Category Archives: Digital Media

Star Plus retelecast Ramayan after record breaking viewership on Doordarshan

More than three decades after it was last seen on our television screens, ‘Ramayan’ was brought back by public broadcaster Doordarshan (DD) to entertain Indians during lockdown. Over a month ago, Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, tweeted, “Happy to announce that on public demand, we will retelecast ‘Ramayan’ from tomorrow, Saturday, March 28, on DD National. One episode in the morning 9-10 a.m., and another in the evening, 9-10 p.m.”

Written, produced and directed by the late Ramanand Sagar, ‘Ramayan’ first aired back in 1987, but its second innings, that started in March 2020, shattered all viewership records in the world. DD National said, on April 16, 2020, that 7.7 crore people across the globe watched the show. On May 2, the pubcaster tweeted, “Thanks to all our viewers! #Ramayan – world record! Highest viewed entertainment program globally.”

Although the show has come to an end now, the buzz around it still remains high. Due to the lockdown, the production of fresh content has come to a halt, and the general entertainment channels have run out of soaps. The lockdown has been extended, and is now in its third phase, which means people are still locked indoors. In such a scenario, the broadcasters are heavily dependent on archival content.

Now, Star India, one of India’s largest pay TV networks, has acquired the license to retelecast ‘Ramayan’. A couple of episodes have already aired on Star Plus, and the show has managed to generate chatter on social media platforms.

The show’s cast includes Arun Govil as Lord Rama, Dipika Chikhlia Topiwala as Goddess Sita and Sunil Lahri as Lakshman, and veteran actors like Lalita Pawar as Manthara, Arvind Trivedi as Ravana and Dara Singh as Hanuman.

The epic mythological tale airs at 7.30 p.m. daily on Star Plus, and now, it remains to be seen if the show continues to garner high viewership.

Creative agency Blue Vector wins social media mandate for Volvo Cars India

Gurgaon based creative agency, Blue Vector has won the social media mandate for Volvo Cars, India. As their social media outreach partner, Blue Vector will create social media campaigns for Volvo Cars India. Volvo Cars is the latest addition to the 100+ esteemed clients that have chosen Blue Vector as their creative partners.

Piyush Kedia, chief executive officer, Blue Vector, said, “Given how the auto industry is completely transforming, Volvo India is in a place to radically chalk out a massive share of voice as well as well-deserved mind space in the new Indian customer’s considerations. As BV, we’ve had the opportunity to locally contextualise and completely reimagine global-level content for Auto brands before. This combined with our young team and experimental tendencies made us a good fit.”

Charles Frump, managing director, Volvo Cars India, said, “We are extremely happy to appoint Blue Vector after a rigorous process in shortlisting and selecting the right partner for our Social Media outreach. In the recent past, Social Media has gained tremendous traction in building conversations not just to enhance brand equity but also for increased purchase consideration. Volvo Cars ethos of ‘Freedom to Move’ in a Personal, Sustainable and Safe way blends itself seamlessly in generating engagements with Volvo cars fans in Social Media and we are poised to take this to another level with our new partners.”

Top film festivals across globe join hands for World’s biggest digital film festival

COVID-19 pandemic has forced major film festival to either postpone or cancel their event for the year, thus robbing filmmakers and movie studios of crucial windows to promote their new offerings to the media and the public. More than 20 major film festivals including Berlin, Cannes, Toronto and Venice have join forces to curate an online event, “We Are One: A Global Film Festival.” The digital event will span for 10 days starting May 29 and will stream on YouTube.

The Festival will feature content curated by the Berlin, Cannes, Venice, Sundance, Toronto and Tribeca film festivals, and among others. It will showcase films, documentaries, music, comedy and conversations. No details of the programming were announced and it was unlikely that major new movies that generally launch at film festivals would be included.

The organizers of the Cannes film festival said on Monday that they were proud to join in the YouTube event “to spotlight truly extraordinary films and talent, allowing audiences to experience both the nuances of storytelling from around the world and the artistic personalities of each festival.”

Jane Rosenthal, co-founder of the Tribeca film festival in New York that also had to be canceled, said the idea was to inspire and unite people across borders during the pandemic. “All of the world needs healing right now,” Rosenthal said in a statement.

Other festivals taking part include those in Jerusalem, Mumbai, Sarajevo, Sydney, Tokyo and London. While the festival will stream for free, viewers will be asked to donate to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

Facebook and Google may face heat due to weak demand for digital ad

Demand for digital advertising is shriveling after a decade of explosive growth amid the pandemic-fueled downturn. That could complicate things for Google and Facebook, who for the first time may have to contend with revenues that are actually shrinking.

With consumers mostly at home and unemployment soaring, advertisers are slashing promotional spending in some cases, all the way to zero. For Google and Facebook, who together account for 70% of the U.S. market for digital ads, that so far has translated into tighter restraints on spending without the layoffs, pay cuts and furloughs that publishers and other industries have already imposed.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai has already told employees the company will curtail its hiring for the rest of the year and is considering deep cuts in its own marketing budget through 2020, according to internal communications obtained by CNBC that Google confirmed. Facebook warned last month that its business was already being squeezed by the advertising downturn, although it didn’t provide details. In countries hard-hit by the pandemic, it said messaging traffic was up 50% while voice and video calling had doubled, but added that it doesn’t make money on many of those services and that ad business had “weakened” in those regions.

So far, however, it’s not clear how badly the tech giants might be hit. Some of the early clues are expected this week when Google’s corporate parent, Alphabet, and Facebook report their first-quarter financial results. But those results will only give a hint of the impact, given that the pandemic didn’t start to zap the global economy and ad budgets until late February.

That’s one reason analysts polled by FactSet are still predicting a 13% increase in Alphabet’s revenue from the same time last year and a 16% revenue increase in revenue for Facebook. The real test will come in the current April-June quarter, where analysts currently project roughly flat revenue for both companies. That could prove optimistic, though, given that airlines, hotels and other travel-related businesses typically spend heavily on marketing campaigns during the spring and summer.

With most travel frozen by the pandemic, Google and Facebook are likely to see huge sales declines unless the threat of COVID-19 subsides, said Edward Jones analyst David Heger. The good news for Google and Facebook is that digital ad spending can ramp back up as quickly as it declines since it doesn’t require the upfront planning necessary with traditional media.

That means companies might boost digital campaigns at the first sign of recovery, said Tony DiResta, a Washington, D.C., attorney who helps small and large companies promote their brands. Google, at least, has already been through this once as a public company. In the second quarter of 2009 during the Great Recession, its revenue growth slowed dramatically to just 3%, prompting it to reduce its workforce by about 400 employees during that year the only time the company has pared its payroll in its 21-year history.

Since then, Alphabet has added nearly 100,000 employees in a relentless expansion built upon Google’s Android mobile-phone software and other products it continued to develop during the previous downturn. This recession may look quite different. Google, Facebook, and the overall digital market are far larger than they were back then and potentially less nimble.

The digital industry has posted double-digit annual growth for a decade and was on track to hit about $125 billion in 2019 revenue, based on information compiled by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, which hasn’t released final numbers for the year.

For 2020, Magna Research predicts that digital-ad sales growth will slow to 4%, but said revenues won’t shrink despite the tough times. Overall ad sales could fall by 3%, according to Magna, with a flurry of political spending this fall during the U.S. presidential election expected to ease the recession’s blow.

Some analysts believe the current downturn could leave the tech duopoly in an even stronger position once the global economy recovers. Both Google and Facebook have enormous cash reserves $120 billion for Alphabet, $55 billion for Facebook they can use to acquire other potentially attractive services that can’t survive the recession on their own, often for cheap.

Both Google and Facebook are in a good position,” said eMarketer analyst Nicole Perrin. One sign of that buy-low strategy: Facebook last week invested $5.7 billion in India telecom giant Jio. The commitment underscored its resolve to expand into one of the world’s fastest-growing internet markets.

Meanwhile, social distancing and stay-at-home orders appear to have overridden privacy concerns about the companies’ services, which sparked a backlash over the way they vacuum up vast amounts of personal information. Both companies reporting rising usage. “It’s like moths being drawn to a flame,” Heger said. People can’t seem to resist them.

Dish TV partners with MX player to offer on demand video content

India’s premier direct to home cable service provider, Dish TV has partnered with OTT provider MX Player to offer video-on-demand content to its customers. DishTV & d2h users can access MX Player’s content through their Android Set-top-Boxes. Users will now be able to stream popular MX Originals, TV shows, Music Videos, and Movies across multiple genres and languages. Since the set-top-box runs on Android, it offers a host of features including the Google Assistant built-in, Chromecast built-in, Google Play Store for apps, and access to all popular OTT platforms like YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Zee5, Watcho, Voot, ALTBalaji and many more. 

In a bid to offer unmatched video-on-demand content, Dish TV India Limited, India’s leading DTH Company, has announced its partnership with MX Player that recently emerged as India’s #1 entertainment app of 2019 as per the annual FICCI Report. With this strategic association with MX player, Dish TV India has further strengthened its portfolio by adding one more app in the app zone on its Android-based connected devices, namely Dish SMRT Hub and d2h stream for its DishTV and d2h users respectively. Users will now be able to stream an exciting slate of popular MX Originals, TV shows, Music Videos, and Movies across multiple genres and languages. DishTV and d2h already offer the most popular apps including its streaming app ‘WATCHO’.

Commenting on the partnership, Mr. Anil Dua, Executive Director & Group CEO, Dish TV India Limited, said, “Our partnership with MX Player makes it easy for our Android box users to access large content library spanning over 10 languages through this in-built app and further enhance their TV viewing experience. Offering unique and unparalleled content to our customers is always a top priority for us and through this partnership, we have taken one more step to fulfill our promise.”

Mr. Abhishek Joshi, Head of Marketing & Business Partnerships at MX Player further added saying, “Our core proposition is to distribute premium original content in local and regional languages for the 100s of millions of Indians for whom smartphones are the first screen. But with the Dish TV association, we are looking at widening our existing base of viewers and extending a superior entertainment experience to Indian audiences across genres and through a screen of their choice – be it their mobiles, tablets or TV screens.”

In addition to MX Player, the Android box offers a host of features including built-in Google Assistant, Chromecast, Google Play, and access to all popular featured OTT platforms like YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Zee5, Watcho, Voot, ALTBalaji and many more. Coupled with the ease of using voice commands via Google Assistant, the Android-based set-top box is compatible with any television set. ‘Dish SMRT Hub’ and ‘d2h stream’ are internet-enabled Android-based HD Set Top Box, available for INR 3,999 for new subscribers & INR 2,499 for existing subscribers.

Airtel and Disney+ Hotstar join hands for cross-platform partnership

It’s been close to a month since Disney+ launched its Indian Operation with Hotstar. Now in an important partnership, the OTT platform has partnered with leading telecom operator Airtel to offer its VIP subscription with new prepaid Airtel recharge of Rs 401. The recharge offers Disney+ Hotstar VIP subscription worth Rs 399 for one year along with 3 GB high speed data for 28 days. This initiative aims to accelerate the adoption of the video subscription category in the country, by solving two of the key challenges: evolving digital payment infrastructure and prevalence of cash as a payment option. The user is required to make the payment of the recharge using a debit card, credit card, net banking, Paytm wallet or UPI.

The annual subscription to Disney+ Hotstar VIP includes access to movies like The Avengers, Iron Man, Thor: Ragnarok and latest animation movies including Frozen II, The Lion King, Toy Story 4 in Hindi, Tamil & Telugu. The prepaid plan is available for all its telecom circles.

Speaking on the partnership, Prabh Simran Singh, EVP and head subscriptions, Hotstar, said, “Our philosophy is to bring World’s best entertainment to every Indian, and we are thrilled to collaborate with Airtel to make Disney+ Hotstar VIP accessible to their users across the country. Disney+ Hotstar VIP is now available to Airtel prepaid users via Airtel retail stores and through the Airtel thanks app. This collaboration will provide users a convenient and easy way to subscribe to our service.”

Dettol indirectly hits back at Baba Ramdev for spreading misleading information

Hand Sanitisers are among few products that are flying off shelf as demand for these products have exceeded the supply due to its importance in COVID-19 disease. Many FMCG companies have jumped in to this opportunity by launching their version of hand sanitisers.

The competition has intensified and competitors are keeping no stones unturned to grab piece of this market. On Tuesday, Yoga guru and promoter of Pantajali products, Baba Ramdev took a jibe at Dettol, which is leading sanitizer brand in the country. He tweeted a photograph of a bottle of Patanjali sanitiser next to a bottle of Dettol sanitiser, comparing the price and quantity of both.

His tweet pointed out that Reckitt Benckiser’s Dettol sanitiser was being sold at Rs. 82 for 50 ML while his own brand – Patanjali’s sanitiser is being sold at Rs. 55 for twice the quantity – 120 ML. The tweet is pinned on Ramdev’s profile and has garnered over 21,000 retweets and more than 92,000 likes on Twitter.

In response, Dettol put out a statement on Twitter, claiming that it is the ‘gold standard of protection’ for over 80 years and it also claimed to be the ‘most trusted protector of health in India.

In their next tweet, Dettol assured that new rates of their Hand Sanitizer are pegged at Rs. 25 for 50 ML, Rs. 30 for 60 ML & Rs. 100 for 200 ML, which are in line with Govt of India recommendations. In their subsequent reply was a direct response to Ramdev’s allegation and suggested that his initial tweet contained misinformation. The final tweet in Dettol India’s statement read – “Any communication suggesting otherwise/higher price is misleading and ill-intended. In this need of the hour, our efforts should be focused on fighting the danger of COVID19, together and refrain from acting malafide or spreading fake news.

It appears that Baba Ramdev got it all wrong by comparing old prices and netizens took an opportunity to take jibe at yoga guru by uploading pic of Dettol sanitisers with new rates printed on them. But certainely the real question lies in availability of Hand Sanitisers rather than their price.