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Media Review 09: Farokh Balsara on forces reshaping the Indian media industry

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Media Review 09: Farokh Balsara on forces reshaping the Indian media industry

The Media Review 2009, held in Mumbai on July 17, kicked off with Ernst & Young’s Farokh Balsara speaking on the year that was and the most impactful forces that reshaped the country’s media and entertainment industry. Balsara set the stage for the evening, where media services industry leaders took stock of the digital, OOH, print, radio and television mediums in the year gone by, and the issues faced by the Indian media industry.

For Balsara, the year 2008 was very clearly a watershed year. He took the audience through some of the points that, according to him, stood out in the last year and had impacted the industry in a significant way. Quoting a recent E&Y report, ‘The Dhoni Effect’, he explained that there was minimal impact of the slowdown on small town consumers. “In fact, consumption in small towns is growing and regional markets are set to grow even further, which is a reason why we are seeing many corporates and media companies investing and making their presence felt in these markets.”

Balsara noted that while print had seen a bad start in 2009, and for the first time, print companies reported losses, the year saw them make a return. He observed, “In the beginning of the year, newspapers really didn’t know when to cut down on the number of pages they were printing and newsprint prices at the time was not helping them either. But print was the turnaround story, where they recorded a 40 per cent quarter-on-quarter growth and continued to occupy a lion’s share of the market by the year-end.”

For him, content innovation challenged the status quo in television. Changing consumer preferences and the emergence of newer formats and growth in the English business genre were some of the highlights of the television industry in the year.

Balsara also spoke on the transforming distribution landscape, where Pay TV revenues were finally growing. In the current state, even as subscription revenues are more than advertising revenues, broadcasters have not been benefitting from it.

However, this is changing now, and dependence on advertising revenues for some players has already reduced.

In the same vein, he spoke on the growth of the direct-to-home (DTH) industry. Balsara pointed out that with three new players in the DTH industry and one more in the pipeline, India would be one of the few countries that had six DTH operators. Most international markets had just two or three players, he noted.

Balsara took the audience through alliances and partnerships in the media and entertainment space, and India’s role as an outsourcing hub in the entertainment industry. Mobile marketing gaining increasing importance in the communication plans of the future, and the growth in the share of online media spends from 0.8 per cent to 2.8 per cent were some of the other points that he highlighted.

He also touched on the growing sports domain and the how the Indian Premier League had played a key role in sports getting a new innings. Though only in its second year, IPL is already the fifth most valuable sports brand globally with over Rs 400 crore of advertising revenues, and the overall property valued at Rs 10,000 crore.

Before concluding his views on the year gone, Balsara also spoke on the Indian entertainment industry and the collaboration between international markets like the US and India on that front.

Visit on July 20, 2009 for a detailed session-by-session coverage of the Media Review 2009.


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