Ujaya Shakya
Aug 07, 2018

View from Nepal: The country's fast changing media landscape

The author explains why marketers will have to re-look their media strategy for the country to bring more effectiveness.

Image courtesy: Sajeshwor Sreshta
Image courtesy: Sajeshwor Sreshta
Nepalese media preference is changing fast which is creating a big ripple in the media consumption patterns with lots of Nepalese viewers who are now watching entertainment, comedy, Nepali music, Nepali movies, celebrity lifestyle and sports content on Nepali channels. The country was going through drastic political changes in the past years which has given immense opportunity for the news content to be the preferred genre as the need to get updated with the current happenings and policy changes took precedence. 
But those are the things in past.The situation has now changed, with a stable government at the center, provincial governments for the first time, which will now be competing with each other to perform, and the local government instilled almost after 20 years, which now has lots of authority to take forward their own development agendas. With all these political milestones achieved, the agenda has shifted to economic prosperity of the country, which will now largely impact the media content and audiences viewership pattern moving forward. 
Things seem to be changing fast in terms of the content investment already where they are now looking into general entertainment content more seriously with lots of new format TV content getting launched. Major TV channels have re-launched or are on the verge to introduce and bring contemporary content. There is now good amount of content being produced to attract youth, women and kids viewership, which was largely male viewership until few years back. Few channels have also introduced HD format and many of them will be introducing HD within this year to stay relevant with the urban viewership. 
Youth’s first love in Nepal is music and there has been lots of investment in music industry to produce good quality music videos. In the recent time, we also have seen many new musical stars that have been able to create sensation in last few years by bringing huge fanfare. They are traveling all across the world now performing for Nepalese community residing all across the globe for concerts and shows. This has brought lots of value for them and today many youngsters are aspiring to make it big in music industry. Examples like Indira Joshi who has grown to become a big star- from TV reality shows to the jury of Nepal Idol for Season 1 and 2. She is traveling across the globe to perform for Nepalese residing in London, Malaysia, Qatar and Dubai. 
Similarly, Nepalese movie industry has been doing fabulously well in last few years bringing back the urban viewers to movie theaters with contemporary storyline. There has also been huge investment both in terms of movie production and high quality multiplex theaters, which is at par with international standards, both in terms of technology and infrastructures. Recently there has also been a rise in a lot of the young movie stars, like hugely successful actress Priyanka Karki, who has been popular across the socio-economic class. Of course, who can ignore the doyen of Nepali cinema, Rajesh Hamal, and Deepak-Deepa duo who have become hugely successful in feature films after their continuous success with television program Tito Satya, which has been one of the most successful TV shows of Nepal. Or the popularity of “Dhurmus Suntali duo” who were a part of the successful TV show Meri Basai and have now become the most celebrated celebrity with social relevance post 2015 earthquake. 
Women audiences have been largely ignore in the past. Channels have now realised that women audiences are the decision makers for many FMCG products. In the context, they are relooking at their 7-10pm prime time slots to include many such entertainment programs like reality shows, comedy, mythology and dramas to attract both family audiences and women in particular. Also many channels have realised the importance of their 12-3 pm slot to attract women viewership that was largely ignored in the past as an unproductive slot. They have realised that there is a potential to attract good women viewership, as this is their own time after sending their husband and children off to work and school respectively. 
Print media has always been one of the most impactful mediums in Nepal. The household income level of semi urban and rural Nepal has increase drastically largely due to migrant workers who are sending their foreign earned income back to their family and increasing agricultural price index. At the same time, rural aspiration is also growing with their exposure to outer world, accessibility and media. The good news is also that we have a high growing literacy rate. At the same time, all major national dailies have now taken an approach to incorporate provincial news to build their readership across the region which has also help them to gain wide penetration. 
Of course, we cannot ignore the new age digital media like mobile and internet, which has gained wide penetration with the aggression of telecom operators and changing lifestyle orientation of youth which comprises almost 50 per cent of Nepalese population. There is estimated to be above 110 per cent mobile penetration of which almost 50 per cent are smart phone users. Internet penetration is above 50 per cent and almost 90 per cent accessing Internet via mobile phone. The top 3 applications are Facebook, Messenger and Viber- the calling app, which is gaining popularity in the country. Instagram community is also now growing fast among youth and urban centers. 
Taking consideration of all these changes, marketers will have to relook into their media strategy for Nepal to bring more effectiveness. 
Ujaya Shakya is the founder and managing director of Outreach Group based in Kathmandu and the author of ‘Brandsutra’
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