Prannoy Roy-led NDTV group has pulled out its three channels, NDTV 24x7, NDTV India and NDTV Profit from the sales partnership with STAR India. The deal, established in March 2011, gave STAR India the mandate to handle advertising sales for the three channels of the group. The fourth channel of the group, NDTV Lifestyle, is handled by Aidem Ventures.
Merely 18 months into the deal, the two broadcasters have taken a strategic decision to transfer the sales and marketing function back to NDTV. The STAR sales team that was engaged for the NDTV channels will be transferred to NDTV.
However, the two broadcasters will be in strategic co-ordination on cross-platform sales and marketing of NDTV channels. In an official communiqué, Roy, executive co-chairperson, NDTV, says, "Working together with STAR has been a great experience. We have developed a close professional relationship and plan to retain close ties at a strategic level."
Uday Shankar, chief executive officer, STAR India and Kevin Vaz, executive vice-president, ad sales, STAR India, have worked very closely with NDTV. This relationship will continue at a strategic level, as per the official statement by the NDTV group. However, as always planned, NDTV will take its sales and marketing destiny into its own hands and the transition process has already begun. This will ensure close integration with a number of fresh initiatives to be launched by the group soon.
"STAR and NDTV (and Prannoy and I) share a deep relationship. It was always meant to be a short-term arrangement to enable NDTV to make a successful transition. Now that the team is ready and NDTV wishes to take charge of its own destiny, we are happy to pass on the baton and wish this great brand continued success," says Shankar.
For the record, as a part of the deal, in addition to frontline sales, STAR India was also responsible for commercial back-office management such as traffic, scheduling, billing and collections as well.
Interestingly, at the time of the NDTV-STAR deal, STAR India already had a 26:74 venture, Media Content and Communications Services (MCCS) with the ABP Group, under which three news channels were operational - STAR News, STAR Ananda and STAR Majha.
ABP, however, was not very happy when STAR India entered into an ad sales alliance with rival broadcaster NDTV for its three news channels. Even though STAR has always maintained that its NDTV alliance is restricted to sales and has nothing to do with editorial content, many have pointed out a conflict of interest. ABP thus finally bought out STAR's 26 per cent stake in the venture, to manage the show on its own since April, 2012.