The TV 18 Group broke up its business venture and CNBC Universe came into existence. With that, the media entity has been able to draw a clear road map on its way forward with the philosophy of 'drill deeper and expand horizons' at its core.
B Saikumar, CEO, TV18 Media, informed that the immediate areas of focus comprised leveraging the acquisition of Crisil MarketWire to its fullest; the focus on the web space with the 10 portals in Web18 seeing adequate action for their growth and three more to be added under the umbrella soon, TV18 2622 mobile venture; Shop18 to be launched in the next three months and the biggest of it all – the decision to foray into regional news channel in the near future.
Even as Saikumar refrained from offering any details citing that it was too early to do so, he elaborated more on the regional plans. He said, "After the Hindi news space, the next on the agenda is going regional. Details have to be still finalised on this, but the idea is to cover a particular region with localised content. If language was be key to localisation, we would do that in addition to tone, area of coverage."
The plans on Shop 18 begin with a launch within the next two to three months. Saikumar informed that the organisation was in the process of identifying products that would go in selling products. He said, "You would have frontline brands on Shop 18 – I think the challenge here is to redefine television shopping space in India, bring credibility to the business and make it mainstream. We want to be considered as legitimate parallel retail channel."
At present, Shop 18 would be purely on the television platform. The group has a separate plan for the web space and the two could be merged later based on what might be a suitable decision then.
The most active of the domains for the group right now is Web18. The plans of going regional and the launch of Shop18 conform to the group's philosophy of broadening horizons. On the part of drilling deeper into a niche, Web18 has too much going on.
"We are reaching 70 million consumers on TV and we want to see how we monetise them on the Internet, build a community, make them more sticky and make money from advertising and e-transactions – that's the way to go for us," said Saikumar, adding, "We would have at least three more portal names within Web 18 in the next three months and the ones that we have are already delivering significantly for the group."
He cited the examples of Moneycontrol.com, which he pointed out, was the world's second largest financial portal; Commoditiescontrol.com, which is India's largest commodities exchange platform; and Poweryourtrade.com. Easy MF and Ask MC have been introduced with the intention of further strengthening Moneycontrol.com.
Saikumar believes that these platforms increase the relationship that the group has with communities like bankers, financial institutions and treasuries of large corporates – in all making a mark on the influence that the group can exert. "What we are doing is to increase our leverage in the business and also the influence that we have among key constituents," said Saikumar, adding, "To take this a step ahead, we have entered the data terminal business and hence acquired Crisil MarketWire."
Giving the rationale here, he said, "Today, if you see Moneycontrol.com, there are 150 people, commodities control has 70 – this kind of expertise and drilling down has to get exploited in various frontiers across media. Wire service is something that we are looking at. CNBC has an existing relationship as customers of the wire service. If you look at wire service typically, there would be banks and so on and it could be safely assumed that these constituents are already on some part of the CNBC Universe. So, we have an existing relationship with these customers."
He further said, "The wire services are divided into equities, commodities and forex, in the last, there is an expertise we are building and we would be – getting into these business was only a matter of time and we have made our move and we have made it with the best in the business."
Clearly, the CNBC Universe is busy. Giving the broader picture, Saikumar said, "We want to reinforce the power of the Universe. We are in the business of data generation and analysis and whatever steps required to master this, you would see us moving extremely rapidly in that direction. So Internet, TV, mobile and the wire – that leaves us with only one more medium."
Saikumar observed, "When you look at the whole picture and figure who is competition, you realise that the competition is what you want to be in the space – there is nothing else and that is what is happening to the Indian market. As you drill deeper, you realise that there is a very thin line of difference between niche and mainline. To me business isn't a niche anymore."
Citing that growth could not come from broadcast alone anymore, he said that such steps were mandatory for any group to grow. He also pointed training and innovative thinking as other areas of focus for the group, saying, "Some people do it in the organisation today but soon, this would become the DNA of the organisation."