Divya Radhakrishnan, who quit as President of Rediffusion YR Group’s media arm TME in February, has come back in a new avatar.
Divya has launched a new company – Helios Media Private Limited – that will focus on bringing ancillary services of sales, marketing, research and traffic to the television broadcast industry. Bala Iyengar, former Business Head of Zoom, has joined as Business Director. The company has already signed on two clients -- music channel MTunes India’s first 24-hour Bollywood music channel in HD and Music Express. It has partnered with US-based Dheeraj Kapuria’s World Media Connect (WMC), where Helios will be selling international television audiences to advertisers in India and is handling six channels of the Sun TV Network from that relation. It also expects to sign on some more channels in January 2012 from WMC.
The company marked its debut on November 1, 2011 with offices in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai.
Setting the Premise
In a conversation with exchange4media, Divya divulged that while there were quite a few prospects she had examined before donning on this role. The decision to launch Helios came on the back of a few industry observations. First, there were conversations of the dearth of talent in the media domain and the second was about the burgeoning number of TV channels, a medium Divya is passionate about. “I am a hard-core TV consumer myself,” she said.
Divya acknowledged that at the core of the television business was content, but there were various occasions when channel heads were unable to focus on this function, due to their attention being directed towards issues with the ancillary functions. Secondly, there are around 100 channels waiting to be launched in India, but the advertising pie will not grow with the same proportion. “The pie will get slimmer for the smaller and standalone channels, whose revenue base is lower than Rs 50 crore, the challenges would only get tougher. The end-to-end business model will become unviable and it would make sense for them to outsource some functions. Many international players, in fact, who are also looking to be in India, are used to working with this kind of model. The offer is to provide world-class services in the ancillary areas and let the channel focus on content,” Divya stated.
To Consolidate: Clout without Compromise
Helios intends to bring together a number of standalone and smaller network channels and help maximise the infrastructure it has put up for this purpose. “The team, offices across Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai, tools and training will ensure that each of these products are sold and marketed in the right way. This is not bundling - we are looking at maximising team strength. Each channel would be treated as an independent entity.”
Helios’ primary focus has been the sales vertical because the industry recognises the need for sales. “There have been models in the past, where sales have been outsourced and also the function is very close to the broadcast owners’ heart. It is a good entry point – the other verticals have to be marketed,” remarked Divya.
Bala, who is working on putting the team in place, added here, “There are two kinds of sales people -- one who sell GRPs and the second who sell brands. When you go as a brand to another brand, you need to know the points of connect. Brands are seeking consumers, who are our audiences. In some cases, there is complete overlap and in some cases there is some bit of overlap. We need to understand their brand and how it can connect with our brand in order to effectively take their message to the relevant consumers.”
Of People & Process
Helios’ intention is to differentiate and create its offer on two counts – people and process. Divya is working on training and creating a team that can work on conversations beyond TRPs. She said, “A buyer has the data, how is the sales person adding any value to the conversation and helping with anything that would give the buyer a strategic perspective.”
Bala gave the examples of advertising funded programming and branded content that made a television brand more than just a supply of inventory.
“In fact, the first deal we have done for MTunes is sponsorship of the ad-free band with brand-relevant association. We are looking for sales people in HD. It is a challenging process, but that’s how we will stand-out” he informed, adding, “My team would have to have an agenda. We want it more process driven than relationship driven – that is the differentiation we want.”
The World Media Connect (WMC) relation would see Helios putting together a separate team. For WMC, the team should know the markets than the brands. In fact, the WMC international team would be directly training people in Helios on nuances of both these markets, and there would be cross breeding of talent as well.
The Full Circle
While sales may be the big offer, it is the close coordination with research, marketing and traffic that delivers the whole piece. “There are enough conversations where channel professionals complain that they bring the sales, but the channel is not being marketed well, or the sales deal is not being serviced well by traffic or there isn’t enough ammunition coming from research. All channels need to be marketed like any brand,” commented Divya and informed that Helios would also be tying up with various support functions, including with a creative agency that would be required for end-to-end service.
The company is in the process of hiring a marketing vertical head and a traffic head. “Traffic is always a backroom function and people have not invested in the right kind of talent in this function. But this is the most important aspect of the value chain. Traffic can ensure that you make the most of the deal and today even some of the biggest of networks miss out on this,” explained Divya.
For the ancillary functions like traffic, Helios would also be pitching to large networks.
Divya herself would be heading the research function given her experience and the understanding of the offering. “While a channel like MTunes can still be talking numbers, we are talking to other new channels where the space is otherwise very narrow and hence only numbers as research based information is not enough. If research is not available in India, then go and seek it wherever it is. And we would soon be announcing a tie-up for this as well.”
Divya is expecting the challenges that lie ahead. But she is clear that there is a certain kind of channel that Helios would look to partner with. “We are working very hard to do things differently so that a channel is correctly and relevantly sold, and that can at times even mean refusing deals because we don’t want to undersell. The endeavour would be to work with channels who can benefit from an offer like ours.”