Resurrection of Free-to-Air TV

by Johan Ishak, CEO of Media Prima TV Networks

Television is probably the most influential media ever created.

Many would think the internet should get that credit but little do we realise the internet has only been made commercial over the last 3 decades, whereas TV has been around at least since the early part of the last century.

I am from Generation X.

We grew up with a set schedule in our heads ensuring us to complete our dinner before 9.00pm so that we can watch Battlestar Galactica, The A Team, Knight Rider, Mission Impossible (the original) or even stayed up late to accompany our moms to watch Dallas, Knots Landing or even Solid Gold (yeahh! I know – what a cheeky little boy I was).

The cartoon shows at 6.30pm used to act as a biological clock in our heads to call us back into our homes after a football or rounders match by the street side.

For the Muslims, we got free “mengaji” (Quran reading) tuition from Muqaddam.

We even learnt to be compassionate from a syndicated foreign series from Japan called Oshin.

The list goes on and on and the best part is, we cherished those moments quite sweetly even without the speed, mobility or the edginess of the internet.

Now at an age I shall not disclose, but fairly seasoned, I am given the opportunity to manage not one, but four TV stations, namely TV3, TV9, 8TV and ntv7.

On top of that, we have an internet Video-on-Demand (VOD) platform called

I take pride in doing all I can to restore the glory of TV alongside the internet. I believe TV is here to stay for a longer time, if not forever.

Once people believed the invention of TV would mean the demise of radio, but it proved to be wrong.

So I shall hope that the invention of the internet will not kill TV.

The Malaysian change of guards (new Government) on the 9th of May makes last month a magical one for TV.

It is as if we have emerged from under the water to fly up above where oxygen is unlimited.

It is a resurrection. It is the boost after the F1 vehicle had changed its tyres. It is a story of survival.

May 2018 presented to us broadcasters the hope of true journalism, particularly for our news and current affairs programmes.

This newly found freedom of journalism has allowed us to practice impartiality.

We are happy that for the month of May 2018, all our news programmes cumulated over 400 million views by 17 million viewers giving an average of 23 times per person: 17 million covers 81% of the Malaysian TV audience across 7 million TV households.

Nielsen reported that TV3 is the No. 1 channel in Malaysia achieving 30% of the Malay market audience whereas 8TV is the No. 1 Chinese channel hitting 32% of the Chinese market audience. All stations sum up to Media Prima’s 35% overall market share.

For advertisers, particularly those who are hungry to feed their potential consumers, an RM1 is hypothetically split between the 4 stations in order to get a gigantic 35% coverage.

Although many would embrace the digital advertising space, it is not yet the time to put all of your bets on a single colour on the Roulette table. Put on both Red and Black. After all, the mass market who is still watching TV is the largest pool of consumers who will be drinking your malt drink, eat your instant noodle, apply your shampoo or even learn about products that are distributed via internet sites.

We discovered that the TV content in Malaysia has a strong mass viewership stickiness.

This is true particularly with the favourite drama slots such as Akasia, Dahlia, Samarinda, Lestary, Zehra, Iris and Cerekarama. These drama programmes can go up to 4 million viewership reach.

Malaysia’s No. 1 entertainment award show, Anugerah Juara Lagu (AJL), saw a phenomenal average viewership of 3.8 million in its 32nd edition in February 2018. This had a tail effect of 20 million digital views when AJL was democratised as free content on YouTube.
If a decade ago the country was stormed by an unprecedented drama series called Nur Kasih, a decade later now, a new series, Nur, is making its round of fame. This nicely scripted drama with strong casting and cinematography now soars proudly especially when it involves a taboo subject of an Ustaz marrying a prostitute (enough said).

Statistics do not lie.

To synergise TV viewership power with the energy from digital activation is to slow cook a Briyani with a lamb shank in the pot of Basmathi rice.

Don’t just eat the Briyani rice without the lamb or don’t just eat the lamb without the Briyani rice. Eat together.

After all, my doctor did advise me we must not eat protein alone. We must combine it with some carbohydrates.

In this case, take both TV and digital. I promise you that you will not be disappointed.

Long live TV!

See axe man Johan in action here:

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Noelle Lim, Director, BFM Edge Education
Vigneswaran Sivalingam, Director of Operations, Teledirect of Telecommerce
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