Interactivity seems & #BANNER1 & # to be the mantra that media planners feel will rule in 2006. So, gear up for a year in which you will probably get to watch more innovative programming that will allow ample scope for interactivity.
Debraj Tripathy, general manager, Maxus, says, "Interactivity will boom and we will move a step beyond SMS voting. It could probably go to a point where viewers will dictate the content of the programme."
Kajal Malik, regional director, Optimum Media Solutions (OMS), echoes this sentiment. She says, "Interactive TV will definitely be a big category to watch out for in 2006. What we have seen in 2004 and 2005 with 'Indian Idol' on Sony or 'Nach Baliye' on STAR One is probably just the tip of the iceberg."
She adds, "Interactivity comes in two formats at the moment - passion and prizes. We will see a growth in both these formats. We will have more and more channels experiment with these formats."
Malik continues, "Today, when television viewing is extremely fragmented, interactive TV offers the scope to build loyalty among viewers by involving them, where, otherwise, channel swapping rules."
Ravi Kiran, CEO of Starcom South Asia, says, "Viewers have got bored with the unimaginative 'saas-bahu' fare that is served to them. They are looking for something that will engage them and also be entertaining. That is where reality steps in with its added dimension of viewer participation."
He adds, "I think that comedy as a genre will also become popular in 2006."
Tripathy of Maxus also feels that many smaller general interest channels (GECs) will emerge winners with their potential for innovative programming. He says, "There is lesser risk in experimenting with innovative programming for the smaller GECs such as Sahara One, STAR One or even Sony SAB than for the mass channels. If these channels do take this risk, they might emerge winners. STAR One has already paved the way for such programming."
Media planners also see 2006 as a good year for sports channels, thanks to the ubiquitous cricket and the Football World Cup, which will garner a good number of viewers.
The scene will hot up in the English news channels segment, thanks to the entry of new players like CNN IBN and Times Now. But Ravi Kiran of Starcom says he sees 'complete confusion' in this segment, where the need is to build a unique identity for each channel so that they don't end up looking like each other.
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