Future belongs to media brands that pivot to digital business: Abhinav Khare

Khare, CEO of Asianet News Group, talks about his vision for the network, the growth of digital media, hopes from the upcoming festive season and more

e4m by Neethu Mohan
Updated: Jul 23, 2019 7:37 AM



Abhinav Khare has taken over as CEO of Asianet News Group from Amit Gupta. The group is undergoing strategical innovations under the leadership of Khare. He believes future belongs to media brands that will be able to successfully pivot to the digital business.

In a conversation with exchange4media, Khare spoke about his vision for Asianet News Group, the growth of digital media, hopes from the upcoming festive season and more.



His vision as the CEO of Asianet News Group


We are talking about Bharat or India. The entire growth is coming from the vernacular segment. South India has the highest average revenue per user and this is where we dominate. Our digital business will be No1 in all four south Indian states and we will be doing reasonably well in Bangla, Gujarati, Hindi and English. South India is where we will dominate, and we will continue to beat the industry growth rate.

If last 52 weeks’ impressions are taken into consideration, Asianet News is four times larger than all English news channels. That is the kind of dominance we have in Malayalam. We will continue to innovate, both on product and technology levels.

We have to work hard on Suvarna News to become No 1 in Karnataka. Lot of best practices in terms of technology, newsroom guidelines, backend processing etc are already happening at Suvarna News.

Radio Indigo is a very interesting offering from Asianet News Group. It is a brand for fun young Indians. The age category of our avid listeners ranges from early 20s to late 30s. Our monthly listenership is around 23 lakh, and by far, we are the No 1 radio channel in English music. Soon we will be launching digital offering for Radio Indigo.


On regional newspapers and growth of digital

Last 12 months have been really good for Kannada Prabha daily. Print industry was not growing at a breath-taking phase, but Kannada Prabha grew significantly. The corporate and the retail clients still love print media. The recent turmoil in Karnataka due to instability in the government has impacted the business as the government is not releasing advertisements.

Digital is the future, and if we look globally, international media houses are moving towards digital. Asianet News Group is placed very uniquely because of our brand legacy. We are taking it to the next level with the help of digital media. Kannada Prabha’s core DNA and its standard of journalism will remain intact. But medium of consumption will move to digital and that is going to give us an advantage on standalone digital brands. Being a conventional media house, we have cracked the business model. The business and journalism model are coming from conventional media. The tech product, sales and distribution are bringing the aggression of start-ups. We have best of both worlds.

Future belongs to media brands that will be able to successfully pivot to the digital business.

We believe AI is going to be extremely important for the future of advertisement technology and that’s why we have started to invest very heavily in it. Customer engagement is increasing on the platforms.

We want to increase our Radio Indigo listenership. We want to convert our 2.3 million Radio Indigo listeners into daily active users on our digital platforms.


On festive season and revenue growth

Asianet News Group is transitioning from cyclic business to something which goes on for 12 months. Last year’s floods have affected the business. We are also trying to reduce the dependency factor on festivals like Onam. We will do extremely well during the Onam season.


On social media criticism

Asianet News is a brand that is loved by people. So, there is a strong emotional resonance. When brands don’t meet the expectations, the audience get disappointed. I don’t see it as negativity. I believe with love comes expectations and then comes disappointments. It moves and motivates us to strive for perfection.


Projections for 2019

The management and the entire team are aggressive. We will beat the industry at least by 2X or 3X. For example, for the digital media, the industry growth rate is 30% YOY. But we will be seeing more than 100% YOY growth.


In the television segment, we will have a revenue growth of 20%. We will continue to beat the industry standards.


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