Launch of new channels and portfolio expansion can spiral growth to 20- 30%: Ashit Kukian, Times Network

Ashit Kukian, President Revenue, Times Network, tells us more on the show ‘Luxury Time’, its target audience, luxury as a category, network’s current growth YOY strategy and mainstream revenue

e4m by Madhuwanti Saha
Updated: Aug 29, 2016 8:05 AM
Launch of new channels and portfolio expansion can spiral growth to 20- 30%: Ashit Kukian, Times Network

After luxury gained popularity in BCCL’s print vertical, Times Network felt the timing is right to launch a similar offering in television platform. ‘Luxury Time’, a one-of-its kind show on luxury was launched on August 27 and is being aired on weekend primetime slots on its key network channels including ET Now, Times Now, Magicbricks Now, Romedy Now HD and SD and MN+. It promises to showcase luxury in the true sense -- luxurious living, aspirational brands, gourmet cuisines, exotic destinations and the likes.

The debut season will comprise of 12 episodes of 30 minutes each and will span across categories like travel, lifestyle, personal care, accessories, fashion, gourmet, gadgets and premium stationery. The show promises to showcase luxury in the true sense – luxurious living, aspirational brands, gourmet cuisines, exotic destinations and the likes.

Each episode will feature industry stalwarts and celebrities offering their take on the latest luxury trends across the categories. These include Bulgari CEO, Jean-Christophe Babin, Maharaja Gajendra Singh of The Ummaid Bhavan Palace, Jodhpur; jewelry designer Nirav Modi; fashion designer Raghavendra Singh Rathore and Gauri Devidayal, Partner – The Table amongst many others.

Ashit Kukian, President Revenue, Times Network, tells us more on the show, its target audience, luxury as a category, network’s current growth YOY strategy, and its mainstream revenue…


Why the need for a show like this? Who is the show catering to?

Luxury industry in India is a fast growing industry with an average growth rate of 15% to 20%. Being the strongest in the English language space, reaching to 67% of the English speaking audience, Times Network attracts the leisured and privileged class of the HNIs. This makes the network and the show, ‘Luxury Time’ the best platform for luxury industry to connect with its target audience and offer viewers unique experiences within the world of luxury.

From a television perspective, we had to provide the same platform as print. It is clearly positioned to cater to HNI individuals who have high propensity to spend in world class products, whether it’s travel, beauty. That’s the genesis of our strategy to come up with ‘Luxury Time’ much like how we started the luxury vertical in the print version of BCCL. There’s no other platform that talks to this audience from television perspective. We have the access to the best in the industry.

It is expected that in 2020, the average age of an Indian will be 29 years, which reflects that the spending power of this population will continue to grow and they will be spending over 40% of their monthly income on some of the world’s largest luxury brands. And keeping the same in mind, the timing for launching the show now was most appropriate to reach millennials who are ready for exclusive experiences. Luxury Time will showcase forward-thinking ideas in luxury travel, business, culture, fashion, food and technology.

Why haven’t you considered Movies Now for this offering?

In entertainment we have whole lot of channels like MN+ and MN2. Right now we want to consolidate ourselves with these channels where we could do justice to this product. With these five channels, we are able to cater to enough from a reach perspective. The company strategy is to go with these five channels, get traction and see if there’s any interaction that requires more channels. Today, we are a 10-channel network. But from a year from now, we are a 14-15 channel network. So the choice of channel will also be dependent on how we want to play around with FPC of each of those channels.

From what it looks like the show has elements that can compete with the likes of TLC channel. What’s your take on that?

We are creating a market for itself. We are completely focused towards audience that’s looking at luxury from a product or a brand perspective whether it’s in the travel or food space. TLC mostly has international content. Ours is a product created for India as a market. It is understanding the Indian consumers, their needs and then customizing what they want. So while the subject may be the same the treatment will be different from our end.

Who are the sponsors that have come on board? Are you looking at branded content?

We have not taken any brand on board so far. When you launch something of this kind with a presenting sponsor there are lot of ifs and buts. Brand association brings in lot of influencing. So we wanted to keep away from that and didn’t start with a presenting sponsor. To begin with, we went with the content strategy and wanted the audience and advertisers to sample the pilot. Once they know the quality we will become aggressive on our advertising. The intent is to create the category from content perspective. Once the content is created and we are able to segment ourselves advertising will follow. We will be targeting premium brands across various segments.

Of course, we are looking at branded content because that offers great advertising opportunities to the clients.

What’s the current growth strategy?

When M K Anand came here two years back, he wanted to double the revenues in about three years. We are very much on track on that. Our benchmark is we want to get far more growth than what the industry is getting. We would rather be the growth propellers for the industry and lead the English channel revenue in this country.

As we go forward and with our understanding of the English market, there may be certain pockets we might want to invest more irrespective of whether there is an advertisement requirement or not. Also we want to be the torchbearers of taking English and making it the most important and relevant part as far as the Indian viewer is concerned. This will thereby enable and empower the viewer with English as a language and make them far more powerful than what they are, in terms of ability to do things and get things done.

Since your joining what changes have you brought in?

When I joined in, we were selling individually each of our channels. Since April 2016, we have started a network strategy where we package the channels together and give a consolidated rate to the advertisers which has a higher reach as well as a better product visibility and great pricing.  It’s basically telling the advertisers is that when you take the entire network, you are getting a homogenous set of audiences across the various segments that the audience is going to. (So for news, there’s Times Now, business ET Now and entertainment there’s MN+, Movies Now and Romedy Now.) In that sense we have started segmenting ourselves.

So this strategy is working well for us because advertisers are seeing the value of bundling channels of Times Network together and getting a greater value out of it.

So what have been the quarter results like?

We will be almost double of what the industry growth is which is around 11-12 %. So bundling has contributed and we have been able to correctly value ourselves in terms of our own pricing.

What are your mainstreams of revenue and in future what other streams are you looking at?

As any other organization we have our FCT of advertising, the entire branded content (that has an on ground element to it) and IPs like ‘Amazing Indian’ which is driven by and for the channel Times Now. So it’s a combination of FCTs, IPs and branded content.

For future we have already started aligning ourselves digitally. We have launched Times Now app, Magic Bricks Now website. The Times Now website was launched 12 days back. Over there we have really picked up a lot and looking at revenues immediately. Once the numbers have set in we should look at digital to drive in the results.

From advertising perspective how much growth are you expecting YOY?

The current YOY growth of the industry is parked anywhere between 12-15%. On a conservative note, we would be happy to be more than 5-6 % of where the industry growth is. As we grow consistently over the period of time the base also would become much bigger. Hence, even 2% or 3% growth becomes substantial. Also the launch of new channels and expansion of our portfolio can take the growth to 20-25% or even 30%.

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