Television

OACT 2021: Bringing the digital ecosystem to linear TV

Indiantelevision.com caught up with The Q India, CEO, Simran Hoon on Day 2 of OACT.

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Mumbai: “We see linear TV more like virtual linear TV because it is so easy to plug and play and join the digital ecosystem,” said The Q India, chief executive officer Simran Hoon at the OTT Advertising and Connected TV Summit 2021’ organised virtually this year. “Today, delivery is not important, remarks Hoon, everything is platform agnostic.”

Technologies like free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) have become ubiquitous in the North American market with players like Pluto, Roku, and Samsung+ seeing their revenues double year on year. The FAST industry revenues grew from $2.1 billion to $4.2 billion in a year and the trend is happening in India as well where connected TV users are at 5-7 million growing fast to touch 40 million in 2025, according to a report by E&Y.

Hoon is a media professional with 27 years of experience in ad sales with some of the biggest TV networks including Sony, Star, Zee, and Viacom18. She joined most of these media companies when they were at the launch phase and has worked across functions in the broadcast media industry. Now, she is leading the Hindi general entertainment channel The Q in India.

Speaking at the two-day event organised by Indiantelevision.com, and co-powered by mediasmart, an Affle company and summit partner – The Q, Hoon shared her views on ‘Driving new synergies between linear TV and digital ecosystem.

The Q India is pioneering unique TV initiatives by driving synergies with the digital ecosystem. The channel recently announced a syndication deal with the OTT platform MX Player to bring their popular web series “Aashram” to TV viewers. The channel had earlier partnered with short video platform Chingari to hold the auditions for its crime series “Crime Aur Kanoon”.

Bringing “Aashram” to TV required the broadcaster to convert nine one-hour episodes into 18-episode length series after editing the content to make it more appropriate for TV audiences, said Hoon. The channel is also in talks to bring another OTT series to TV in November and “Aashram 2” in December.

Its main proposition has been to bring the best of digital content to TV. According to Hoon, there is a vast young free audience on TV that has been migrating to digital because they are not being served on TV. The soap opera fare that is broadcast by traditional free-to-air channels is not catching the fancy of these audiences where the mean age is 28 years old. The Q India brought youth media creators, starting from content creators and influencers on YouTube, and amplified their reach by bringing their content to the TV.

“A YouTube creator with 10-12 million audience reach, can be exposed to a whole new audience on TV. That’s the biggest kick for influencers and the value proposition of The Q,” noted Hoon.

Last year, the channel was rated by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India and crossed the 45 GRP mark over a span of 19 weeks.

“The Q reaches to Tier II, III young family audiences that are watching the channel’s content across platforms, whether it be connected TV, OTT, or linear TV,” said Hoon. “We are available in 100 million homes, but there are still 210 million TV households to go. 70 million households are yet to buy a TV. Even though India is a smartphone market, today there are smart TVs that are selling cheaper than smartphones. We want to be omnipresent because we believe great content pulls viewers and hence advertisers, creating a virtuous cycle.”

The channel is available on DTH providers like Tata Sky and D2H and also on the big Cable operators such as GTPL Hathway. It has partnered with connected TV manufacturers such as Samsung TV+ and Mi India. According to Hoon, the channel is available on 700 personal machines.

The Q India is a part of the North American media company QYOU Media that was co-founded by Curt Marvis and Sunder Aaron. The company has also roped in TV veteran Andy Kaplan to be chairman of The Q India. It has three big verticals – its broadcast channel, an influencer marketing company Chtrbox, and its distribution arm.

“Chtrbox is one of the largest influencer marketing companies in India with 3.50 lakh influencers in its network. We have started doing integrated sales, where brands also look at influencers and their YouTube channels when buying advertising on The Q India TV channel. Chtrbox uses AI to match the brand and the influencer depending on the region or target audience the brand is looking at,” explained Hoon.

This is much harder to do than it seems, from a technology perspective, maintained Hoon. The channel is still experimenting with this approach and expects to see giant strides being made in this space in the next six to nine months. “Today, it is so easy to be digitally connected to your TV. The opportunity to be more targeted and programmatic on virtual TV will drive more advertising dollars compared to linear TV,” said Hoon.

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