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Profile - Prasana Krishnan: Variety is Fun

By Raushni Bhagia , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | October 09, 2013
A chemistry graduate with a management degree in finance from Delhi University, who started off as an investment analyst, got into a corporate strategy role, before settling for sports.

It is the unpredictability of his shifts that has kept the excitement going for this man. After all, he is a chemistry graduate with a management degree in finance from Delhi University, who started off as an investment analyst, got into a corporate strategy role, before settling for sports.

Prasana Krishnan

Looking back

Fresh out of university in 1996, Krishnan was picked up by The Economic Times as an analyst for its investment supplement, Investors' Guide. It was more of research-driven writing, than beat reporting. He adds, "My first byline was 'with inputs provided by' at the end."

Though he admits that he enjoyed writing, he wasn't sure of ever becoming a mainline reporter and getting into the 'breaking news' part of the business. As an analyst, he researched the energy and oil and gas sectors. Arthur Andersen, the consulting company was looking at hiring someone with research experience for their energy sector practice. Krishnan moved to Andersen in 1999.

Role changing

In 2002, he came back to The Times Group in a corporate strategy role, working closely with Vineet Jain. He recollects, "I was one of the junior-most people in the corporate set up, since all the executive members of the management were mostly ex-CEOs of big companies. But of course, learning from such senior guys was a great experience."

Times had corporate strategy discussions much before many people had thought about it, the company was an early mover in that area. During Krishnan's tenure (2002-2006) there, a lot of things happened, including the launch of a Bollywood channel, Zoom (2004), Radio Mirchi went public in early 2006, Indiatimes underwent a lot of expansion during that time, Mumbai Mirror was launched (2005) and TOI launched editions in newer markets.

The sport

In early 2006, Krishnan joined Nimbus Sports in Singapore in a business development role. "Nimbus was my first interaction with sports. It is one of the most open companies. I came in with little understanding of sports, but I gave my contribution and in turn, learnt a lot from others," he adds.

He recalls how things seemed to click when he met Digvijay Singh, CEO of Nimbus Sports and Harish Thawani. "There was some liking for each other and I believe they decided to give me a chance." He was also given a lot of freedom to take decisions.

After Nimbus Sports, he moved back to India to take care of Neo Sports, the broadcast business owned by Nimbus. Neo Sports was launched in late 2006 and he had been associated with some segments of Neo Sports, while at Nimbus. But Neo Sports was altogether a new part of the business, with a completely different set of challenges.

Newness factor

The broadcast industry in India has changed a lot in terms of the cost structure and regulatory outlook. Krishnan feels that sports has been an important rider of this change. "In 2006, when I entered this industry, IPL was yet to come into existence. Since then, we have seen the entry of new players, a massive increase in the number of sports channels and the dominance of the T20 format and IPL." But what about sports other than cricket?

"We are bullish on long-term prospects of basketball, though it's still early days for the sport in India. We are also bullish on the potential of fight sports and have made substantial investments in that segment. Tennis and football are showing good traction and Indian participation in badminton is helping a lot."

Krishnan intends to stick to sports for some time. "Variety is what has kept me really entertained. For instance, I should have been in investment banking after an MBA in finance. So the unpredictability is what has made it fun."

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