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TV & Web Don’t Have Separate Audiences – Ekalavya Bhattacharya, Head of Digital, MTV India

nano-drive-with-mtvIn the first part of our interaction with Ekalavya Bhattacharya, he spoke about how digital is changing their content strategy, the relationship between TV & digital and the challenges with doing shows that are digital only. In the second part of our interaction, he speaks about the mistakes from season 1 of Drive with MTV that they would like to avoid, mobile strategy, their audience and monetization strategy.


Medianama: What were some of the mistakes in social with TV from your last season that you want to avoid this time?

Bhattacharya: There are some funny incidents from the first season that we want to avoid. For instance, one team lost their car keys on a national bandh, which we hadn’t anticipated. So this time, we want to plan for these production related mistakes. Besides this, we didn’t really make many mistakes last season. That being said, we are making the show more audience centric this season with VJ (video jockey) involvement and more TV episodes, among others.

Mobile Strategy

Medianama: What role does mobile phone play for the consumption of such a show? How do you think it makes sense to leverage the medium?

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Bhattacharya: How are four guys travelling in Nano going to communicate with people outside?  It can happen only with a mobile phone. Contestants check stuff and tweet on the go using their mobile phones. Also, 25% of the video traffic for the show came through mobile device during the last season. We speak content not medium so you can consume our content through any device. Mobile is in the DNA but we are not alienating it separately for the show.


Medianama: What kind of data do you collect on audiences online?

Bhattacharya: We have got the data points but we are still learning everyday on how to use this data. Are we manipulating content consumption based on this data? I would say not yet. For instance, in the last season, we noticed that the team from the south was associated with food joints. We could’ve branded Team South as ‘Foodies’ and contact a MDH or Usha for brand sponsorship.

Medianama: How do you measure the success of a program on social media?

Bhattacharya: Likes, tweets, stickiness, conversations, repeat viewers, views, are a few indicators, however I would say that the perception change is the biggest thing. These indicators would be help in our decision to do Season 3.

Medianama: Do you push online audiences more towards TV or do you push TV audiences online? How is the interplay between TV and online? What have you observed?

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Bhattacharya: Its 50-50 now. If you see on MTV on television, content is mainly Hindi music targeting the Hindi speaking audience. On the web, its the English speaking audience that we target. So we are pushing both ways. There’s no fixed formula. We have done prediction apps based on TV shows. Most shows have dedicated Twitter hashtags to tap the entire audience. However, I will disagree that there are two separate audiences for TV and web, since Roadies is a big example where TV viewers also consumed web content.

Medianama: How do you see people consuming a reality show online? What are the devices on which you see maximum response?

Bhattacharya: While watching a video, it is going to be a computer and when it comes to viewing photos its going to be mobile or a tablet. We are also integrating Instagram and Pinterest to the show this year. If the teams have a heart (like) on their Instagram photo, then they will get a point. We are hoping that consumption will happen across media and devices because we want to be a device agnostic show.


Medianama: How different is your digital audience from your television audience? How has this affected your monetization strategy?

Bhattacharya: A web show which has TV outreach helps us monetize the web show better. But I can’t really give you a fixed answer. When you look at web, you also look at content not just ads. When you go into branded content, the brand becomes part of the content, through which we monetize since the viewer are talking to MTV not MTV’s TV channel anymore. We don’t do web specific shows or any medium specific shows but we are making them aware of what’s happening in our other platforms

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Medianama: Is the social media component a key part of a pitch to advertisers? What do they want?

Bhattacharya: Its part of their KRA (Key Resource Area) now. It has become content and engagement for visibility for them.  E-commerce wants sales, mobile operator want visibility and service providers want clicks. We built an HTML 5 game  on Internet Explorer for Roadies. Internet Explorer in turn as a brand wanted downloads. So we had 3 levels that were available only on IE. If you are a fan and want to win gifts then you have to download it. On TV, a guy only wants branding, while on the web, the deliverables are different.

Medianama: Is TV advertising seen as a limited medium by you?

Bhattacharya: As televisions become smarter, we will see more digital. TV advertising is also evolving. People are also playing around with it but of course with digital, more can be done.

Medianama: How does your revenue justify the cost of production of a digital show?

Bhattacharya: We are always working in a model that is profitable when it comes to web. We ensure that digital is definitely profitable. That’s why we have a full fledged digital team. Like mentioned before, we look at content distribution, content monetisation, branding, giving the content over for mobile TV, licensing our content out to people, among others.

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Medianama: How has your monetization strategy changed in this season from the last?

Bhattacharya: Monetization is evolving based on different platforms. We are looking at branded content and more avenues of distribution. Youtube is no longer a marketing platform for us but a monetisation platform. Our monetisation strategy is evolving all that time.

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