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The New Rules

What a new world order means for Indian media companies, and why Zee’s decision to explore international partners is timely

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For companies that are living in a global world, readying for a future filled with unpredictable changes means many rules of the old school have changed. One of these is the significance, or lack thereof, of ownership. This holds particular relevance in the con¬text of Zee Group’s recent announce¬ment of divesting half of the 41 per cent stake the promoters have in the company.

In a digital economy, ownership matters less and less. One may argue if this is true for the media industry as well, given the importance placed on the likes of IPRs. However, with the pace at which digital is disrupting business models across industries, it is apparent shareholding is becoming a remnant of old times.

Another aspect to this develop¬ment at Zee pertains directly to the media business itself in India. Unlike most of its international counterparts, India is a happy place on that front. The dynamics of the Indian marketplace have undergone tectonic changes. For the next few years, all media in India will grow. True, the range of growth among different media has widened, but India is one of the few countries that can say all its media will grow.

People writing the eulogies for TV are making grave mistakes. Propelled by technological advancement and digital, at least 250-300 million new users will get added to the current 750 million TV users in India. The digital ‘pureplay’ will see even more acute changes — some that we cannot even predict right now. Mobile consumption is another game changer.

What all this also means is that the media company of the future will need a diverse range of skill sets. As organizations gear up to face newer challenges, the role of talent will become pivotal.

Zee is a global media conglomerate born in India. When you are in that environment, global learning, a wider and deeper sense of international play and distribution can lift the game exponentially.

Zee’s decision to explore a partner is a logical next step in unlocking the value it has created over the years. When a part¬ner — national or international — who has similar views as you, joins the team, it opens the gateway for many new initiatives.

In many ways, Zee has been ahead of times. It was a pioneer of satellite TV in India, was among the first to bring in direct-to-home (DTH) and to go multi-genre ca¬tering to different kinds of audi¬ence groups in India. It is a trend-setter that did not just adapt to the onslaught of global players but thrived in it. More importantly, it has performed consistently well for more than a decade, proving that it has the pulse of the consumer right.

Its recent efforts in digital such as Zee5 or the expansion of the net¬work are signals of the continued efforts the group is making to go where the consumer is. And above all this, it wields the power of con¬tent. If there is one aspect that makes the next steps of this announcement worth watching out for, it is around the content play.

Companies — technology players and telecom companies included — have understood the crucial role content is playing in future growth strategies. Why else are billions of dollars being spent in acquir¬ing broadcast rights? Why else are telecom and tech companies eyeing media companies itself?

The only way to attract and hold on to consumer’s attention in the future is with compelling content presented in the right medium in the best possible way. Content is among Zee’s big¬gest strengths. As global suitors reflect more on this massive opportunity that has opened up in India, and irrespective of which way the deal goes, Zee has once again understood the rules of a new world order, and is readying for the changes that come with it.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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magazine 10 November 2018 zeel zee media

Ashish Bhasin

The author is Chairman & CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network South Asia

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