Amitabh Srivastava Director, I-Media International
Amitabh Srivatsavaâ€™s story resembles a complete bollywood entertainer; the man fought all odds to make his mark in media marketing. Amitabh discloses his vision for his venture I-Media International in a chat with Rajat Arora of BestMediaIinfo.com.
Q) Started from hospitality and today youâ€™ve headed the distribution of most of big media organizations and now running your own venture. What a journey it has been?
I still vividly remember my fatherâ€™s sage advice that no work is bad work and work is worship. I started from a grass root level in hospitality industry at the age of 19 in 1989 and my inclination towards media landed me where I am today. Altogether this journey has been really exciting, starting from Times TV then moving on to MTV where I was working alone in Delhi with no office. Heading BBC World for its marketing and distribution in South Asia was another milestone. Then came Aaj Tak, where my skills did a real magic of distribution not only in India but abroad too. My last corporate job was with Walt Disney where I was Director- Affiliate relationship in 2006. Post that I went on my own to launch and conceptualize my own strategic consultancy firm, I Media International.
Q) All companies you had worked with hired you at the start of their channels and you established them really well. Whom do you attribute this success?
It gives you a great feeling to start form zero to reach at millions of houses. I was fortunate to get this kind of opportunity with every organization. I was always interested in choosing companies of repute and having base and knowledge about Indian demographic my job was easy and I worked for top multinational brands like BBC worldwide, MTV and Walt Disney.
Aaj Tak was the only name with whom I got associated at the time when it was only a half hour news segment on national broadcaster and they were planning to launch it as a 24 hour channel. I feel really happy and satisfied today to see it as no 1 amongst all news channels since then. I think I solely attribute my success to my bosses and my team who did exactly how we wanted to do.
Q) I Media International assist foreign broadcasters to set up their base in South Asia, in particular in India. As the space is so much cluttered, do you think Indian ground is still fertile enough for the growth?
The numbers in India are exciting for the foreign broadcasters. For instance the number of households having the cable connections in Mumbai is almost equal to the population of Holland. These numbers attract them to cater the Indian audience with quality content. I am helping them out to settle in India by acting as a catalyst. For the Media industry in India sky is the limit and there is always dearth of good content.
Previously channels were broadcasting but gradually they are turning to narrowcasting. If we focus on Delhi only there are 6 to 7 news channels and in Punjab there are about 11. This shows how regional channels are growing in India. There are about 300 channels in India now and in coming years there will be over 500 channels. The number of channels is not a deterrent of any growth; in fact it is a very positive sign. The available data indicates much more growth and large revenue opportunities for new players.
Q) What is your vision for I Media international? Any plans you may like to disclose?
There is huge demand for Indian content in international market space as well. My vision for I media International is to be a one stop shop for international media solutions and work mainly into new media space as I foresee tremendous scope there. I would like to dabble with all these new options. I would be setting up one office in London soon as thatâ€™s one base where you can coordinate with west easily.
Q) You are the Country Head for the Dutch international radio service, RNW (Radio Netherlands Worldwide). How far have you reached in establishing its radio and multimedia domain in India?
RNW (Radio Netherlands Worldwide) is a state funded radio station and has more than 3000 affiliate partners with the presence across the globe. As there is an embargo on news and current affair content on private fm in India, we are trying to develop the non news and current affair programming for it. We are exploring some new avenues by putting the radio content on cable networks. We are also working with the university radio and talking with leading Indian multimedia sites and mobile companies to keep our content on their websites streaming and giving them option of WAP on international news. I am also trying a deal with worldâ€™s biggest radio broadcaster on co production and if that happens it would be great to work with them.
Q) IPTV, Mobile Telephony, Broadband, Internet, Airlines syndication and Hotels content syndication are the new technology areas. Do you think these unconventional distribution means are capable enough to bring in large revenues?
In previous years TV used to be the only medium but as the technology is advancing it is opening new gateways for content and that also brings along revenue. Take a very simple example if we download a latest ring tone from mobile it charges Rs.10 for a 10 second download and the same amount or less we pay as one month subscription for a GEC channel . So this is a very good indicator or a benchmark figure to assume that how much capable the medium like mobile phone is for fetching large revenues.
Q) Being in industry for more than 15 years, can you predict which domain of electronic media will witness the maximum growth and why?
I feel the new media is one domain which will flourish in coming years. However TV will witness more growth in few yearsâ€™ time and limited â€˜ad pieâ€™ will also grow. In near future Indian media will witness the synergy of all media options including print, web , tv , internet and on ground activities coming together giving advertiser a 360 degree marketing solutions and getting them value of money. Isnâ€™t it great assuming flat ad rates for all medium at a single platform?
Electronic media in India is a sunrise industry and having seen it from its dawn has provided me with valuable insight into its operation. I am in tune with tomorrow and shall seize newer opportunity of growth with both my hands.