Bennett, Coleman & Company Limited (BCCL) has tied up with media professional, Yogesh Radhakrishnan for a joint venture called Media Network & Distribution (India) Limited (MNDIL).
The joint venture will launch an independent distribution platform, Prime Connect, which will organise and distribute channels in India through various platforms, including MSOs, DTH, IPTV and other emerging digital platforms, across homes and commercial establishments.
Speaking on the new initiative, Vineet Jain, managing director, BCCL, says, "India is the fastest growing cable and satellite market, with demonstrable growth potential for the distribution services industry. Distribution has played a significant role in shaping the success of Times Television Network's four channels. This fact contributed to the idea of creating Prime Connect."
He adds that with this joint venture, BCCL has expanded its presence in the television space beyond broadcasting, into distribution services. Prime Connect can now seamlessly enable other television channels to expand their reach and their revenues as well, resulting in enhanced financial performance.
Radhakrishnan will be in charge of the operations of Prime Connect, as managing director and CEO, MNDIL. Says he, "India is a very dynamic and young television market. It has the third largest number of C&S subscribers in the world. Opportunities for growth are abundant. However, we need to harness our resources to reach our maximum growth potential. One of the biggest problems of the industry is the lack of a platform for independent broadcasters, which results in fewer independent ventures. The carriage market, especially, is in a chaotic state at the moment and is a great impediment for successful launches."
What do media companies gain from their distribution arms?
According to Navin Khemka, senior vice-president, ZenithOptimedia, the game of distribution is about money and gaining market share. Since, many more channels are expected to be launched in the future, if a company can control access to these channels, it can control the financial part of the game as well.
A senior media observer says, "By taking control of the distribution, a company is actually trying to control the cost of carriage, as today, distribution is one of the factors that lead to an increase in cost of operations."
Akash Chawla, marketing head, Zee TV, explains that for a broadcaster, the placement of the channel is one of the most important aspects of the business. "The whole idea behind having access to distribution is penetration in a market and monitoring it. For example, all the channels from Zee Network are very well distributed by Zee Turner."