Viacom18, the equal joint venture company between Viacom and
TV18, is looking at launching more channels, expanding into
regional markets and creating content for new media.
is conducting a due diligence on the ETV general entertainment
channels (GECs), Viacom International Media Networks President,
CEO and Viacom18 board member Robert Bakish said today. "The
regional markets are seeing fast growth," he added.
Indiantelevision.com was the first to report that TV18 had
offered Viacom the option to buy 50 per cent stake in five
ETV GECs and 24.5 per cent equity interest in ETV Telugu.
If Viacom decides to buy stake, the ETV GECs would move to
asked about what kept the joint venture alive (the only surviving
one in the M&E space between a global media giant and
a local company), Bakish said that it is not enough to have
a shared vision. The success of a JV is all about having
a cultural fit. Our venture has had challenges and we have
been forced to evolve. We decided to get into film production.
We launched more channels like Sonic. Then we created IndiaCast
to take advantage of digitisation. We see an opportunity to
export content from India. We created a channel in the UK,
Rishtey, using content from Colors and MTV.
aim of Viacom partnering with Network18 was to make a local
cultural connection. In 2006 we realised that India
offered opportunities we could not ignore. Viacom has resources
but we felt the need for a local partner. JVs are a tradeoff.
You dont have complete control. Therefore it is important
to have productive dialogue. In Korea, we have a JV with SBS
which started a year ago, said Bakish.
India, the company realised that brand positioning would be
key. Therefore the decision was taken to make Colors edgier
and more of a risk taker. The good news for India is
that more local production money is coming in. Out of this
will come quality content. He also noted that a hit
television format is the most valuable IP. After all,
a local version of Fear Factor played a key role
in Colors launch and success.
Group CEO Sai Kumar said the joint venture had been helped
by the alignment between the two companies in terms of the
scale of ambition and challenges that would have to be met.
He noted that IndiaCast has allowed for reverse migration.
Colors is now in 70 countries. It is not just about
the channel going abroad. Even shows like Ballika Vadhu have
been being picked up abroad, he said.
about new media, Sai Kumar said while platforms like OTT and
VoD represent a risk and an opportunity, Viacom18 prefers
to focus on the latter. Kumar noted that 13 years ago distribution
became king as there was a lack of platforms to showcase content.
Today the good news is that content is once again king. "The
challenge today is that while consumption of content is at
its highest it has gone multi device. The different platform
windows are each a kingdom. With these platforms the possibility
of milking content for revenue has gone up. The long tail
will stand a better chance in the future, he averred.
called IndiaCast the second phase of the JV partnership.
Indiacast has a global multiplatform mandate.
Bakish said. Star and Zee surprised people by coming
together. We responded by creating one entity and partnered
with Disney UTV to unlock the value of digitisation. While
Nickelodeon and Disney compete fiercely with each other globally,
the fact is that you have to look at each country differently."
Referring to film business in India, Kumar noted that it is
a great adjunct for Viacom18s other businesses. There
are opportunities for synergies in our film business with
Colors and other channels. At the same time, our exposure
to film will be strategically limited. Having two films that
are hits does not mean that the next three will also work.
With each film you start from ground zero.
noted that film production business is not for the faint at
heart. We had long conversations about why we were in
the film production business. We have had hits and misses
but that is the nature of the game. Not everything will work.
terms of the challenges facing the media and entertainment
industry, Bakish spoke about the lack of reliability in measurement
globally due to multiple platforms. India is great to
do business in but it isnt perfect. Could digitisation
have happened sooner? Sure. Could Phase one of DAS have been
a solid four cities? Sure! Phase two is now happening and
the industry needs to keep up the pressure to see that things
work, he noted.
Kumar noted that advertising is now at its softest. Things
will not change unless the measurement system improves. More
homes for SEC A could help the niche genre, he added.