It is not in our DNA to lobby around cricket bodies for broadcast rights: Subhash Chandra

By Anirban Roy Choudhury, afaqs!, Mumbai | May 03, 2017
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Subhash Chandra

Subhash Chandra

Chairman, Zee and Essel Group

Dr. Subhash Chandra Show (DSC Show), a motivational youth show hosted by the chairman, Zee and Essel Group, Chandra himself, will be returning to television screens from May 6, 2017 with new episodes that highlight inspirational stories of people from different backgrounds.

After shooting in New Delhi, the next episodes of the DSC Show were shot today at a media education institution in Mumbai. We caught the chairman on the sidelines of the DSC Show shoot and he spoke about various aspects of M&E and his show...

Edited Excerpts

What motivates you to do the Subhash Chandra Show? Can you define the target audience...

I do the show to motivate youth to do something that they believe in. In the show, we speak to the youth present about various topics. One of them, which we are speaking about here today with the students of Whistling Woods International is, 'Job Creators VS Job Seekers' or in other words, MBA versus Entrepreneurs. We speak to the youth and the institution we go to and together we decide the topic. This year, we have made a few changes to the format. I won't be the only motivator, there will be others in the show too. I will be sharing my experiences...

Well, when it comes to the target audience, while we speak to only youth, 60 percent of our television viewership is people over 40 years old. So I believe the parents are also getting motivated by the show...

Why do you think it is important to encourage the young lot towards entrepreneurship today? What advice will you leave for them?

We are a population of 1.25 billion. If we are left with only job seekers we will be in a place of trouble. We need to create jobs and entrepreneurship is the only solution to that.

My take on entrepreneurship is that if you want to make money from it, you will fail. Instead if you identify a problem and come up with an idea to solve it, you will succeed and that to me is true entrepreneurship.

When you look at your own business and how ZEEL is shaping up, what is your take on that?

Puneet Goenka is the right person to speak on ZEEL and the vision. But when it comes to me, my advice or mandate to them is, stay ahead of the curve and do not fear to experiment. Zee today, is a 60-70 thousand crore (Rs.) company, it is a successful company, but if its gets complacent today, people will come from behind and run past Zee and we will stand still and watch. To experiment is the only way to avoid complacency...

You just said Zee should stay ahead of the curve... What is the curve according to Subhash Chandra?

There are two definitions of staying ahead of the curve according to me. One, you have to understand the changing consumers and cater to their need and taste. You cannot be lagging behind when the consumer has already moved miles ahead. Instead, you being in the broadcast business should be ahead of time and that is staying ahead of the curve.

You should make content which others end up copying is my second definition of staying ahead of the curve. There are many channels today which have started copying our concepts like the DSC Show...

You mentioned channels... if we take the example of the Demonetisation coverage, Zee news showed that people are happy and unaffected. On the other hand, we saw on another channel, serious broadcast of plight. Same central movement, two different interpretations. Is it because news is getting more and more TRP driven?

Unfortunately, that is exactly what is happening... everybody wants to radicalize and sensationalise. They want to broadcast something which will either make you (viewer) a very very happy person or portray a doom's day. The mentality is that only then will people sample the channel and as a result, channels are motivated to come up with various interpretations of what is happening, which is actually the news. The actual news is the same thing and one truth which cannot have various interpretations, it is the interpretations which are diverse. This is what it is and there is not much you can do about it...

OTT is considered to be the next big thing in the media and entertainment space. What is your observation when it comes to monetisation of OTT? Who do you think will survive in the long run?

Good quality content can only be maintained in the digital space if it is paid for by somebody. Advertisers today, are not ready to pay and hence you have to use the other option. OTT platforms cannot survive a longer term without monetising content. The other thing that is important at this stage (in the digital space) is experimentation which can only come from deeper pockets. Let us consider that Zee's profit is around Rs. 3000 crore. Now if we set aside 5 percent of that for experimentation on content, it is a big money. An individual content creator does not have this luxury. Without experimentation and creating new content, survival is extremely difficult in the digital space.

You in your book, "Z factor", wrote about your love for sports broadcasting and cricket and drew light on the fights that you took on against several administrators including late Jagmohan Dalmiya to own the broadcast rights of sporting events. Last year, the first year when Ten Sports made profits, you sold it off to a rival broadcaster... what triggered this decision?

Firstly, it was a business decision taken by the company. The other thing is that it is not in our DNA to lobby around cricket bodies to own broadcast rights. Thirdly, while in GEC, you own the IP of the content you spend money to create, in Sports, the IP remains with the boards and so it does not make business sense. Also, in India, if you want to do a sports broadcast business, you have to have Indian cricket and only then does it make business sense. So all those aspects resulted in us taking the business decision.

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