Media and Business of Entertainment