The Malayalam Entertainment Channel Flowers and the news channel 24 News under Insight Media City have attained enormous growth in viewership and popularity within a few years of inception. Flowers holds the second position in the BARC’s Malayalam GEC genre ranking. Both the channels continue to perform well on their Digital platforms. 24 News has 2.05 Million plus subscribers on YouTube, and Flowers has a subscription base of 8.27 Million. 24 News changed the narrative of Malayalam News reading by introducing technologies like Augmented and Virtual Reality. They played a significant role in making the news more interactive by conversing with the public.
The Driving force behind the Twenty Four News channel is R. Sreekandan Nair, a veteran journalist and TV host with over 38 years of Media experience. Nair started his career as a lecturer in Sree Kerala Varma College, Trichur, Kerala, who later became a Programming Executive at All India Radio, Trichur. He, along with Flowers TV, holds a Guinness world record for hosting a TV talk-show for 6 hours and asked 674 questions in 2018.
In a candid conversation with Medianews4u, R Sreekandan Nair, MD, Insight Media City, spoke about the factors that lead to the growth of channels, content strategies, election programming plans and more.
Speaking about the channel’s growth, Nair said, “Both our channels have viewers from all age categories, the news Channel 24 is viral among kids and women viewers. We do news presentations in a very informal way. We communicate with the viewers through the language of the heart. In Kerala, channel war is very personal. We are not reluctant in reporting about the achievement of other channels and broadcasters. In social media and digital platforms, we are far ahead of any other channels in Kerala.”
He continued, “When we introduced technologies like Virtual and Augmented Reality, we were mocked as a video game channel. Over time, it gained popularity, and Malayali viewers started accepting our way of news presentation. Now, channels in Kerala are adapting to technologies and 24’s mode of news presentation. I would say, Technology supported by innovation with new and informal presentation methods is the reason behind the growth of our channels.”
Nair has hosted several Malayalam TV shows, including Oru Nimisham, Nammal Thammil, Janakeeya Kodathy and Samadooram, in various TV Channels over these years. He held the position of content head and senior Vice President of Asianet in India’s Kerala sector and a consultant to the entertainment television operations of Mazhavil Manorama.
Speaking on how the work experience with other organisations has influenced him, he said, “I have started my media career as a Programming Executive at All India Radio, the working experience at AIR has helped me in planning, creating, and presenting programs at a low cost. I consider the places I work as a University and take everything as an opportunity to learn and unlearn. Here at 24, we follow WhatsApp administration. We don’t follow a corporate governance concept though we have our corporate structure. That helps in speeding up the decision-making process in the modern broadcast. Decisions on slot changes or program structure are decided in an instant.”
Speaking about balancing his roles as an Anchor, Chief Editor, and Managing Director, he said, “The best role I enjoy is that of the program host or News presenter. There is a common notion that creative people are not experienced in running a channel. But here, the entertainment team and the news team are combined for that purpose. Creativity and Business should go hand in hand. Our creative head and Group COO, Anil Ayroor, is the best example of mixing creative ideas with marketing.”
We are going through a period where there is a rapid decline in press freedom. The Media organisations face criticism, with few of them reluctant to criticise or report against those in power.
Talking about 24’s stand and view on the same, Nair said,” 24 works in an independent space, and we are not keen on being the voice of any political party.”
Commenting on the BARC TRP scam and how the non-release of the news channel data has affected the ad revenue, Nair said, “Channels like 24 are suffering in terms of ad revenue because BARC has stopped the release of the data. They say that they are revamping the whole system within BARC. The problem is the very same BARC is releasing data of General Entertainment Channels. When we approach the advertisers or clients, they say that there is no currency to determine the channel’s position. If BARC stops the News Channels Data, they should then stop the release of Entertainment channels data also because the data comes out from the same meter. It is very illogical, unscientific, and unfair, and channels like 24 are bearing the brunt.”
With Kerala getting ready for the Legislative Assembly elections, 24 is also set to host various shows during the period. Speaking about the content strategy of the Channel, he said, “During the Local body elections in Kerala, 24 presented news with a dash of humour. I was criticised for that and been told that news presentations are not comedy programs. We conversed in people’s language. There is a lesson that comes with the experience of running a channel for two years. The viewers are not sceptical or reserved about the content they receive, and it’s the broadcasters who have reservations. “
He continued,”During the Parliament elections, we introduced a slight humour element in news presentation and reporting, and we understood that common viewers liked it, so we increased the dose during Local Body elections. We will follow the same strategy during the Kerala Assembly elections.”
Elaborating on his vision, Nair said, “Floating an Indian news network in all the regional languages is my dream. We plan to launch it in the South Indian languages and slowly expand to Hindi and explore the English language. This should happen in the next five years, with a plan of starting one channel per year with less investment and exploring the possibilities of technologies.“