Emerging Media: the IPL winner eyes other sectors

By Sangeeta Tanwar , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | June 04, 2008
Emerging Media is the company that owns the franchise for the IPL champions, the Rajasthan Royals. afaqs! finds out what the company has planned next

The Indian & #BANNER1 & # Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 tournament offered viewers a nail-biting finish, with the Rajasthan Royals scraping their way to victory against the Chennai Super Kings at the very last minute. Emerging Media, the franchise owner of the Rajasthan Royals, is now savouring the sweet taste of victory.

It comes as a surprise that a young, two year old organisation was able to prove its worth in a tournament that was all about huge money purses and loads of glamour.

Emerging Media is a UK based media company, which entered India in 2007 by acquiring what was then known as Investors In Cricket (IIC). IIC was founded in 2005 by Manoj Badale with the aim of creating and commercialising sports rights for the game of cricket. Once the IIC was acquired by Emerging Media, the scope and area of work were extended to developing and building various media properties.

Interestingly, Lachlan Keith Murdoch, the elder son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, is a minority investor in Emerging Media. Murdoch has made investments in Emerging Media through his company Illyria Pty Ltd (Australia). In 2007, Murdoch had also partnered with Percept Holdings to launched a 50:50 joint venture company called Percept Talent Management (PTM).

Raghu Iyer, chief marketing officer, Emerging Media, India, says, "In India, we are a young organisation that has made it big by owning the franchise for the Rajasthan Royals, which has excelled in the very first IPL Twenty20 tournament. With this feather in our cap, we hope to climb from strength to strength in all our future endeavours." Iyer moved to Emerging Media from Discovery Channel India, where he was sales head. He has vast experience in sales and marketing having worked with big names such as Sony and Zee.

Why is the organisation called Emerging Media when its business has nothing to do with media, but is similar to that of any other sports management or talent management company?

Iyer sets the record straight: "We truly believe that we are a media company. This is so because, as a media conglomerate, we have quite a few verticals under our name which relate directly to media and related fields. We have stakes in television software, digital media and sports management. We have also set our sights on establishing some intellectual media properties, one of them being Cricket Star, in India."

Cricket Star, Emerging Media's first big sports related media property in India, was a talent hunt show aired on Zee and Doordarshan in 2007. The show aimed to spot and promote budding cricketers from all over the country. Prominent Indian cricketers and Indian cricket officials zeroed in on probable prospects, who were then trained at a special cricket academy. The winner of the show, Sukhvir Singh, was awarded a contract with Leicestershire Country Club.

Raghu Iyer
Iyer says, "The IPL success has left our hands full with post operation work related to the tournament. Having said that, our immediate plans relate to deciding on a few foreign cricketing tours for the Rajasthan Royals. We are looking at exhibition matches across the world. Secondly, we are concentrating on promoting licensing and merchandising sports gear and other items belonging to the Rajasthan Royals outside the country."

Iyer reveals that a unique project involving Liverpool FC and the All India Football Federation (AIFF) is in the offing. The aim is to popularise and promote soccer. With the IPL as a success model, this venture too should set the cash register ringing, he says.

Though Emerging Media has tasted success with a sports based media property, it is in no mood to restrict itself to sports. Iyer says the organisation wishes to make it big as a content provider to the 350 or so channels currently operating in India. In Iyer's words, "Emerging Media wants to be another Endemol, when it comes to providing quality content for Indian productions."

What is Emerging Media's source of revenue? Iyer explains, "Our source of funding is through private equity. An important thing is to understand the process that we follow in conducting our operations. Once we have an idea or format in place for any sort of media property, we look out for sponsors. They are the people putting their money into our projects. Apart from that, we also work closely with broadcasters to zero in on a suitable platform to telecast the show and negotiate sales deals with them. Once the sponsors and broadcaster is in place, we source out tasks such as events and ground activities to other players."

Iyer reveals that Emerging Media has a small team of 10-12 people in India. On the management team are Manoj Badale, executive chairman, and Ranjit Barthakur, non-executive chairman. Fraser Castellino, chief executive officer, divides his time between India and the UK.

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