The marketing head speaks about the platform’s growth strategy, focus on regional markets and the upcoming season of Shark Tank India.
Sony Entertainment Television’s iconic business reality show Shark Tank India is set to return with its third season on January 22, 2024. When Shark Tank India launched in 2021, it was the first mainstream show of its kind in India. But its wild success and popularity have spawned a number of shows on the same concept, including Indian Angels on JioCinema and Mission Start Ab on Amazon Prime Video. How does Sony now plan to keep its audience glued to its show?
Aman Srivastava, head - marketing, Sony LIV, says there is no pressure to alter the platform's approach merely due to the proliferation of similar shows in the market.
“Shark Tank India is a platform uniting investors and pitchers. Our credibility stems from our no-interference approach, respecting how ‘Sharks’ assess and ‘Pitchers’ present. This is what has kept us unique, and it is evident in the sustained sponsor interest. Once you have created credibility, why simply change things?” he asks.
The show will see several additions this time. From six ‘Sharks’ last year, this season will have 12 ‘Sharks’ on board. It will also have campus specials, where it will shoot in colleges to feature budding talent. It will also feature ecopreneur special businesses, based on sustainability. This season has a lot of ‘Pitchers’ from tier 2 India, offering fresh perspectives.
As part of the show’s promotions, it launched a humorous trailer film, titled Corporate Bidaai. Conceptualised by Moonshot, the film portrays the exit of a young employee as he is set to start his own startup. Having endured exploitation from his bosses, he says his goodbye through sarcastic and clever comebacks. Just as a father asks his son-in-law during the bidaai to keep his daughter happy, the bosses ask the employee's co-founder to treat their ex-employee well. They then exit in a car adorned with a 'Just Founded' sign.
Srivastava says this time the platform wanted the promos to be a little more relatable with the youth.
“In Season 2, our goal was to educate people about Shark Tank. Despite the first season’s success, we recognised the importance of continuing this awareness. We are continuing it this year as well while blending in humour and relatability,” he says.
As the show attempts to reach the youth, it is leveraging digital platforms for outreach. LinkedIn, with its like-minded audience, will be a key focus. Additionally, it aims to explore short-format content platforms, capitalising on the faster dissemination of user-generated content within that space.
“The idea is to present the same content and use the platforms to drive novelty. Utilising every medium available, the goal is to tell our story effectively,” he adds.
The previous season’s data indicated a significant surge in female viewership for Shark Tank, compared to Season 1. The platform anticipates further growth this season.
“This trend aligns with our goal of expanding our user base. The show's content resonates with the audience's taste, and the presence of accomplished female entrepreneurs and ‘Pitchers’ fosters a shared mindset among viewers, contributing to this success,” he says.
While Sony has made its other popular reality show MasterChef India digital-exclusive, Shark Tank India will continue to air on both television and Sony LIV.
“The show doesn't dictate its audience. We decide on our shows based on how we would want to bring people onto our platform. There will always be both kinds of shows- digital-exclusive and TV-plus-digital. We are creating new shows, including limited series, under LIV Exclusives. The ecosystem accommodates diverse shows, ensuring a robust presence on both platforms,” he shares.
The show doesn't dictate its audience. We decide on our shows based on how we would want to bring people onto our platform.Aman Srivastava, head - marketing, Sony LIV
Strategy for digital-exclusive shows
With certain shows, like MasterChef India, the platform is aiming to influence habit formation among its audiences. The cooking reality show aired a fresh episode every day for five days a week from Monday to Friday at 8 pm.
“People are looking to consume fresh content every day. To cater to this, our approach is to consistently provide new stories daily. Recognising the evolving dynamics of content consumption post-COVID, we aim to generate smaller, more frequent content units.”
Srivastava shares that the platform plans to build such brands that pull people and get assured audiences and users. “At the same time, we will also keep building impactful originals. These originals serve as platform identifiers and significant brand enhancers,” he explains.
Recognising the evolving dynamics of content consumption post-COVID, we aim to generate smaller, more frequent content units.Aman Srivastava, head - marketing, Sony LIV
Given Sony's absence in the broadcasting business in the South India market, it strategically forayed into it with Originals in Tamil to explore audience preferences and direction. Movies also provided valuable insights, especially in Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam.
“In 2024, we will be launching a lineup of Tamil and Telugu Originals, aiming to consolidate and expand these language markets. Towards the year-end, we'll introduce Malayalam Originals, with an initial launch in the coming months. This aligns with our commitment to diverse language offerings,” he shares.
So is Sony LIV headed to become a destination for South-Indian content? Srivastava says growth requires a multifaceted approach and one can’t rely on a single aspect in a diverse market.
“While football draws audiences from the southern markets, sustaining their engagement requires continuous efforts. Our goal is to stand out and we want to provide destination-based content. In the coming year, we aim to enhance these efforts significantly,” he adds.
The OTT platform is also aiming to replicate its habit building strategy for the regional markets by launching MasterChef in Tamil and Telugu. This will also help it expand its regional audience base.
While Shark Tank will consistently attract audiences to the platform from the languages market —Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada, MasterChef, with its regular intervals, complements this.
“In the regional market, live sports drive viewership, but they are limited in nature. The Originals lineup across Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam also adds to our diverse content offering, but MasterChef adds an additional layer to this dynamic mix,” Srivastava says.
These languages also help the platform penetrate international markets. In the Middle East, its influence is anchored through its Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu movies. “With upcoming Originals, our aim is to expand our presence in these markets. While Hindi content has performed well internationally, we haven't focussed much on the international markets. Our primary focus is now on establishing regional content,” he says.
The Originals lineup across Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam also adds to our diverse content offering, but MasterChef adds an additional layer to this dynamic mixAman Srivastava, head - marketing, Sony LIV
With regard to content, Sony LIV had some popular shows in 2023, including Shark Tank, MasterChef India, Rocket Boys 2 and Scam 2003. Sports also played a key role as it hosted some important sporting events, including the Asian Games 2022. Noteworthy additions included two original movies— 2018: Everyone is a Hero, a Malayalam film and India’s entry for the Oscars and Tamil film Por Thozhil.
While the platform acquired several regional films, it has consciously stayed away from acquiring Bollywood films.
“Initially, we incorporated a few Hindi movies during the launch phase for content regularity. However, our focus on Hindi entertainment shifted to originals, format shows, and television content. We are not saying that we will never acquire them, but our current approach doesn't see a compelling reason to prioritise movie acquisitions,” he explains.