Prachi Srivastava

TV.NXT 2014: What difference does social media make in the life of different TV genres?

At afaqs! TV.NXT Paritosh Joshi spoke with Ravi Agrawal, Vivek Srivastava, Venke Sharma, Tushar Vyas and Prashant Singh on the new love affair - TV and social media.

Today, Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp, are all apps we have got used to. And so have the people who are running television. Social media is a tool for gathering news, playing it out, get feedback and a host of other things. But having said that, does it have the potential to become a revenue stream?

Paritosh Joshi (principal, Provocateur Advisory) talked to Ravi Agrawal (bureau chief, CNN International), Vivek Srivastava (VP, Viacom18 Media, head - commercial and digital, Colors), Venke Sharma (VP, digital marketing, Star India), Tushar Vyas (managing partner, GroupM - South Asia) and Prashant Singh (MD - media, Indian region, Nielsen India) on how they are deploying social media for their benefit.

TV.NXT 2014: What difference does social media make in the life of different TV genres?

Joshi started with Agrawal when he asked him how "crowd-sourcing" evolved for a news network like CNN International. The latter said that, in the early 2000s, CNN had launched which was a sort of a precursor to Youtube where viewers became citizen journalists. "During the Mumbai attacks (26/11), for example, the first people to post images were those who were on the streets. That was the first time when we began to see that regular people can get stories before anyone else can. That became a great tool for us to tell stories even from places we couldn't get to."

Eventually, with citizen journalism, the common people became stakeholders. For all that, one still needs to vet, verify and ensure that the information he or she is covering, is accurate. That's where the expertise of a real media organisation comes into play. "TV and social media is an old marriage in many parts of the world. It's beneficial to both tellers, who are telling the stories and people who are having their stories told," Agrawal added.

What role does social media play in the life of a fiction show on a general entertainment channel? Sharma explains that there is not one set of consumer out there. There are people who are on social and whose entertainment is defined by what's social, what's being talked about because there is a fear of missing out something. "Alia Bhatt became a celebrity with Koffee with Karan, Salman Khan talked about his virginity on the show and it went viral. Using social smartly has helped us create demand for content, in terms of curation."

That apart, not every piece of content extends a compatibility towards social media. For example, a show like 'Diya Aur Baati Hum' on Star Plus is not really a social chartbuster but 'Is pyar ko kya naam doon?' on the same channel doesn't rate well on TV, though it is high on buzz on social media. "This implies that we need to pick out those shows, sports, content that can drive participation instantly," Sharma opined.

In that case, what recommendations do these media planners give their clients? Vyas pointed out that the social chart is an indicator for programmes and is also the data point. "Other markets have started using it as a strong input, besides TV ratings. We are using it in two ways - one is incremental data or TV data (qualitatively defining how audiences are engaging and what kind of brands are relevant for those programms), using it as surrogate data. The second is capitalising on the second screen behaviour. We try to maximise the reach for our brands. There is something called Sync Products that we have started launching in different markets. It helps peak your social media presence when your TV ad is coming," he explains.

Nielsen and Twitter have come together to launch a metric which measures impressions (and not number of views) and hence is GRP (gross rating point) equivalent. "Now whether the market will trade on it or will decide to use it as another dimension against TV ratings is someting that it will have to figure out," Singh announced.

So which one is more efficient - Facebook or Twitter? Or, any other social media platform? The number of FB posts on a particular subject and Twitter posts is very different. In many cases same story gets posted more on FB and the trend so far is that usually FB tends to win this particular battle. How does an entertainment network distinguish between different platforms?

Srivastava felt that social media should be used collectively. "Twitter has become surrogate to word-of-mouth. It is live - if you are watching news or a reality show or a sport, you will tweet while watching it. However, FB is always about interacting when the TV screen is not in front of you. YouTube, currently from media point of view, is being used as a catch-up medium."

He also mentioned that there is space for everyone in the digital world. Otherwise a channel as new as All India Bakchod (AIB) wouldn't have got the popularity that it has. "Someone with a camera is also a content producer in the digital world. The challenge, however, is how to monetise this content. Social media content and TV content will co-exist."

As for news, Agrawal explained that courtesy social media, this "two-way-conversation" format has also changed the way reporting is done or the story is shaped. "We can see how they are reacting to our stories, and the changes in our story-telling. People get involved with our stories and impact the stories as well."

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