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'From the'Small Big' company to the 'Big Small' company'

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2007 was a remarkable year for the Indian media industry. It was a year that witnessed small steps as well as giant leaps, fundamental shifts as well as tactical maneuvers, greater clutter as well as cutting edge innovation.

On the whole, 2007 fulfilled a lot of potential in the industry, yet it leaves us with a sense that the Indian media story is still pregnant with a thousand more possibilities? Media players saw newer growth pastures, widened their business horizons, deepened their portfolios and above all competed and cooperated aggressively. This was a sign that the industry was alive, kicking and ready to reach the next level. The fact that many global brands made a beeline to enter the market or strengthen their presence is a testimony to the health of the industry.

There was widespread strengthening of newer trends such as the heightened sensitivity to user generated content across genres, and a greater focus on interactivity and 'mobilization' of content across the board

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The year saw some good old fashioned competition reach newer pinnacles. Within television, multiple channel launches, especially in news and entertainment, aggressive sales and marketing ploys such as those displayed in the battle for cricket broadcasting supremacy, innovative new show formats, dogged pursuance of alliances and rights and the perennial scramble for prime time shares, ensured 2007 was an exciting period for the industry. At the same time, there was widespread strengthening of newer trends such as the heightened sensitivity to user generated content across genres, and a greater focus on interactivity and 'mobilization' of content across the board.

Even in other media such as print, competition became fiercer amongst the national print majors. Yet, there was also a rise of more targeted products, creating niche plays across regions (launch of city specific compacts in Delhi and Bangalore), demographics such as the youth, women (launch of youth oriented compact paper) or genres such as lifestyle, global fashion, celebrity gossip ( launch of many international magazine titles). The same high intensity and feverish growth pitch could be seen in the online and new media space, with multiple mobile marketing solutions, out of home innovations and web enabled services hitting the market.

Clearly, 2007 was a momentous year for the industry, with a great degree of optimism in the air. However, there were also concerns that made us exercise caution in all that optimism. Talent management became an important issue for the industry, with sustained levels of attrition. Industry fee and rate structures were under much debate, especially for broadcasters with respect to the surcharge issue. The need for a re-alignment in these became a matter of contention and that is yet to be fully resolved. The regulatory environment for the industry did not improve substantially and a lot of streamlining in policymaking is still necessary in close consonance with industry players. Issues such as revenue leakages through media value chains and a greater level of industry consensus and organization are other key areas that continued to impede us in 2007.

This year, the group saw tremendous 'competency expansion', apart from continued organic growth in its already existing market leading brands.

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For Network18, 2007 was a defining moment in many ways. Befittingly, in 2007, we confidently unraveled our new brand identity and re-committed ourselves to continue enlightening, entertaining and enabling India. Moreover, the year symbolized a great culmination of the first phase of Network18's growth story. By 2007, we have progressed from being only a "small company" a decade ago, a production house as our genesis, to now becoming a "small BIG company", which is considered as one of India's leading full play media conglomerates.

In fact, in 2007, our growth story reached newer unprecedented highs. This year, the group saw tremendous 'competency expansion', apart from continued organic growth in its already existing market leading brands. In 2007, Network18 expanded into newer media such as print and genres such as general entertainment, through strategic alliances with global leaders like Viacom and Forbes, the acquisition of Infomedia and announcement of the JV with Jagran Prakashan.

We diversified our gamut of services with the launch of E18, our full spectrum events business which clocked early coups with prominent music gigs such as Americas and Scorpions. Our filmed entertainment venture Studio18 led from the front with innovative distribution and marketing strategies as was evident from Jab We Met becoming one of the year's blockbusters, despite the high voltage drama from other big budget releases.

We continued on the leadership path in the Indian online space with stronger performance of all portals across the content, communication and transaction spectrum. Our foray into the Hindi online space with the launch of 'Josh18' and success with our latest mobile innovation "Moneycontrol's Markets on Mobile" ratified our status as new media pioneers in the country. In fact, Markets on Mobile has already emerged as one of the largest mobile subscription services in the country within a couple of months of launch.

On the television side, our leader brands across business news, general news and music and entertainment (CNBC Channels, CNN-IBN, IBN 7 and MTV Network channels) continued to traverse new boundaries and sustained their momentum through 2007. Ratings, viewer feedback, awards and advertiser interest ratified the continued progress of our television business.

Clearly, in 2007, it was definitive that Network18 has become a "small BIG company". The future promises to be exciting and invigorating for all of us at the group. Our long term vision is quite simple and clear. Network18 must emerge as the "Big Big company" on the global media stage, a torchbearer of the Indian media industry's arrival on the world market.

However, our immediate objective towards achieving that vision is to FIRST become a "big SMALL company". The "SMALL" symbolizes our passionate commitment to huddle together (Much like the famous Indian cricket one!) and continue to work as a well knit team which envisions and synergizes together and above all never loses the spirit of innovation and enterprise that has been the DNA of Network18. At Network18, expanding size will not mean furthering distances!

At the group, our success mantra has always been our ability to execute with great precision, led by India's best media talent along with strong adherence to our core values and vision. We hope to continue attracting and retaining the most innovative and passionate minds in the business as we strive to achieve the next phase of the Network18 growth story. 2008 and beyond?

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