Today’s advertisers don’t buy channels based on names, they buy GRPs: Sandeep Gupta

As Chief Operating Officer - Broadcasting Business at Shemaroo Entertainment Ltd, Sandeep Gupta has, over the last 3 years, played a pivotal role in Shemaroo’s entry into the television segment. He led the organisation in its quest to reach greater heights with the launch of two new channels in Hindi and Marathi languages – Marathi movie channel Shemaroo MarathiBana and Shemaroo’s flagship Hindi GEC, Shemaroo TV, and Shemaroo Umang.

With a rich experience of over 15 years, Gupta has built a broad-based career as a veteran in media and entertainment and the finance fields. He is an industry stalwart who has not only launched many broadcast businesses, but has also been the driving force behind their success.

In conversation with Adgully, Sandeep Gupta speaks at length about Shemaroo’s foray into the GEC space, advertiser response, content strategy, content consumption trends, focus on FTA, and more.

You joined Shemaroo Entertainment during the tough pandemic period. How have you been shaping up and giving a future direction to Shemaroo’s broadcasting business?

I've been asked to come to Shemaroo so that I can shape up and set up the broadcast division. So when I came in, we didn’t have the vision to set up the broadcast business. When we started with Shemaroo Marathi, our first launch, it was a speed test, which started in the month of January itself. And we were assured that we will be able to launch the next channel, a general entertainment channel, in the month of March. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic struck the world and everything changed. All the plans had to be stalled, and we had to revisit our initial plans. There was a lack of revenue, but we just tweaked and changed certain investment plans, and we accommodated our unfortunate losses. We kept going and a year later we launched another Hindi GEC, Shemaroo Umang.

We are very positive about the FTA space. We know TV will keep growing in the FTA space and hence, we are evaluating a couple of more options to launch, maybe in regional languages or in the Hindi movies genre. We are sure that whatever we create in terms of options that will bring in more content for Shemaroo, we will definitely be helping the company grow.

Could you take us through Shemaroo’s GEC foray – Shemaroo TV was launched in 2020 and in April this year Shemaroo Umang was launched?

Shemaroo’s GEC foray started with Shemaroo TV itself; Shemaroo Umang is the second GEC. Shemaroo TV is more focused on the male TG, while Shemaroo Umang is more female oriented, where there is more drama, more romance, etc. On the other hand, there is more content related to crime and mythology on Shemaroo TV.

Free TV, as we see it, is a channel or ecosystem where people want to see the content along with their family. The consumption of TV is for family viewing, so the content is inclusive for both older audiences and the younger ones – thus, we have a very balanced mix of content. We are also coming up with multiple new launches for Shemaroo Umang and Shemaroo TV. If everything goes right, we will have maybe a couple of more launches within this financial year itself. We are planning to launch another drama as early as next month. We are also contemplating launching content that can focus more on the male audience in January 2023. At the same time, we are also looking to balance our Marathi content. We have a Marathi movie channel where we are looking to making it a mix of GEC plus movies and mythology content.

The GEC genre is a highly competitive one. How are Shemaroo’s GEC channels facing this stiff competition? What kind of advertiser response have they got so far? What are the markets that they are primarily catering to?

Every genre is competitive; we can’t shy away from the competition. What works is content – if you are able to offer the audience good content, and we are able to get this discovered in today’s world. Content offering is huge, but the biggest problem is discoverability. So, we have been working extensively to see that we are very well discovered. Fortunately enough, all our content offering has been well accepted.

We have to keep abreast of whatever content that people are consuming. We have to see if the appropriate content is being offered. There is no dearth of viewership in today’s times. The audiences are spoilt for choice. They are watching not just OTT, but Facebook and YouTube as well, along with a bit of TV. Even in the lower loads of Tier 2 and 3 cities, they have an option of watching all of their content. So, the primary focus is on creating content that is relevant for today. That’s how we are fighting for our content strategy to compete with all the other bigger or smaller broadcasters that we have

As far as advertisers for Shemaroo TV and Shemar Umang are concerned, since we are focused on the FTA audience base, no one has shied away from advertising with us. We have received a very fair advertiser response. Today’s advertiser is focused on delivery. They don’t buy channels based on names anymore, they will buy GRPs. So, if we are delivering GRPs, they will buy anybody – it is all a numbers game now. We have been fairly accepted by all the advertisers. As a Hindi GEC, we are basically focused on seven states – Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Rajasthan, and a bit of Gujarat as well. These are the markets on which we have a key focus.


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