Whether it was the speed of its growth or the manner in which competition panned out between Viacom18, a younger player in comparison to News Corp’s STAR India, Sony Television International’s Multi Screen Media or Indian media behemoth and the oldest broadcaster in India Zee Entertainment Enterprises, Viacom18 had quickly earned its place as a media company to watch out for.
At one point, each of its brands including the likes of Colors, MTV, Nick and Viacom Motion Pictures were leaders in their space, constantly challenging convention. However, the last few months have been tougher on the company.
As the company takes a key step to regain its momentum and structure its future growth with the appointment of a leader in the form of Sudhanshu Vats, exchange4media lists out nine challenges that Viacom18, and its newly appointed Group CEO Sudhanshu Vats, will face in the year ahead.
1. Bringing Colors back to its once occupied leadership position
Even as the channel has taken the number two spot in the last two weeks on the back of its new reality show ‘Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa’ and the fiction content of the channel picking pace, Colors now knows what it is to operate in the highly competitive Hindi general entertainment channel space. Star Plus not only reclaimed its leadership from the channel but has held on to it consistently, while Colors has seen innumerable weeks on the number four spot.
2. MTV and the youth television market share
MTV may be the brand that the youth like to wear on its sleeve but competition in the youth market space with Channel [V] and Bindass has exploded. Channel [V] demonstrated that appointment viewing can work for a music channel and it has ratings on its side too.
3. More hits from Viacom18 Motion Pictures
The motion pictures part of the business has been a strong one for the company but its recent movies such as ‘Department’, ‘Bittoo Boss’ and ‘Tezz’ have not taken off at the box office.
4. Growing regional footprint
One of the most important steps for Viacom18 would be to expand its footprints into regional markets. This was expected with the Reliance Industries investment in the company that had led to the takeover of Eenadu channels. However, how this takes shape would play a definitive role in whether Eenadu can contribute to Viacom18 as well.
5. Adding more offers and bringing momentum
Viacom18’s plans to launch new channels such as a Hindi movie channel, which is another proposition of scale in the broadcasting space, was stalled and the company sold the movie library to STAR India. At present, Viacom18 operates in Hindi GE, kids, youth and music space and niche international channels space. However, to be able to leverage synergies that a Network brings to the table, Viacom18 will need at least one more proposition of mass scale.
6. Managing relationship and expectations with Viacom
Being an equal joint venture brings a set of expectations and relationship management with both Viacom, which is the international player in the JV and also the Indian company, Network18 even as the JV’s Chief will work very closely with Network18.
7. Simplifying its offer
Viacom18 is in the phase where it has taken most of the steps required for it to gain scale and move in speed. But it is time for the company to consolidate its offer, in order to take stock of what it has achieved and to structure its future growth. The company has benefitted from its over-diversification but it now must consider the option of streamlining its operations.
8. Steering the business through times of change
With digitisation around the corner, with new competition emerging every day, with the increased government interest in broadcasting matters, with tougher business environments and rules and most of all with the spoilt, ever-evolving consumer who is willing to switch brand loyalties with the flick of a remote, managing broadcasting business becomes a monstrous task.
9. Setting the entertainment agenda
At one point, Colors and MTV were trendsetters of their space. While this may not be on the immediate mandate for the company but this would be one parameter that would establish once again whether Viacom18 businesses reclaim their role as thought leaders.
While Vats has immense experience in the FMCG space, this would truly be the first time he would be in a business that is more direct to consumers, more intangible in its offer and works on no formulae whatsoever.