“We clearly understand that our business will be driven by the broadcasters ability to understand what consumers need, along with the proficiency to communicate to viewers effectively- Research, innovative marketing and the desire to establish ourselves as a strong contender to bring out the best in each one of us, summarize the 4 R’s of our business - Research, Reach (Distribution), Revenue and Ratings.” Said Zeeshan Sajid Amin, Business Head, B4U Middle East.
In an interaction with MediAvataar MENA Zeeshan explained the nitty-gritties of being a successful broadcaster in the region and what does it take to entice the Arab consumers.
Here is the complete Q&A…..
MediAvataarME: What is changing the game for broadcasters and TV in MENA?
Zeeshan: Today’s television experience bears little resemblance to the television our parents or grandparents watched. Just as tomorrow’s television experience will look very little like today’s. We are no longer in era where the television networks dictated what, when and how we watched, to a time where consumers are firmly in control – It is no longer only about the brand name of the channel but the content which is on offering by the channel. Viewers are clear on what they want and when they want it and if one broadcaster fails to give it to them, they will find a broadcaster which provides them what they want.
MediAvataarME: How is the MENA market different to other parts of the world?
Zeeshan: MENA is a unique market when it comes to TV consumption habits. We have 70-80% of the viewership happening through free to air channels hence the business model is ad sales driven – moreover the average per day viewership in the two most important countries of the region, Egypt and KSA, is almost double than general worldwide standards.
Apart from Egypt and KSA, MENA region compromises of 4-7 more key markets and this is a unique challenge for broadcasters as the planning needs to be done on vast geographies. The fact that planning alone on two countries, KSA and Egypt, having lot of cultural differences, has to be tackled with extreme sensitivities.
MediAvataarME: With so many changes and challenges, what do you think is the way forward for broadcasters?
Zeeshan: I always say, there are 4 important R’s of broadcast business - Research, Reach, Ratings and Revenue – the two important “R’s” of business; Revenue and Ratings, will be strictly driven by two important questions:
(a) if broadcasters are showing what consumers want? AND
(b) if broadcasters are communicating consumers that they are showing what consumers want?
For instance, when one of the Indian broadcasters launched movie channel to customize the Bollywood content for Arabs - the idea clicked because it was one of the wants of the consumers which was never addressed properly by any broadcaster. Another excellent example of addressing wants of consumers is launch of a tier 2 movie channel carrying Arabic movie content by one of the leading Media Group -there was a gap in the market for an Arabic movie channel carrying a mix of commercial, short and non-conventional movies. Similarly, B4U Aflam has always been a trend setter in the way it communicates consumers about its programming line-up – it was the first channel to advertise on world’s largest LED display in Jeddah and was again the first ever Pan Arab Bollywood channel which was able to negotiate with top Arabic radio stations in KSA, Alif Alif FM and Mix FM, to play Bollywood songs which were sponsored by us.
MediAvataarME: Many people talk about takeover of Digital / Online Media over TV. Do you think traditional TV will gradually die?
Zeeshan: I remember couple of years back when digital media was introduced in the region, everyone said that newspapers will die and with invent of TV it was predicted radio will be obsolete.
I believe any matured media platforms; Print, Radio, Outdoor, TV and now Digital will never die – but with time the consumption habits of each media will keep on evolving. For instance, many of the media plans which happen today include Newspapers to target the key decision makers. This was never the case couple of years back and the medium was only used to target masses.
Moreover, as you may know, Mobile is the latest key emerging media platform and there are already talks that mobile and social will take over the regular digital media in terms of spends and consumption-which to my experience will never happen. Any new media platform, when launched, eats up from the existing matured platforms and affects their consumption and spends until the total pie re-adjusts and the new media reaches maturity.
Having said that, I believe all broadcasters need to align their strategies with the emerging “second screen concept” in the region as it will be key to engage audiences and increase time spend.
MediAvataarME: Any shift in consumption patterns for Bollywood emerging?
Zeeshan: Bollywood is being continuously evolved and with every passing day the penetration of Indian movies is becoming stronger amongst the Arabic audiences. The latest trend is that the mega Bollywood movies have started releasing Arabic versions of their best songs to promote themselves amongst Arabic consumers. The latest one is the song Jabra from Fan, Gerua from Dilwale which was followed after the successful launch of the Arabic version of Dhoom Machale when Dhoom 3 was released.
The fact is that three Bollywood channels operating in Pan Arab space, carrying customized Bollywood content with aggressive strategies has attracted the attention of masses and in consumers’ mind Bollywood is now perceived as something “worth watching” and “worth admitting” from being an extreme “taboo” in just couple of years. As per the official research agency today 1/3rd of the viewership in amongst the Pan Arab Movie channels is being contributed by Bollywood content.
MediAvataarME: How do you continuously keep on coming up with new and never-done-before sort of ideas?
Zeeshan: We clearly understand that our business will be driven by the broadcasters ability to understand what consumers need, along with the proficiency to communicate to viewers effectively- Research, innovative marketing and the desire to establish ourselves as a strong contender to bring out the best in each one of us, summarize the 4 R’s of our business - Research, Reach (Distribution), Revenue and Ratings.
MediAvataarME: What will 2016 be like?
Zeeshan: I can see that in 2016 & 2017 expansion of Pay TV will be one of the most exciting things to look at - it will be interesting to see how the existing and new players attract new subscribers – I am expecting the Reach pattern of TV to be changing in next 5-7 years in MENA. However, penetration of HD will still take another 5 years to mature.
Moreover, I strongly feel, the economy slowdown will be extremely beneficial in terms of revenue for the tier 2 channels as budgets will be tight and scrutiny of ROI on clients will be extremely strict.