There is hardly any category that we do not try: Vivek Srivastava

The 12th edition of Goafest concluded on the night of June 8 at Grand Hyatt Goa amid much enthusiasm, expectations and a full house. The advertising industry’s biggest festival was organised by the AAAI and The Advertising Club. Amidst all the fanfare, what one couldn’t miss was the presence of Times Network. From arranging interesting quizzes and giving away some goodies to the winners till installing everyone’s favourite life-size Avenger statues for people to imitate them and pose for a happy picture, the network was all there. 

On the sidelines of the festival, Adgully caught up with Vivek Srivastava, Senior Vice President & Head - English Entertainment Cluster & Zoom at Times Network, to know more about the Times Network’s English Entertainment cluster, ad rates, AFPs, strategy and much more. Excerpts:

How was 2016 for Times Network’s English Entertainment cluster?
Last year was good for us from a cluster standpoint, despite demonetisation we have done fairly well. Movies Now has been one of the top two channels, while Romedy Now has been leading both on the series and on the movies front. A big delight last year has been Movies Now 2. Launched last year, Movie Now 2 very quickly climbed to No. 4 and has already beaten HBO, which is a competitor that we respect. 

We have been fairly aggressive as far as the business is concerned and we are investing in the business very heavily. From the content perspective, this year is going to be really very amazing. For Movies Now, there is both DC and Marvel universe coming in. Most of our effort this year also will be on Movies Now 2. That is one brand that has shown significant upsurge, so we are continuing to fuel it with much greater content so that we make this business a success in this financial year. 

There is hardly any category that we do not try. There is great excitement about the Marvel franchise that is coming to us. Disney is also with us. If you look at the Top 20 franchises in the world, we have almost 70-80 per cent of it – be it the Furious Series, Jurassic Park, Minions, Harry Potter, Batman-Superman, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, etc., so we are very confident about the content line-up that we have with us. The focus will be to build these brands to the fullest. 

What about new shows in the pipeline?
Since we are aggressive on the series side and we have a 3-hour band, the number of shows is limited. There will be new seasons coming in as well. We are also in talks to get in some new shows in the market such as ‘The Little Big Shots’, where Steve Harvey is with us. 

Are you looking for a hike in ad rates for the English cluster?
We have been the Top 2 channels and Movies Now 2 has shown resurgence. Our entire effort is to have a fresh share of that pie. 

Any new strategy in place?
As per standard stats, India is the second largest English speaking country. There is an entire segment of audience that wants to make the shift from regional to English, and here, Movies Now is the biggest offering from our side. Everyone who is moving from regional to English is moving into that part and then gradually moving on to the premier segment. It is important that we offer fresh content every time. People in this genre also have a demand in the day part, so as long as you know what audiences are coming forward for the day part, that is the key. On Saturdays we have marathons with back to back movies. If we can increase the remaining 10-15 per cent in the day part, it will have a good impact. 

From the summer standpoint there is a certain amount of seasonality, where afternoon starts becoming important, but if there are vacations going on, then prime time is placed equally with the afternoons. Seasonality has an impact, but the slots remain as they are. 

How do you see different categories of ads coming up in the English entertainment cluster?
This is a question we keep asking ourselves in the boardroom. Because there is this newer audience which is coming through. Movies Now is not the niche brand or niche category that it was 5 years back. It is mainstream now. What we are aiming for is that new brands and segments which have traditionally not been on English will start treating this medium as a mass medium. Our effort on viewership is exactly the same. So if we can showcase that mass in numbers, then obviously the advertisers will follow. You can’t operate with a small audience base. 

What about Zoom?
Zoom has been a turnaround story for us in the last six months. Ever since BARC happened and the music genre took a bit of pace, Zoom has gradually moved to No. 5 in the last six months from the earlier No. 9-No. 10. We are doing very well in the new age music segment. Zoom has always done very well in digital and we have always been among the top 10. We have a huge ecosystem that we are now starting to monetise effectively and offer to our consumers. We had launched the website last year and it was a huge success. Our social media platforms are quite large.


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