Prachi Srivastava

"IPL retains its strong viewership in season 8": NP Singh

The chief executive of Multi Screen Media talks about the performance of the eighth season of the highly popular T20 tournament and the other network channels.

The Indian Premier League (IPL) that concluded its eighth edition recently was a success, claims the broadcaster. In an interaction with NP Singh, chief executive officer of Multi Screen Media, afaqs! learns that the eighth season of the T20 tournament has retained its strong viewership.

"IPL retains its strong viewership in season 8": NP Singh
"The last season was unique because the matches were played right in the middle of the elections - therefore making comparisons from season 7 to 8 won't be right. We have seen a 20 per cent plus growth in the ad revenue in season 8 compared to season 6. IPL also retains its strong viewership."

As per TAM data, IPL 8 garnered 20 per cent more average TVRs (television rating) compared to IPL 7. Time spent per viewer (TSV) per match in IPL 8 was 46 minutes and 17 seconds - or 9 per cent more compared to IPL 7 (data is for C&S, 4+, all India market).

IPL 2015 was aired in five languages - Hindi, English, Bengali, Tamil and Telugu on Sony Max, Sony Six, Sony Aath, Sony Kix and Sony Six HD. The network did not sell ad spots separately for the five language feeds but going forward it is planning to sell the ad spots for the language feeds separately. "We sold IPL to all our advertisers together. As far as the viewership is concerned, the highest came from Hindi on Max, then from English and then from Tamil, Telugu and Bengali. We will continue with this strategy. In terms of sales, we will try and see if we can sell some languages separately from Hindi," shares Singh.

"Within IPL, high definition has done extremely well this year. The viewership has grown significantly and revenues on HD have also grown quite dramatically. There is a lot of demand for HD content from the advertisers," he adds. The network had launched a new sports channel, Sony Kix in April. Now that the premier league is over, the channel is expected to air content that the network has aggregated in last three years.

"Kix gives us the flexibility of having multiple language feeds and that's something we started with IPL. It also gives us another platform to air content. We are acquiring more sports properties, which we will announce in the next couple of months. We were using Pix whenever we needed another channel to air a sport. But now, we can use Kix. Having said that, going forward, if we need a third channel for sports, we will use one from the MSM network."

The network is focusing on football at present. "We have some of the best football content - FIFA 2018, UEFA Euro 2016, plus all the qualifiers leading to the Euro and FIFA. There are also other properties that we are finalizing." Unlike its competitor Star, that organizes Indian Super League (ISL) and Pro Kabaddi League, MSM is not looking at launching its own league. "But we are not closed to that," says Singh.

Sony Pal, that was launched last year, turned FTA in February with content from Sony Entertainment Television and Sab TV's library. The channel was also placed on Doordarshan's free-to-air DTH platform Freedish, after which it saw a growth in viewership. That said, the channel will continue with that strategy for some more time till it reaches a threshold where it can have the confidence of launching original content. "Our objective of launching the channel was to appeal to the Hindi heartland and to some degree, Pal has been able to achieve that. With the repeats of shows from Sony and Sab, we have been able to double our viewership on the channel. We will persist with the same strategy for some more time," Singh avers.

Flagship channel SET, which is seeing a slow revival, will continue to invest in newer content and stories. Its fiction shows Maharana Pratap and Itna Karo Na Mujhe Pyaar are providing decent viewership. "Hanuman is showing positive traction post IPL. Besides, we are launching Siddharth Tewari's Surya Putra Karn later this month, which has come up as a strong show. Indian Idol Juniors continues to do well, so do the crime-based shows from the channel," he signs off.

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