In 2-3 years, TV will contribute 15-18% to BCCL revenue: M.K. Anand

Anand, CEO and MD at Times Network, speaks about the company's strategy behind the new real estate channel and revenue targets

On the sidelines of the launch on Wednesday of a new television channel on property called Magicbricks Now, M.K. Anand, chief executive and managing director at Times Network, said that the broadcasting company currently contributes 10% to its parent Bennett, Coleman and Co. Ltd’s (BCCL) revenues. With the launch, Magicbricks Now will add to Times Network’s current portfolio of two news channels Times Now and ET Now and film channels Romedy Now and Movies Now. Anand spoke about the company’s strategy behind the new real estate channel and revenue targets. Edited excerpts:

Why did you launch a real estate channel when the news broadcasting industry is suffering losses owing to a flawed business model?

All news channels are not bleeding. Yes, news channels could do better business. But we are profitable. TV18, NDTV, Aajtak, ABP News and India TV—they are all profitable businesses. Times Now and ET Now’s combined newsroom is capable of producing another channel. The key is integration. Since we are already in the area of business reporting and we have the right names and right attention, we should be able to use that to go into another area which is also sort of business. Ultimately real estate is another form of investment.

From the Times Group what we bring in is the advertiser network, 40% of total real estate advertising in India is going to the Times Group. I’m talking of the print side. So anyway we have a good relationship with real estate as an industry through print. Besides we are the only media group in the last 20 years to have specialist products for real estate. So the print side has Times Property and for the web we have magicbricks.com for the last 10-12 years and now we have the channel.

How much does Times Network contribute to overall revenues at the Times Group?

We would be at about 10% of overall BCCL’s (Bennett, Coleman & Company Limited) revenues right now. In about 2-3 years, it should be about 15-18%. When I came in one and a half years ago, the contribution would have been about 7%. I came in February 2014 and the number that we closed in March, 2014 for 12 months is our target for the next six months from October to March, 2016. So in two years, we have practically doubled. Television news contributes about 55-60% to the network.

We have had substantial growth driven by distribution. We have doubled our collection from the ground. Our reach must have tripled because we were operating with 325 head-ends (operators) across only the one million plus mainly metro focused regions. Now we are at 1725 head-ends, very quickly pushing into rural. If you look at the latest BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) numbers both Times Now and ET Now have good numbers in rural which is not what English news channels have done.

Secondly our movies piece has performed really well. We went from number four to number one with Movies Now.

How do you think the television business will play out going forward given the rapid growth in digital media?

I think television which is screen based 5 feet-10 feet viewing (distance from the screen or TV room viewing), is going to remain as the single central most important media consumption device.

Now television could become VOD (video on demand) instead of linear channels. We are committed to serving this top-end of the audience. When I look at it as a joint piece (Times Now, ET Now, Movies Now, Romedy Now and MN+) I realize we have a viewership of 1.8 crore which is more than the combined (English) readership of all the big Indian newspapers including the Times of India put together.

We believe that not just from an ad sales point of view but also from a significance, importance and influence viewpoint we can move things more as compared to print media companies. We believe we will be able to drive a 25-26% CAGR at least over three years from last year.

What are your revenue estimates for the future?

We have the potential as a network to cross 1,000 crore, annually.

HT Media Ltd which publishes Mint competes with Bennett, Coleman and Co. Ltd which own Times Network.

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