The iconic brand BBC has a special focus on the Indian market. The Indian operations of BBC Global News are now being helmed by Naveen Jhunjhunwala, the COO, Indian Operations of BBC Global News Ltd who took over early this year. Jhunjhunwala speaks about BBC, the brand, its differentiating factor, its increasing importance in the Indian market and its innovation in content.
What do you think gives BBC the edge over competitors?
The BBC in India has a legacy of trust, which when coupled with a long existence in the Indian markets, give the ‘BBC Brand’ an edge over competition. Globally, BBC has been known for its breadth and depth of global news reporting.Trust and impartiality have always been our cornerstones and audiences are at the heart of what we do, so we strive to ensure that all of our output is of the highest quality.
According to research, BBC is the leader in global breaking news, with journalists in more countries than any other international news channel and bureaux in 85 cities around the world. With this network we are able to provide our viewers with local insight and expertise because our teams live and breathe the story of their homeland every day. Whilst other channels have to send people to cover news in many places, ours are already there. The BBC’s leadership in coverage of fast moving international stories is also reflected in independent data which shows that the BBC is by far the most re-tweeted news source on Twitter.
We have invested over the years internally, and have built an excellent team and worked on enhancing their knowledge and understanding of what we do best. Coupled with excellent relationship management we bring immense value to our clients. These factors give us the edge that we enjoy in the market.
Going forward, what would be BBC’s commercial priorities and what objectives have you set for yourself?
My objective is ‘commercial growth along with growth in audience base’. Besides growing our distribution business and increasing ad revenue, I want BBC to reach more audiences whether via TV, on-line or mobile.We already have strong India-related content and one of my targets is to build on this with even morerelevant programs to make content closer to our Indian audiences.
We are in continuous talks with different segments to enhance our offerings, on screen and on-line, and come up with innovative programs, and target to engage, not only the traditional BBC audience, but reach out to more people and draw them to sample our offerings.
We are providing special emphasis to our on-line business, and it is one of our fastest growing areas in today’s world. We are planning to invest in and enhance our India portal and beef up our presence.
How important is the Indian market for BBC?
As many of you may be already aware, BBC has been broadcasting to and from India since the 1930s – people started relating to BBC via the World Service Radio, and we were one of the first to broadcast News - we are very proud of our channel’s heritage here and our continuing relationship with the Indian market. India’s the world’s largest democracy so it is a critical market for any international broadcaster who wants to build their business. BBC already enjoys a leadership position in India as it is the number one international news channel in India as per the recent Ipsos Affluent Survey for Asia Pacific. And this year, BBC has identified India as one of the key markets for investments across the Globe, making the India market a huge priority.
India’s economic growth coupled with a young English speaking, digitally engaged audience interested in global affairs gives BBC opportunity for expanding its reach in India. The Indian mobile and digital industry is growing at a phenomenal pace and that is also a positive factor for our business with interests across broadcast and internet.
Digitization in India has opened up doors for in-organic growth in India which makes it a very attractive market. The Government’s recent move to increase the Media Ownership Guidelines is welcome, and also the move on FM Radio is very encouraging.
What kind of innovations in content does BBC offer to advertisers and do you think there is need for further innovation?
Collaboration is most important for any successful business partnership. Media space is very dynamic since the audience is on the move and it’s up to us (broadcasters) to provide solutions that clients want.
As a commercial international news provider, we work with our advertising partners to package solutions across all devices and have achieved extremely encouraging results. It’s seamless and that’s what’s attractive to clients and audiences. Advertisers only need to think about the audience they want to reach and we at BBC give an integrated solution in a joined-up way rather than a fragmented and separated approach to TV, desktop and mobile audiences. This is a good thing, as we strive to give both audiences and advertisers what they want individually on all the screens that they are using. Our USP is that you have a great globally recognised brand, with a great product; audiences know they can get the same great trusted high quality BBC content whenever, wherever they are. In India we are increasingly gettinginterest from national clients (which is great), as they see our ability to push their message both at home and around the world.
Do you think the current news channels in India are offering enough scope, professionalism, service and innovation to clients?
As a global broadcaster, BBC appreciates the freedom of press that exists in India which allows so many news channels to operate.BBC has always maintained its distinct identity of carrying international news and is not in competition with the domestic channels. BBC World News is an international news channel; we pride ourselves on telling the stories of India around the world and bring stories of global importance to Indian viewers.
As an international channel, delivering news to more than 380 million households across the world, our ability to offer a global perspective, with knowledge and insight from our vast network of journalists is what makes us stand out.
We also believe that in spite of the number of channels increasing we maintain our position of being the most trusted source of news in India. We enjoy a positive relationship with the domestic channels and are happy to work with them from time to time.
What are some of the steps you will be taking to ensure audience growth for the BBC in India?
BBC is already the leading international news channel in India andbbc.com continues to be India’s #1 English-language international news website reaching 3 million unique visitors and with 17.4 million page views across desktop and mobile according to ComScore (May 2014 ranking) and Omniture (May 2014 traffic). Plusbbc.com is also this country’s #1 international news provider among young Indians (15-34 age group). There are more BBC World News Facebook fans in India than any other country with folk here making up 17% of our total FB fans.Having said all this, I maintain that there is always room for more. Some of the initiatives that you can look forward to are:
· More India relevant content to engage Indian audiences
· More focus on digital since households in India doubled post digitization from 20milion to 39million now.
· Continuing initiatives like India being chosen as the pilot area for our instant messaging trial – during the elections we shared content with audience via WhatsApp
· More innovative launches like India edition of BBC.com on mobile which launched in March. This complements the desktop edition and India section of the BBC.com news site and provides a tailored experience, including top India news stories along with global news headlines, video, business, sport and the best from our features content. It also gives people access to news headlines from the BBC World Service Hindi and Tamil sites.
Can we expect more India centric content from the BBC in the near future?
One of my key priorities is to build even further on our content on the channel and online which are more relevant to the Indian audience.
BBC is committed to the Indian market as highlighted by our coverage of elections, plus India Direct Series and Hardtalk Specials that went out earlier this year. Our bureaux in Delhi and the team in Mumbai makes sure the Indian story is being shared around the world on a daily basis through general news reporting and through programmes like India Business Report, which airs weekly and covers India centric developments.
Coming up we will have dedicated focus on business in India, especially when eyes around the world will be on the World Economic Forum in November. Our international correspondents will be covering stories and features which will be very relevant to the Indian audience and also cover India across the globe.
Plus, we will look at delivering India relevant content that works across both TV and on bbc.com. For example, we will have Made In India, which starts in September, a series of six short films and online content that explores the stories behind Indian brands and products.
Also, you may be aware, we have BBC websites in local languages, and are focusing on the Hindi website as it is gaining in popularity.