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“To keep pace with shifts or simply perish”: MK Anand, Times Network

The MD and CEO of the media conglomerate spoke about Times’ new channels, the rating crisis, and how the pandemic affected the media industry.

Right before the Abby One Show awards kicked off on 5 May 2022, Times Network CEO and MD Mk Anand took the stage. In an address lasting a good 10 minutes, the MD gave his nod to the return of Goafest and the Abby's, the approximately 1,500 plus participants, and the roughly 60 per cent of them who were under 30 years of age.

Like most speakers on the first day of Goafest, there was mention of the past two years and Anand referenced the period as an “existential challenge” for the media industry. “To keep pace with shifts or simply perish,” remarked the MD and he accentuated the already fragile state of the industry by reminding everyone, “…. we faced the same financial difficulties when our revenue lines sharply decline because you (advertisers) stopped advertising.”

Anand also spoke about the channel rating controversy which hit the media industry hard, “channels had no option but to seek suspension in ratings, demand better processes, and stricter vigilance by the agencies,” he said and then went on to add that Times Network decided to focus on doing what it does best “to do the right thing for our viewers and advertisers.”

And while at it, Anand didn’t miss from referencing the ‘India Outbreak Report' from the Times Network that included a massive database of Indian healthcare infrastructure across states and districts to find the availability of hospital beds, ICU beds, and critical infrastructure. There was also a statistical model in collaboration with Protiviti, Times’ digital transformation partner that enabled the media giant to use pandemic data from five countries that had a head start on India and projected state-wise spread of Coronavirus and in critical gaps state by state.

Right as people looked up to facts to battle their fears in the past couple of years, and “to help our viewers make sense of the changes the world was undergoing, we decided to help them fight fear with facts… we also used the pandemic period to launch three new channels”

Anand also told everyone listening that “our bodies (Times Network properties) are now more digital than earlier and we speak more Hindi now in our attempt to forge a relationship with a wider viewer base and I'd say we are younger and massier than we were pre-pandemic.”

Anand, towards the end, remarked “the newly released viewership data clearly shows that Times Now has improved its channel share by almost 8 percentage points and is the clear, real winner.” He also claimed Times Now Navbharat has already achieved our first phase ranking target, the highest OTS in the genre... it is emerging as the true leader in the Hindi news space.”

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