In an exclusive conversation with Noor Fathima Warsia, Steve Marcopoto, SVP & MD Entertainment Networks, Turner Broadcasting System Asia Pacific explains the organisation’s thought process, as it realigns its structure in the region.
Turner Broadcasting System Asia Pacific (TBSAP), a key player in the broadcasting space in India and in the Asia Pacific region for over two decades, is gearing for the next phase of growth in the region. One of the first steps the company took in that direction, was to revisit its structure and align it to “reflect the growth of the company’s operations” into various markets. In the realignment, Turner Broadcasting divided its operations in three pockets - North Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia/Pacific.
Following this, Siddharth Jain has assumed management of South Asia, which includes India, as SVP & MD. Monica Tata, as VP & GM Networks, will now manage all of Turner’s entertainment networks in India with the assistance of dedicated business heads and she reports to Jain.
Sunny Saha becomes the SVP & MD Entertainment Networks, TBSAP, and takes on expanded responsibilities on strategic planning across the company, while continuing to oversee the functions in Hong Kong that support TBSAP’s new sub-regional operations. While he remains TBSAP’s lead executive for all activities on global properties such as Cartoon Network, he will also directly manage the company’s entertainment networks in Southeast Asia/Pacific.
Anshuman Misra was appointed the SVP & MD of Networks and Content Distribution (NCD) Asia-Pacific, taking on full responsibility for Turner’s content sales business across the region. He has also been given the responsibility for syndication sales.
The Region-Driven Approach
The first impression one gets about Turner’s new structure is of decentralisation. However, Steve Marcopoto, President and MD TBSAP, is quick to point out that the breakup of the region into these markets is being future ready. “Turner has been operating in this region for more than 20 years, and had followed the same fundamental operating structure that was very pan-regional but has evolved to much more sub-regional and local operations. We are gearing up for the next 10 years of growth. The new approach is blended between regional folks in Hong Kong and local heads in the sub-regions and it is rebalancing of management resources, not decentralisation,” Marcopoto says.
With India contributing to revenues significantly, Marcopoto is clear on his expectations ahead from the India market, where he is looking at the India team turning top-line revenues into bottom-line profits.
Challenges Ahead for India
Marcopoto stresses on the focus on increasing the operating margins of the company. He explains, “The kids channel business is doing well and has growth possibilities, the English movies business is more modest and Imagine is in a turnaround mode. Combine this with the other growth possibilities and you have the recipe for what we are going to be targeting in the near future. The fundamental challenge is to increase our operating margins.”
Will the new structure allow Turner to lay enough focus on individual brands as well, especially brands like Imagine, which have high stakes in the Hindi general entertainment space? Marcopoto replies that the structure brings the best of both region-wise and brand-wise focus. He observes, “There is global programming expertise, standards and practices and much more local application for each individual network. Majority of our channels, depending on whether they are global channels like Cartoon Network to very local like Imagine TV, the composition changes in terms of the amount of global content that comes in versus local. Continuously taking the best of what we are doing globally, and also creating more Indian content.”
A key challenge for Turner is creating local content that clicks with the Indian audience. Marcopoto acknowledges that the requirement there is good quality production and creative. A key step Turner had taken in this direction was the appointment of Vivek Bahl as CCO for the entertainment networks. Here again, it is a blended matrix deployment of Turner’s resources.
Three Verticals in S Asia
In India, Turner has also articulated its philosophy of categorising its entertainment channels into three distinct business verticals – Hindi General Entertainment (Imagine TV), Kids (Cartoon Network & POGO) & English Movie (HBO & WB).
Talking about the new structure, Jain said, “Taking a cue from the principle of driving focus and to make the most of the opportunities that our market offers locally, we have realigned our resources in India to find the best talent for each leadership position.”
Elaborating on this Marcopoto says, “With Siddharth running the entire operation, Monica under him running the networks with functional heads reporting in including programming, marketing, this again helps in the local running of the business and rebalancing our resources.”
In a nutshell, Turner’s way forward is about focus on the core regional production on Imagine TV, and as Marcopoto “couldn’t be happier” with the recent appointments in the company. “For our GE business, Vivek Bahl is a proven veteran and top calibre player and we are looking at supporting him with all of our resources. The realignment will help growth in this region and specifically in a market like India.”