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We have grown ahead of the market: Sudhanshu Vats

Viacom18 Media’s Group CEO speaks about how the year has been for the network, and plans to increase revenues from ancillary sources beyond television

Jagadeesh Krishnamurthy | Mumbai | March 5, 2015

Sudhanshu-Vats Sudhanshu Vats

Viacom18 has announced the expansion of Colors’ portfolio to re-brand the five ETV regional general entertainment channels (owned by Prism TV) and bring them under one brand. With this brand licensing, ETV Marathi, ETV Gujarati, ETV Kannada, ETV Bangla and ETV Oriya will soon don the Colors identity. BestMediaInfo caught up with Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO, Viacom18 Media Group, to get his views on how the year has been for the channel, their regional market expansion plans, and growth of revenues from sources beyond television. Edited excerpts from the conversation:

How has the year 2014-15 been for Viacom18?

It has been a good year for us. We have grown ahead of the market in terms of both ad sales and broadcast figures. We have also continued our journey to grow profitably. As you know, in FY 2014, we turned PAT profitable. We will continue that. The momentum on bottom-line growth is equally high. And, as a matter of fact, now that we are growing as a company, we are getting leverage on profitability.

As compared to competitors, Viacom has a limited set of television channels. Will that approach be followed going forward?

Yes. In our own way, we are expanding. We have grown from four channels three years back to around 10 channels now. We will play our own game. We will continue to see where we want to play, how we want to play, and what are the number of channels that need to be on-air.

Following the new re-branding to establish your regional foray, are there any plans to add more regional channels to your stable?

We do keep looking at these markets from time to time. And, if there is something sensible, we will look at it. However, we don’t have any specific plans.

MTV Indies was a kind of new experiment from Viacom. How has it performed so far?

It has completed one year, and the channel has done well. We got to get more original content going. So, one of the key challenges is to drive original hours of content on Indie music. We will get some of that going. But, my personal view is that segmentation is the way to go. And, Indies is, therefore, a good thing and worked out well for us. We have taken Indies to the live space.

Staying on the on-ground space, how much revenue is that segment contributing to your top line, compared to the television business?

As of now, that segment is very small. But, as we go forward, the ancillary revenue of online as well as live events and merchandise space should contribute to around 10 per cent of our revenues. And, we are currently at around 3 per cent.

Will we see any significant move from Viacom in the digital content space to create a destination like Star’s HotStar?

Digital is an important area to look at, and we will continue to bolster our digital space. We will see what we can do as we go forward. There is nothing specific that we can share right now, but it is definitely a space that we are looking at. Our brands are very active digitally and have a lot of traction in that medium. Even programmes on Colors are very strong for us. We have to see what is right for us.

What is Viacom’s stand regarding BARC? Will you be switching over to the new measurement system when it goes live?

BARC is a joint industry body, and we are part of the industry. We basically believe that BARC will have a more accurate and better measurement. And basically, our preference would be to go with the measurement which is more robust, transparent and accurate. We are still evaluating our decision. Come April 2015, we will go with one measurement.

Also read: Viacom18 extends Colors franchise with 5 new regional avatars

Info@bestmediainfo.com

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