Vivek Srivastava

The Indian family’s TV set belonged to the countless dramas, soap operas and reality shows – game shows, singing, dancing competitions etc. that prevail. For males and younger audiences, entertainment, movie and kid’s channels were the way out. Thanks to strict broadcast guidelines on sex and violence, the films or shows were chopped or only particular types of movies were aired. Then came the emergence of the OTT platform. It promised to be sexier, edgier, funnier and ‘uncensored’. It offered Indians the content that the West was streaming and in return, it wanted a subscription fee.

So, what did it do to English content consumption on TV? Nothing, believes Vivek Srivastava, president – strategy and business head – EEC, Times Network. Times Network, a part of the Bennett Coleman group, operates a bouquet of English News, English Movies and Entertainment channels and a Bollywood lifestyle channel – Zoom.

The Srivastava-led bouquet includes Romedy Now and Romedy Now HD, MNX and MNX HD, Movies Now, Movies Now HD and MN+. Seven years ago, with the launch of Movies Now, Times Network (then known as Times Television Network) started its journey into the English entertainment business. Today, analysts peg it to be the leading network in the English Movies category which sees advertisers dishing out close to Rs 700 crore. In an interview with afaqs! Srivastava speaks about the journey so far and the impact of OTT.

We understood that the taste of the television audience, especially when it comes to English movies or entertainment, has evolved significantly. There are various factors that resulted in this evaluation. One is, of course, the consistent growth in adopting English as the medium of instruction and then the growth of Hollywood in India. In fact, Hollywood blockbusters now compete with Hindi films when it comes to box-office collections.

Social media has also played a vital role in evolving the taste of India’s audience. Earlier, people would read about movies in the newspaper once a day; now it’s all over social media all the time. Fans are far more aware of their stars as well as the content being created. After understanding the changing trend, we decided to launch a bouquet of channels. First, we launched Romedy Now and its success encouraged us, so we launched MN+ and positioned it as the gold class of Hollywood. In the HD-only category, it makes three times as much revenue as the next competitor. Two years back, we launched MNX, a new-age younger brand, almost an alter ego of Movies Now.