MUMBAI: Attraction in this Age of Distraction is a deft tricks continuum. It requires the creation of programming for a mass audience — an audience that has multiple media options in an increasingly fragmented environment.
That is because, says Sameer Nair, CEO of Star Entertainment, in the new age of ‘information, control and development,’ control has moved on from the media-owner to the consumer.
“The fact remains that there is a new generation of media-consumers who demand entertainment at their own time and pace. They decide what they want to watch, and how. Earlier, this was the media-owner’s prerogative. An example would be BkyB’s Sports Active application, which allows the viewer to watch the live action in a separate window, while he activates several other options. This includes a Player cam, which follows a particular player, a view of the match highlights and an alternative view from a choice of four-match positions. So, you can watch a cricket-match from the stumps, or square across the field, if you want to.”
Other such examples are the Apple iPod, PSP, Demand TV, DTH and broadband.
The Asia-Pacific region seems to be the epicentre of this new wave, with broadband seeing 37 million subscribers in 2003, and going up to 270 million in 2009.
Nair said in this new era, when content is the king, marketing becomes the crown prince and distribution becomes a multi-headed God traversing broadband, terrestrial, radio, mobile and the internet
Financing this mammoth kingdom is the most difficult task, quips Nair.
And not everyone’s happy with rising number of new gadgets and the multitude of options available.
“The purists complain of shrinking screens, and the lack of a shared experience of viewing. Creative souls shrink from creating for an audience of ‘one’ as the viewer seems self-contained and restricted to the gadget that tailors to his tastes. A futuristic scene shows bus commuters caught in their own respective media and entertainment gadgets, manipulating various options, and conversing less and less with each other.”
For media-owners, the task is really a challenging one. With the marriage of telephony, content and video, Nair said, communication has to be high-impact, something that works for larger groups, delivers unifying impact and monetising fragmentation.
He cites the example of the hit animation show The Simpsons, which reached a crescendo of merchandising, licensing out 1,110 products worldwide.
About the Star experience in the age of multiple options, Nair spoke about 360-degree marketing efforts for shows such as KBC2-Umeed Se Dugna, Naach Baliye and the Great Indian Laughter Challenge.
The efforts cruised across print, merchandising, live-voting, contests, mobisodes (mobile-episodes), events and concerts, outdoor and multiplex promotion.
Star has successfully incorporated overseas tried and tested formats in the Indian environment with sure-fire results, a pointer of KBC being an import of ‘Who wants to be a millionaire?’
The ‘catch’ of the session was a question from the audience that caught Nair a trifle off-guard. What about originality in the age of distraction? Does it count?
Nair quips, “When people all over the country are buying foreign cars, foreign goods and foreign gadgets, why is it that onlookers have a problem with foreign concepts? Why do they point their finger only at the creative folks?”