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Majority of viewers not ready for non-linear streaming: Parameshwar Gundhkal, Business Head, Colors Kannada & Colors Super

05-October-2017
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Majority of viewers not ready for non-linear streaming: Parameshwar Gundhkal, Business Head, Colors Kannada & Colors Super

With Colors Super being a young channel in the Kannada GEC market, Parameshwar Gundhkal, Business Head, Colors Kannada & Colors Super, shared his strategy of focussing on the marketing of Colors Super for the time being and how he plans to go about with the transformation towards digital that is happening currently. Excerpts:
During the channel’s rebranding from ETV Kannada to Colors Kannada, we saw a lot of noise being made about it. What is your marketing strategy now?

The complete creative of the re-branding was done in-house. Those creatives were conceptualised and shot by us. That was actually the most satisfying moment of my life when ETV Kannada successfully transformed into Colors Kannada. This happened on April 26, 2015 and when we saw BARC ratings on April 29, Colors Kannada was the number one channel.

I would say that programs are important to any channel but to some extent, marketing support is also necessary. We’re not that aggressive on the marketing front. We are now focussing on Colors Super as Colors Kannada is now settled at its position. We plan to make Colors Super among the top 4 GECs in Kannada. Although one of our channels is already on the top, we believe in taking Colors Super to that level too. This is also the reason why we chose Bigg Boss to be aired on Colors Super this time. The marketing activities that we do for Bigg Boss would hold good for both the show and the channel.

Wouldn’t that make way for in-house competition between Colors Super and Colors Kannada?

Competition is there. There is competition between us and the other channels as well. If a Zee, Star and Sun can compete against Colors Kannada, then why not Colors Super? The teams are different. I might be the only head but the teams are separate. Last year at this time, Colors Kannada was giving about 650 kind of a reading in GRP while Colors Super was at 40 GRP. Everyone said that once Super starts growing, Colors Kannada will come down and it will lead to cannibalising. Presently, Colors Kannada is in the range of 700 and Colors Super is now in the range of 170 GRPs. I am happy with this now.

With OTT coming in, people predict that the clout of television will slowly reduce. Comment.

I can tell one thing about this based on my experience. No matter what sort of OTT comes into picture, the only change happening is that linear content streaming is now becoming non-linear. This is still in its nascent stages. Majority of viewers are not ready for non-linear streaming and still prefer linear streaming. For this to develop might take a minimum of about 3-4 years according to me. If around 5 years down the line, OTT is more important. I don’t feel that is a danger or trouble to us as our company’s vision is clear. We already have Voot present and it is a pretty competitive OTT platform. Also, no matter what OTT or digital platform plays a big role, it all narrows down to your content or the storytelling that you do. That’s what matters at the end of the day. You will survive based on the stories or content that you have on your channel.

How do you think GECs should prepare themselves for the digital future? Will there be any added pressure with regard to the programming of the channel due to this?

Till now there is no pressure. But later on, it might be there. I think people are getting over-prepared these days. The focus should have been towards refining their way of storytelling, but people are losing their focus in the midst of the confusion of platforms I think. My focus is on storytelling as it needs that sort of concentration. But at the same time, I am not ignoring all this confusion of the platforms. I am aware of OTT. I have certain challenges in this as I don’t have any sort of clarity on how this will work out. Perhaps nobody has that sort of clarity I suppose as of now. But that clarity will come. Instead of becoming over prepared and losing out on focus, we should correct and concentrate on our core of storytelling. The adjustment to the changes will need less time. It’ll happen when it is supposed to happen. We just need to be prepared to that change and adjustment, which we are in our network. Voot Kannada has quite a strong viewership, in fact. So we are prepared. I don’t think we should confuse ourselves by over preparing.

You came from a pure content background and worked as a journalist. Now you are the business head here. How did this transition happen?

I came from the rural area of Gundhkal in Karnataka and lived amidst nature and spent about five years working in farms there. I had a passion for storytelling since then. I began working as a cartoonist first then as a journalist for a few major Kannada publications like Vijay Karnataka and Udayavani. Then I moved to Zee Kannada as the fiction head. Colors Kannada was in the revamping stage from ETV Kannada to Colors Kannada when I joined as the Programming Head. Later on, I was offered the role of a Business Head. I was happy to take up this role as I could focus more on storytelling and content. I now also direct a few shows or promos of programs on this channel. My passion for storytelling was there from the beginning, which helped me go places in my career.

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