IP&TV News talks to FOX International’s Sanjay Raina about MENA, TV Everywhere, and more…
IP&TV News: It’s been quite an active few months for FOX International in the MENA region. Can you give us an overview of the most significant developments?
Sanjay Raina: Fox is on a path to seek a greater connect with our audiences. We are significantly upping our investments in movies for our Fox Movies brand, to realise our belief that the viewer should see the channel as a one-stop entertainment destination. In this regard we intend to premiere all the most fantastic series on Fox Movies in addition to Fox, beginning with The Walking Dead and later on with Wayward Pines and Outcast. At the same time, we’ll keep in mind the fact that we need to constantly showcase the best movies. We have also invested for the first time in a regionalised version of the popular international show, ‘So You Think You Can Dance’. Season one started airing on September 28, and we aim to follow it with a regionalised version of ‘Dancing with the Stars’.
All in all, the strategy at Fox is to keep developing the channel as a strong entertainment product, where the viewer’s experience goes beyond movies.
What effect is social having on the MENA broadcasting landscape? Are very any region-specific points of interest here?
Social media is massive here; we’re stunned by its spread and growth. Our Free to Air channel, National Geographic Abu Dhabi, has more than 11 million Facebook fans who constantly talk to us and interact with us. We listen to them and make changes to our communication depending on their feedback. Fox Movies has 4 million Facebook fans, and Fox has another 2 million. This is like a parallel audience and we are mindful of their needs and demands. Keeping in mind their strength, we always include social media investments in our overall marketing spends.
Do you think TV Everywhere can be effectively monetized – and if so, what’s the right approach?
TV Everywhere is still in its infancy, where the advantage lies in differentiation. If I, as either a content provider or a broadcaster, do not establish differentiation on devices, then I am not being honest to the product. We need to realize that people and viewers watch different things on different devices; TV at home, tablet and smartphone when out and about. On the large screen, the traditional TV, I will end up watching long-form programming such as movies, as well as multiple channels, multiple choices, and all in a linear manner. I may once in a while watch VOD services, too. However when I carry the same subscription on smaller devices, such as my smartphone or my tablet, my viewing habits completely change. My preferences would be based on content snacking habits; I would prefer short-form content that can be served along with sports updates – such as snippets of the action, news and so on. This is where the differentiation advantage comes into play, as right now, TV Everywhere is not being catered to. Successful TV Everywhere providers will be able to deliver content relevant to all viewing platforms, both long- and short-form, to suit all customer habits.
What conversations with other operators are you looking forward to having at this year’s TV Connect MENA?
I’m interested to see who’s looking to invest in content for multiple devices, to fuel the TV Everywhere movement. Video on Demand plans will also be something interesting to discuss, as well as mobile plans and so on. This is all geared towards getting the content right for TV Everywhere, as adaptations for the new viewing screens is essential.
Sanjay Raina will be appearing at this year’s TV Connect MENA, the only major TV event in the Middle East and African region linking key TV providers in the connected TV delivery ecosystem.