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The BIG,Brave world of New Media

Facebook,Twitter,mobile downloads,video clips are the rage as films,TV,radio companies wake up to the immense possibilities of these new 'distribution channels'.

Facebook,Twitter,mobile downloads,video clips are the rage as films,TV,radio companies wake up to the immense possibilities of these new ‘distribution channels’.

This Republic Day,TV viewers,through a Facebook poll being conducted now,will decide 12 hours of programming on Star Movies; on Star World’s popular chat show Koffee with Karan,fans have an opportunity to visit the sets or win hampers through a ‘rapid fire challenge,’ where they can answers questions through a quiz-based application; UTV Motion Pictures is very active on Twitter and Facebook and mobile applications to promote films; BIG FM has seen its reach expand after it launched radio on mobile. Welcome to the big,brave world of new media the entertainment world in India is waking up to.

“There is a clear focus on new media,we are up to date with current trends,and heavily dependent on Twitter,Facebook,mobile,” says Shikha Kapur,VP,marketing,UTV Motion Pictures. “Of course,the extent of interactivity depends on the film,” she adds,pointing out that for Rajkumar Gupta’s No One Killed Jessica,the production house launched an interactive voice module,wherein a caller could talk to the two actresses in the film,Rani Mukherjee and Vidya Balan,and air their grievances. On day one itself,there were 5,000 calls. When UTV was releasing Delhi 6,it invited fans to choose the poster via Facebook; for Dev D,one could pick up the phone and hear Chanda’s (Kalki Koechlin) voice,“leading to phone lines being jammed”.

When Radio City ventured into the digital space with PlanetRadiocity.com in 2008,it was overwhelmed with the response and followed it up by launching a multi-genre web radio in 2009. Rachna Kanwar,VP and head of digital media and new business,Radio City 91.1 FM,says,“We have 14 lakh listeners today,which is higher than most radio stations in the country. If you put all the radio networks together,it is the tenth largest in size. Our web radio airs all kinds of music— Sufi,ghazal,hip hop,rock,Indi pop and other genres. It supplements our Radio City listenership,which is drive time. For our web radio,there are no geographic restrictions. We have separate RJs,separate music licences and a separate feed that is produced for this.”

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While new media platforms are being used strategically on a regular basis to promote programmes, whether it is for the launch of a show/film or to keep viewers engaged with an on-going show,promotions apart,TV channels,production houses and radio stations are also using new media as a distribution platform. Says Krishna Prasad,chief experience officer,Dentsu Digital,“With new media’s growing reach and popularity,more and more shows have moved from just using the medium for advertising to using the new media as another ‘distribution platform,’ where all their programmes are available for consumption online. They all started off with small clips being uploaded initially to having full shows or long form content available to users.”

Both STAR World and Movies have seen exponential growth in the new media space and seem to follow the general trend. Facebook with 20 million users in India continues to be one of the highest user engagement site. While STAR World has seen a 150 per cent growth in the last four months,it has reached 1,64,000 fans,of which 1,20,000 are active monthly users,indicating 76 per cent of the community regularly interacts with the STAR World Facebook page; STAR Movies on the other hand has seen a 165 per centgrowth in four months with a total number amounting to 1,41,000 fans,of which 84,000 are monthly active users,according to Saurabh Yagnik,GM and SVP,English Channels,Star India.

Says Prasad,“New media is where ‘your time becomes prime time.’ Users are not always available in front of the television; but with new media users can tune into their favourite programme anytime.”

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UTV Bindass’ marketing head Kunal Mukherjee is keenly watching the growth of new media. “Keeping this trend in mind,we have engaging plans using new media in the future. We already have a robust FB community and are also pretty strong in the Twitter world. We have aggressive plans to use these platforms more and more to reach out to our viewers,” he says.

So,are advertisers waking up to the prospects of new media as well? Kanwar of Radio City says as far as marketing and sales for new media are concerned,“we are building a critical mass of listeners,and now since we have a good listenership,we will be focusing more on the marketing. E ven advertisers are seeing various marketing opportunities in digital and new media. This year will see everyone capitalising on the growing Internet usage in India.”

Rahul Balyan,head,digitalinitiatives,Radio Mirchi,says,“It is too early in India to really talk about a significant marketing impact coming from the new media platforms. But new media is definitely helping us to reach out to our most passionate listeners and to engage with them in more meaningful ways.”

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It wasn’t an easy job even a couple of years ago. “Earlier,entertainment companies had to produce,upload,tag and market. Today,we can use it as a distribution platform and also earn revenues,” says Prasad. “While content availability started a couple of years back,the task was complex and tedious. Plus,entertainment companies and production houses didn’t believe in the medium.” But innovative companies like MTV tied up with MSN India to run their first edition of Splitsvilla and saw instant success.

Kapur of UTV says because new media is an interactive medium,the response is instantaneous. “You immediately get to know what people like and dislike,” she adds. Prasad takes note of the wide reach of video clips. “Video is one of the largest consumptions in the online medium; look at all the advertising happening around 3G and it is mostly about videos available online.”

All the players agree that new media is not just about promoting new shows or films and getting new users to watch them,it is slowly becoming a key ‘distribution channel.’ Prasad points at the growth of YouTube over the last couple of years and says it only shows that the outlook is very bright and there will be a day where on some shows and categories online consumption/reach will be more than what was consumed over the TV.

Balyan says online habits have changed; people don’t send emails to friends anymore as they are connected on Twitter or Facebook. “The cultural norms of private and public space online have dramatically changed; till two years ago a lot of us were still uncomfortable with sharing any personal information online,but today everyone is posting the most intimate details of their lives online,expecting others to comment. Technology isn’t the domain of geeks anymore and has spilled into popular consumer electronics. Such fundamental changes obviously have an implication for companies,which will need to adapt to this new consumer.”

First published on: 28-01-2011 at 07:57:17 pm
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