NDTV Imagine, the entertainment venture from NDTV, is setting up its own sales team. The entity has appointed STAR India’s former senior sales hand Juhi Ravindranath as EVP-Sales, Strategy, Planning and Operations. The other members in place are STAR India’s Rahul Shaw as Senior VP-Sales; CNN-IBN’s B Chaitanya heading Ad Sales Traffic; and Mediae2e’s Rajat Desai. All of them would be reporting to Ravindranath. The unit is in the process of recruiting more members.
The move is seen as an interesting one, as so far NDTV Media has been handling the ad sales function of all channels from the NDTV Group, which include the news channels and the lifestyle channel. NDTV Media, in later years of its establishment, also signed on the sales responsibilities of non-NDTV ventures like MSN, Nick and Mi Marathi. In fact, it has been learnt that at present, NDTV Media is in talks with other entertainment ventures like Viacom-18 to partner with them on ad sales.
According to industry sources, NDTV Media was to initially handle the sales of NDTV Imagine, but the talks were discontinued due to some disagreements. However, Sameer Nair, CEO, NDTV Imagine, explained, “It has been agreed that at launch, and during the initial quarters, it is important for programming, marketing, distribution and ad sales to work in perfect sync to ensure that all the different pieces mesh with each other, and be able to rapidly adapt with emerging scenarios.”
Will this in any way curtail NDTV Group’s ability to provide network solutions to its clients? Nair replied, “Not at all. In any case, channels, or groups of similar genre channels, are best sold independently so as to not undervalue any particular channel or genre by doing network deals. That being said, when the opportunity for a network solution arises, it is very easily resolved by a pre-set mechanism of floor prices and inventory availability, a system that will be put in place at the Group level.”
NDTV Media appears to be very clear that it wants an entertainment venture in its fold soon. If NDTV Media’s talks with other entertainment ventures do work out, it would be interesting to see whether the competition on the revenues front between these two bodies brings larger benefits to the NDTV Group.
There is, however, a clear flip side to the situation as well, given that competition in the Hindi general entertainment space is already stiff, and more units are looking at group selling rather than standalone. Examples can be seen with Network 18 unifying its revenues under Network 18 Media (earlier known as TV18 Media), and STAR India, too, has now begun to undertake ad sales for other non-STAR media units.
However, one may imagine that if Nair and Raj Nayak, CEO, NDTV Media, have agreed to this decision, and Dr Prannoy Roy has endorsed it, it must be for the larger good of NDTV.