This is our time to shine: Raj Nayak

It was in mid 2011 that Raj Nayak took over as Chief Executive Officer of Colors, the Hindi GEC from Viacom 18 stable. Today both Colors and Rishtey come under his purview. A people’s person who believes in leading from the front, he is known for his keen eye for detail, his perseverance and his quick decision making. To add to it, he is admired for keeping his cool in the toughest of situations. He is as involved with the creative content of Colors and Rishtey as he is in taking business calls. Colors climb to the number One position in Hindi GEC can be largely attributed to his leadership skills.

Raj has now taken over as the President, Ad Cub of Bombay as well. Knowing the way he works, one can sure expect increase in the richness of Ad Club offering.

Zeba Anwar of had an in-depth conversation with Raj on his plans for the Ad Club and his channels; the discussion also encompassed advertising and media industry at large and advent of digital in specific. Read on….

AG: September has been an excellent month for you. You took over as the President of Ad Club and your channel dethroned the market leader. What do you have to say to this?

RN: It has been a good month for me and my team. I think we got our high ratings on Ganesh Chaturthi day. If you walk into my room you will find a lot of Ganesh there.

The Ad Club job was a little bit of surprise as I had not been mentally prepared for it until the last moment but my colleagues and peers persuaded me to take it on. For me this is a very challenging job.

I am learning as I am still not aware of the dynamics of the club. There are people who have a lot of experience in this department, whereas my job is to build on that experience and take it to the next level. I have built a team very carefully of ideas defying people. When we go ahead, I will specifically have task for digital people as to what should be the vision and how do we get there.

AG: Digital has become a force to reckon with. Would we see an improved presence of Ad Club on digital platform?

RN: The idea behind the Ad Club twitter handle is that anything interesting will get curated to everyone. We are looking forward to having an Ad Club Facebook page and Ad Club website so to make it more inclusive, bringing in a lot of people from agencies, and also to get more engagement pan India for clients because we are more Mumbai centric except for Goafest and Emvies etc. Also most of the events happen in Mumbai, so how to engage with the other ad clubs in the rest of the country and make it more inclusive at all India level needs to be considered.

AG: Would we see the Raj Nayak touch in the Ad Club events and award shows in the year to come?

RN: I don’t know as to what is the Raj Nayak touch. The only thing I believe in is to do my job sincerely and it to the best of my ability. Everything that happens after that is the effort of the team that works on it; they are the people who create it. I think that being the captain of the ship I just take the credit for it.

AG: Coming to Colors, your endeavour has paid off. What have been the strategic decisions that led to its rise to number one position?

RN: It includes ingredients of sincere hard work, proper planning, and the team that has been working very hard. They have been trying different things by being a little bolder.  I feel certain that there is no formula to it, just that sometimes all things come together and I feel that this is our time to shine.

AG: You have never shied away from taking risks, how do you maintain that momentum?

RN: We will not shy away even in the future. That is there in the Colors DNA, it has nothing to do with me. The differentiated content and the ability to take risk have been in the Colors DNA even before I joined the company.

AG: How involved are you in deciding the programming mix of the channel?

RN: I am 100% involved. Having said that, our programming head Manisha Sharma is the final decision maker and is also completely involved. I let her make the final decisions because she at the end of the day is accountable for the ratings of the channel.

AG: What are the newer elements that will be brought into the content strategy so to say?

RN: There is nothing new that we are working on in terms of content strategy. If we are doing well why change what has been working for us. Moving forward we intend to consolidate it and build on what we have been working on so far.

AG: Are you working on a fiction or non-fiction format in the coming time?

RN: There are many shows that we are working on in the fiction and non-fiction format. We have started with ‘Bigg Boss Nau’ and in the coming next two-three months we will be launching more new shows.

AG: What time bands are you looking at strengthening going forward?

RN: We have not decided and that’s the challenge as in which show to be removed and which show to fit in. I think that will all depend on the show that we finally shortlist and will help in deciding what to do and how to do going forward.

AG: Bigg Boss has been shifted to 10.30 timeline right now. Do you think this strategy will help strengthen prime time for Colors?

RN: Our research has shown that the best time for Big Boss has been after 10. See a lot of people want to watch Big Boss but time constraint has been a huge factor in urban India as they come home around 10 pm, whereas the other factor is the repeats become too late. We would have loved to do it at 10 pm but as you can see that out of top 10 shows top 6 are from Colors and 10 pm slot ‘Meri Ashiqui Tumse hai’ is doing well. It’s very difficult to build a fictional show at a new timeline so we have put Bigg Boss at 10.30 pm. Also shows have fared well at 11 pm for eg Comedy Nights with Kapil. So I think if the content is good people will watch it.

We have also done events which have aired at late timing and people have watched it. So I don’t think the time frame is an issue, the basic need is for the content to be good.

AG:You have also brought in a new comedy show; do you not think that it will somewhere affect Comedy Nights with Kapil?

RN: No. You should not be surprised if we have two more comedy shows on the channel. I am not saying that we are doing it. The reason is if you have a great idea and a great show, unless you try it you will never know. And if you don’t try it somebody else is going to do it. So we believe that it is better to let it be within our own system than somebody else trying it.

AG: Balika Vadhu has undergone a lot of phases. How do you look at strengthening it?

RN: Balika Vadhu has now come to a phase where it has got a completely new life. The ratings are good and I believe that it has got a minimum of two years of life in it. We look forward for it to continue as it has a completely new storyline now.

AG: Where do you see the channel going from here?

RN: Our endeavour is to build from here, consolidate our lead and move forward. As I believe we can only give it a 100% shot and the rest is not in our hand so we leave it all on the viewers to decide.

AG: A lot of energies are being pumped into Rishtey now. How do you see the brand evolving?

RN: It’s a well-known brand in the country, everyone has known Rishtey. The only factor remains that large media investment has not been made into Rishtey and one of the reasons was that our focus was to build Colors.

We don’t think the job is still complete for Rishtey, we still think that there is a long way to go. Maybe by next year you will see us putting some efforts to consolidate and build it to have a much better position in the market.

AG: Talking of industry at large, how do you see television being impacted by rapid digital growth?

RN: They will complement each other; they won’t grow at the cost of each other.

AG: Do you see television moving from being an appointment viewing to viewing on demand courtesy digital?

RN: I don’t think so, there are some people who want to work and there are others who just don’t want to do the hard work, they want to sit and be fed. I don’t think television will cease in India for the next 5-6 years as such.

AG: You yourself have made significant investments on the digital front. Do you see it as the need of the hour?

RN: But there is a difference. When you talk to people they think only mobile is digital, DTH today is digital. The future will belong to content and the content will be distributed on different platforms. It will be platform neutral, consumption may happen on different devices but the real job that we do is we own a brand called Colors Channel and we are content curators.

As we move forward, we will start creating content keeping in mind that it will be platform neutral and it will have audiences on different platforms. The shows will get tweaked depending on where our consumption is and there will be some content which will be created specifically for digital but that does not mean television as a medium will die.


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