Four name changes as well as some leadership changes in a decade have only served to strengthen BTVI. Megha Tata, Chief Operating Officer, BTVI tells us about overcoming the multiple challenges and achieving higher viewership share, while shedding light on the journey ahead

" /> Four name changes as well as some leadership changes in a decade have only served to strengthen BTVI. Megha Tata, Chief Operating Officer, BTVI tells us about overcoming the multiple challenges and achieving higher viewership share, while shedding light on the journey ahead

"/> Four name changes as well as some leadership changes in a decade have only served to strengthen BTVI. Megha Tata, Chief Operating Officer, BTVI tells us about overcoming the multiple challenges and achieving higher viewership share, while shedding light on the journey ahead

"> CHARTING A NEW COURSE FOR BTVI CHARTING A NEW COURSE FOR BTVI

CHARTING A NEW COURSE FOR BTVI

Four name changes as well as some leadership changes in a decade have only served to strengthen BTVI. Megha Tata, Chief Operating Officer, BTVI tells us about overcoming the multiple challenges and achieving higher viewership share, while shedding light on the journey ahead

09 Apr, 2018 by admin

Four name changes as well as some leadership changes in a decade have only served to strengthen BTVI. Megha Tata, Chief Operating Officer, BTVI tells us about overcoming the multiple challenges and achieving higher viewership share, while shedding light on the journey ahead

 

BY SIMRAN SABHERWAL

News was not a genre that Megha Tata, Chief Operating Officer, BTVI(Business Television India) says that she thought she “would ever fall prey to”. However, when Tata did come on board the business news channel, it was first as a consultant for three months - which extended to six months, to help the channel make the transition from Bloomberg TV India to BTVI. This was after Bloomberg decided not to renew its existing license with the Anil Ambani-owned Business Broadcast News. Post the transition, in August 2016, Tata resumed her current role and she says the journey has been an incredible learning experience, as the company has “turned around BTVI to a large extent”. She also claims that the channel has upped its viewership share from 2-3% to 15-20% in the last 18-19 months.
 

CHARTING THE COURSE

It wasn’t an easy proposition for Tata at BTVI, as there were multifold challenges and a lot of baggage to deal with. For starters, the channel which was launched in 2008 had undergone four name changes in a decade – starting off as UTVi, then becoming Bloomberg UTV, followed by Bloomberg TV and finally BTVI. Leadership changes also raised the question of stability.
 

In addition, though Tata had nearly 27 years of media experience, having earlier worked as part of the leadership team at Star, Turner and HBO across genres, she had never run a news business. A firm believer in team play, Tata says her agenda was “literally against all odds to get everyone to buy into the fact that we can do this together and turn this around if we put our minds and energies behind it.”
 

Among the first steps initiated was to get the right people on board and “refurbish the team”. While Siddharth Zarabi held fort as the Executive Editor of BTVI, Muralidhar Swaminathan was brought on board as the Channel Director to pump up the volume on the editorial content. On the corporate side, Anuj Katiyar was roped in as Marketing and Research Head. To increase the monetization on the ad-sales revenue front, the sales mandate which had been assigned to Helios Media was brought back in-house, and the sales team was beefed up with the appointment of Shilpa Shetty as Sales & Strategy Head – North , East and West and Seema Pisharody as Sales & Strategy Head – South.
 

Tata says these moves have paid rich dividends. “Setting up our own team has worked out well from a timing point of view. Our revenue growth has been very strong in the last one year and we have grown by 5x, despite the fact that we had a lot of catching up to do. We are on the right track; this year we have set a good target for ourselves and we will only grow now,” she remarked.
 

INSIGHTS AND QUALITATIVE RESEARCH

BTVI also invested into qualitative research to gain crucial insights into what the consumer wanted to watch. While Tata acknowledges that “there were frankly no surprises,” what the research did do was help structure and plan the content better. Says Tata, “The insight was that we needed to talk to our direct consumer. The way the viewer was expecting content to play out, versus what we were providing was not matching. It was a major jigsaw puzzle and by putting content into the right slots, we just made the puzzle fall into place.” She continues, “This has led to audience traction, coupled with phenomenal growth in the last few months. It’s a combination of the right set of people driving the right strategy, with a very clear focus and goal that has led to our progress.”
 

TACKLING COMPETITION

A humongous challenge facing BTVI as a standalone channel, is capturing eyeballs in a space that is dominated by two players, CNBC-TV18 and ET Now, who are part of large networks. Explaining how she tackled this challenge Tata says, “When I came on board, our average channel share was 2-3%. Now, you can sit and cry about it and say it’s not possible to do anything or you can try and find solutions such that even if you can’t reach the Everest summit, you can at least get to the base camp. That’s what we tried to do. The reality that we are not part of a big network and don’t have their muscle will always exist. However, we didn’t let it deter us. We made it work in some way, and today we are averaging at about 15-20% viewership share.” Tata also candidly admits that while the viewership share has increased, it’s still catch-up as far as revenues are concerned. She says, “Obviously the revenue share needs to grow much more, and this can’t happen overnight. You have to build it slowly but surely, and we are on the right path. We are trying to run a very tight ship. Your return on investment has to be much stronger, and you really don’t just plan your revenues, but your expenses as well. We are working against all odds and believe that we have a plan which can get us there.”

What has also changed is the advertiser’s perception. Overcoming the advertiser’s initial apprehensions, consistent growth in the last 18 months has ensured that they eventually came on-board. Some successful branded content initiatives were ‘The Journey’, presented by Hyundai India, and a six-part series called BTVI’s Big Drive - Drive Safe, Save Lives, sponsored by Mercedes Benz. The German luxury car maker also undertook an initiative on road safety in Delhi, wherein BTVI was a channel partner. Commenting on the ad rates she says, “Ad rates have grown by 50% but that’s very relative. It depends on the business proposition, as this genre is not as much rate-driven, as it is volume-driven. Thus, it all depends on the overall spend proposition we receive from a client.”
 

GROWING THE DIGITAL SPACE

Another area where BTVI has seen growth has been on the Digital platform. Tata claims that BTVI’s website has seen a significant increase in traction, even doubling its follower count on Twitter from 120,000 to 328,000. “The growth has all been organic and this is because people are conversing more and are finding meat in the content and the conversations and the news which is being put out by us.” Going forward for the Digital space, plans are afoot to introduce an app soon and the upgradation of the website is also on the cards. On a parting note she says, “We have a long way to go to get our content and numbers stronger in this game. Digital will play a big role in strengthening our numbers. The focus is to grow our business - both in terms of viewership, as well as revenue. Once that happens, there will be far more stability, which will allow us a chance to look at doing other things. However, right now the focus is to do more of the same, so that we are able to make our presence much stronger.” While BTVI has shown an impressive growth of 184% over the last year, it will be interesting to see how it maintains its momentum going ahead, and if the English business space which has so far been a predominantly two-horse race will become a three-way race, with BTVI just managing to sneak ahead.
 

@ FEEDBACK
simran.sabherwal@exchange4media.com

Feedback: Category: Spotlight Volume No: 14 Issue No: 44

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