‘4G Launch will Usher in Ex­cit­ing Time for Dis­cov­ery in In­dia’

The Economic Times - - Business Of Brands -

Dis­cov­ery Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, the world’s largest non-fic­tion me­dia com­pany with rev­enues of $6.4 bil­lion, has com­pleted 20 years of op­er­a­tion in In­dia, one of its top mar­kets where it runs 11 chan­nels. Jean-Briac Per­rette, pres­i­dent of Dis­cov­ery Net­works In­ter­na­tional has set an am­bi­tious tar­get for In­dia and looks to lever­age the coun­try’s leapfrog into 4G for what he calls the new chap­ter for the broad­caster. Per­rette spoke to Gau­rav Laghate on his vision for the In­dian and in­ter­na­tional busi­nesses. Edited ex­cerpts:

How im­por­tant is In­dia for you? In­dia is a top growth pri­or­ity for us to have an even big­ger rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the mar­ket. So In­dia comes ahead of other BRIC coun­tries in your plan? When I took over this role 2 years ago, I looked at the in­ter­na­tional port­fo­lio and the big­gest mar­kets — In­dia, China, Brazil, and Rus­sia, the big four. We have a great pres­ence in most of these mar­kets, but right now, Brazil and Rus­sia are go­ing through dif­fi­cult times and China is com­pli­cated, so that leaves one mar­ket which ul­ti­mately we think is mas­sive op­por­tu­nity where we can do a lot more.

Is that why we are see­ing a change in the lead­er­ship here? Our Asia-Pa­cific busi­ness, as a per­cent­age of the to­tal busi­ness, was small. Now if you look at just the pop­u­la­tion and pure dy­nam­ics, we want this busi­ness to be in mul­ti­ples big­ger in the next 5 years than it is today. So we brought Arthur (Bast­ings, pres­i­dent, Dis­cov­ery Asia-Pa­cific) who was with us and helped trans­form our busi­ness in Europe and spent time in the mo­bile and dig­i­tal space. In­dia is known for leapfrog­ging tech­nol­ogy and mo­bile will be huge. Also, as we look at the In­dian mar­ket today we want to set a new chap­ter and we think this is a very ex­cit­ing and dy­namic time with the launch of 4G and mo­bile tech­nol­ogy... we want to reignite our strat­egy in the mar­ket.

So who is go­ing to head the In­dia busi­ness now? Have you iden­ti­fied the new leader? Cur­rently Arthur is help­ing the team and we are look­ing for a non-tra­di­tional per­son with more mo­bile and dig­i­tal ex­pe­ri­ence, than with just tra­di­tional tele­vi­sion.

What can we ex­pect from Dis­cov­ery in In­dia, in new gen­res and launches? The great thing about us as a com­pany is that we have a lot of am­bi­tion and we don’t have a rule to leave any­thing out. That said, we also are dis­ci­plined and try to be smart where we think we can make a dif­fer­ence and add value. We don’t just look­ing to spend hun­dreds of millions of dol­lars in In­dia like oth­ers have.

So will you be look­ing at ac­qui­si­tions and/ or joint ven­tures in In­dia? We are not rul­ing any­thing out but we will stay dis­ci­plined and smart about how we ap­proach it and we don’t have a one model that says it has to be this.

How prof­itable has In­dia been for you? It’s been in­cred­i­bly suc­cess­ful and prof­itable busi­ness for us. What we are hop­ing to do is in­vest­ing more. Do you see pos­si­bil­ity of your sports busi­ness, Eurosport, launch­ing in In­dia? I think as we look at In­dia and rest of Asia, sports cer­tainly is a cat­e­gory that we con­tinue to look at.

But In­dia is a very dif­fer­ent mar­ket when it comes to sports con­sid­er­ing high affin­ity to cricket and high ac­qui­si­tion cost. Do you still see value there? We have seen the dy­nam­ics, but look at Europe, we don’t play the high premium sports busi­ness. Cricket and IPL comes in top of that list here. The re­al­ity is, we play in what I call the spe­cial­ity or pas­sion sports – ten­nis, cy­cling, win­ter sports etc. We have made a very suc­cess­ful busi­ness out of that. Just like there is not one In­dia, there is not one sport. We can play in lot of dif­fer­ent seg­ments.

COM­PANY PHOTO

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