Time was when the Media and Entertainment space in India was pretty uncomplicated. For several decades cinema, radio and the print media were dominant, followed by Doordarshan which established itself in the 70s. With the liberalisation and economic reforms of the early 90s, an explosion took place in the Indian media and what followed was launch of a slew of TV channels with refreshingly different content and a host of FM channels; a slow but steady progress that the cinema industry made towards corporatising and of course the launch of a completely new medium called Internet. Parallelly, the Indian economy opened up, the government was putting policies in place so that the media industry could cope with this exponential growth. Other sectors were also booming including IT and telecom and there was also talk of convergence between media, IT and telecom.
For an innovative entrepreneur, the possibilities suddenly seemed limitless…
When one looks at things in hindsight, the developments look phased and fairly systematic but when one is in the thick of this media explosion, one can only imagine the perplexities that exist in the minds of media entrepreneurs. But there were those who succeeded, and very well at that. I share a few insights that I would think one could keep in mind.
Again, I am looking at media as a whole while making these observations.
Refreshing content: Content is King. As always, content will continue to be the draw which decides the fate of any media. This factor will always remain constant. So no matter what the media, be it starting off a TV channel, FM station or launching a news / entertainment portal, ensure that your content is something which will continue to draw your audiences. Keep looking to find that differentiator and work on an audience insight. If your idea is based on a clear audience insight which highlighted a void and opportunity, that’s a rock solid foundation laid.
Effective alliances: As mentioned above, one cannot emphasise more on how important content is, but to stand out in an intensely competitive marketplace, it may be necessary to look for strategic tie-ups with partners who will be able to add credibility, quality, local reach, lineage, etc., which can make a world of difference to your own platform. In most cases, these associations work well for both partners.
Learn to market your service/ product: Like the first point, this is probably another important aspect. If all else is in place in terms of content, technology and distribution, you have to be able to get in the advertisers. Many good media concepts have sunk, simply because people have not been able to market it well. Use all available resources and ensure that your brand is visible in the marketplace. Just having a good product does not guarantee eyeballs or readership. There is a need to break the clutter and tell the world why your product is better than the rest.
Consolidate before expanding: This is a very critical factor to keep in mind. The media universe in India is very vast and competitive today. Hence it is all the more necessary for entrepreneurs to do everything within their capacity to focus on a business model which is designed to give returns within a stipulated time-frame.
Keep track of changing technology: Whether you like it or not, technology is changing the way businesses are run. The opportunities an entrepreneur has today are limitless thanks to digitisation and convergence. Ensure you are up-to-date with technology which could prove to cut costs, provide an excellent marketing platform, stay in line with global standards and more.
Integrate: Integration is the key. The time-pressed consumer, with multiple options for entertainment consumption, is a challenging lot to reach out to and marketers can no longer use one platform to communicate, while alienating others. Ensure you are offering marketers well-integrated plans that will give them more for every buck they spend on you.
Fuel your entrepreneurial instincts further - expand: There comes a point when businesses are fairly well-established and there is an opportunity for further growth which could come from an alternate business, which syncs excellently with the current one. Keep your ear to the ground and your eyes wide open to look for opportunities of this kind which can take you to the next level of growth.
(Tarun Katial, Chief Executive Officer, Reliance Broadcast Network Ltd.)