Has Sony finally found the winning formula
Buy asics shoes betting on programming people is helping the broadcaster win audiences and close the gap with rivals. But this is not the first buy asics shoes time that it is within striking distance of the top slot.
Sony Entertainment Television, the Indian broadcast arm of Sony Corporation, the $74billion Japanese consumer electronics giant, is finally getting its act together. In the last three years, its revenues have more than doubled to an estimated Rs 3,000 crore. That brings it within breathing distance of Zee, but still far from Star’s broadcasting revenues. (See table.) Where it beats both Star and Zee conclusively is in audience gains over the last three years. Its share of viewership in the total Hindi market has gone up by 50 per cent because of Sab TV and a resurgent where to buy asics running shoes Sony, its flagship channel. It is now the clear number two in the bellwether segment of the Rs 34,000 crore television broadcast maket Hindi. More important, with Indian Premier League and films its total share of audiences or network share has grown by over 30 per cent. “For the next two years we will continue to grow at the same rate as the last three, says COO NP Singh. Sony or Multi Screen Media is now one of the biggest contributors to the $7.4 billion topline for Sony Pictures, the broadcast and film arm of Sony Corp. The other big market is Latin America.
Not surprisingly there is some goodnatured questioning of its success. Sony has always been the odd one. It has done good programming, been an advertisers’ favourite and yet never quite made it to the top. It almost became number one several times, especially under its earlier, somewhat mercurial CEO Kunal Dasgupta. In 2008, when former consultant Man Jit Singh was hoisted as CEO by the bosses in Los Angeles, the ‘who is he’ buzz went around. Back then Sony had its back to the wall. After roughly the same number of years in the business, it was at less than half the revenue and audience share of Star or Zee. The highlight of its programming was CID repeats. Sony looked lost.
As it basks in its success, analysts watching the hypercompetitive broadcast industry are asking the inevitable question: can Sony take a shot at the muchmissed number one slot, a position Star occupies currently? “We won’t be breaking the bank to do that. We are focused on consistency in our performance, says an emphatic Singh.
People, programming and processes
Consistency, focus and empowerment are words that come up frequently buy asics shoes in our daylong meetings with the Sony brass. “Much of this (the turnaround) has happened because we worked to a very clear strategy, says Man Jit Singh.
This essentially had three key elements. The first was a clear buy asics shoes focus on programming. “Getting fiction right was critical. It is the single largest contributor to GRPs (gross rating points, a measure of viewership) because it gets loyal viewers and fiction is our strength. So we worked hard on that, says Singh. Sony has a history of backing good fiction with shows such as Heena, CID, Jassi and Bhanwar in the late ’90s and early parts of the millennium. (Click for graphs)
However, while it was going through its corporate upheaval, both society and the nature of television viewing were changing. By 2008 when the dust was settling at Sony it was clear that all the three broadcasters were floundering on the fiction front because an unknown channel called Colors, launched in that year, beat them all. Cable television penetration was growing faster in smalltown India creating new audiences with different aspirations. In the meantime, metros and top towns were splintering and declining, thanks to the internet and smart devices. There was no longer a mass audience that would give any show a doubledigit rating score.
To get its fiction strategy right, “we researched a lot and decided that we wanted to offer shows that would allow women to live their dreams through their children. That is the sentiment that we found echoed across demographics, says Man Jit. With a sharpened positioning and a viewer that the company identified as the 18 to 35yearold woman, mythically named Kusum, Sony invested in a slew of new shows. Bade Achhe Lagte Hain became one of the biggest hits on Hindi television in 2011. Next came Kya Hua Tera Vaada and Saas Bina Sasural, among others. Then came the audacious bid for Kaun Banega Crorepati, its big nonfiction gambit. This paid off with audience and advertising gains.
The second was getting its network right. The two biggest successes in the Sony stable have been Sab TV and MAX. Over three years ago, Sab TV was at a miserable 23 GRPs, the cumulative viewership of the channel in a week.
For the last 18 months it has done an average of 125 GRPs. Much of this has come not from pushing the channel down the trade’s throat with more carriage fees, but by focussing on programming. Sab changed track from “being a youth entertainment channel to a lighthearted family one. We decided to propagate the positives of the joint family instead of the negatives like the other GECs (general entertainment channels), says Anooj Kapoor, executive vicepresident and business head, Sab TV. Tarak Mehta Ka Oolta Chasma and RK Laxman Ki Duniya among others keep family audiences with the Sony family. Sab is one of the biggest reasons for Sony’s mammoth jump in the Hindi markets.
MAX, arguably the only blended channel after Doordarshan, carries movies, sports and event programming. “IPL alone brings in average ratings of 3.4 over 54 days, says Neeraj Vyas, executive vicepresident and business head, MAX. Add to that its movie library and average GRPs hover around 130, says he. That brings it on par with Sab TV or any secondrung Hindi GEC. The third prong of the Sony strategy has been building management depth and width.
It has today, says one human resource consultant, one of the best teams in the business. To Man Jit’s credit, he has worked largely with the same team that Dasgupta had. The big hire has been human resource head Smriti Krishna who has gone beyond salary and performance appraisal to an ideas lab and succession planning. These are things unheard of in most large media companies in India.
You could find several flaws with Sony’s extreme focus on people, programming and building its organisation. The biggest is the complete lack of a regional business. In 2009, it acquired the Bangla Channel 8 (now Sony Aath) and that is it. In the same time, Star, which did not have a decent regional play till then, has gone hyperactive. It snapped up Asianet in 2008, forayed into Marathi and Bangla and started investing in its Tamil channel, Star Vijay. This took the share of regional languages in Star’s top line from 5 per cent to 27 per cent. Zee already gets roughly 30 per cent of its total (advertising) revenues from regional channels. Early in 2012, Mukesh Ambani funded the merger of Network18 with Eenadu (ETV). This even while there was talk of Sony’s interest in ETV.