Integrated Network Solutions (INS), a part of Viacom18, commenced operations in March 2013. The business unit, which launched with live events (Live Viacom18) and a branded entertainment (BE Viacom18) verticals, has more recently launched Spotlight, a platform for brands to leverage celebrities. While Spotlight has started off with an online presence, it is expected to integrate with the live events in future.
While ceding that it is too early to put a figure to contribution from the unit, Jaideep Singh, SVP and business head, tells Campaign India that there has been a lot of action already. Edited excerpts:
How big is the Integrated Network Solutions (INS), and the team behind it at Viacom18? How do you see this growing?
We started setting up INS in September 2012 and actual operations started in March 2013. Since then, we’ve activated all three of our verticals - Live Viacom18 (events), BE Viacom18 (branded entertainment) and Spotlight.
Live Viacom18 is up and running with 11 large intellectual properties (IPs). We’ve been able to activate IPs in almost every genre that we deal in across our channels. Every channel has a large IP that has been specifically designed for it.
BE Viacom18 has been finding excitement around it since its initial stages. There are a couple of large partnerships that are in the conception stage right now, which have the Viacom18 network’s assets being utilised for launch.
We have forged 20 brand partnerships across Live and BE verticals. Spotlight is more for connect. We have that business getting launched (soft launched already).
These three verticals are about engagement through multi-dimensional, active properties. We’ll make sure that we keep finding opportunities to create great content for online, offline, on-ground and on-air platforms.
We’ve got about 40 people in the INS team. We’ve got a marketing team, creative innovations team and brand management team. These teams are constituted of brand managers, marketers, people from the creative fraternity and so on. The marketing team deals with how we go about building our properties over the years. We’ve got quite a large inventory with us across all three verticals so at this stage we are looking to consolidate those. By the end of this year, we may think of expansion. But as of now we’re a substantial team, sufficient enough to drive the plans we have.
How much does INS contribute to overall revenue?
It’ll be difficult to share the numbers here since it has just been a year.
Of that, how much does each unit within INS contribute?
Live contributes 60 to 65 per cent. BE Viacom18 would be about 25 per cent. And Spotlight would be around 20 per cent (in future).
How do you view Spotlight integrating with Live Viacom18?
Spotlight is about giving access to celebrities to voice their views, showcasing the content around them, showcase what they have to offer as personalities and having them engage with their fans. Live Viacom18 is about bringing in international artistes, giving opportunities to upcoming Indian and international artistes, to get their music and their message across.
Spotlight is a pipeline for conveying messages from people who will be on our properties and to disseminate its content, which potentially can also be converted into a revenue model. So, Live and Spotlight have the potential for a fantastic synergy.
What is the outlook for branded entertainment, in the context of the expected 10 + 2 ad cap?
This is the way forward whether at a global level or in India. A lot of brands are thinking on the lines of building IPs jointly with content creators, which is the stage we are in. The idea is to build properties and create good, engaging content then fit the brands which can be merged into that content space. The fit should be so precise that it works on the content perspective, the consumer’s perspective and the brand’s perspective. It’s a logical step as it has happened in developed markets.
Going forward, things will evolve, consumers will start paying more, the reach will increase and everybody has the right to get the right value for their money. The 10+2 ad cap will help bring the distribution revenues. Also, this will drive (co-)creation of lot of experiential properties which brands will want to do. This is a cycle which has already happened in a lot of markets outside India. Globally, brands started being part of creation of experiential properties and started investing in experiential properties so that it will allow them to move out from the television space if they want to, since there is always the internet potential which can be used. The ad cap and its effect will depend on how the broadcast fraternity looks at it and the steps that they take to work along with it.
How big is Spotlight expected to be? What are the areas in which Spotlight will operate?
Spotlight as of now is purely in the online or digital management of celebrities. It has potential to move into the Live space. In the future, Spotlight may have an extension but it is too early to say anything. Spotlight is about showing how celebrities and technology together can have a revenue model built around them.
Would a majority of the INS business be for Colors and MTV, which have India-centric programming?
We’ve worked on all our channels, the movie division, we’ve worked on the regional markets and launched new shows. So INS’ agenda is to work on all assets. We haven’t done much on Colors but moving forward we plan to work on it. There is a lot of potential.
This year is not about adding stuff, this year is about consolidating stuff. We have 11 IPs, which for a one year-old entity is a huge thing.
What is the scope for integration to amplify a broadcast IP across the network (seven channels) given that each channel has a distinct positioning and audience?
Amplification depends on the kind of IPs we are dealing with. If we're talking about festivals, then promotions are more about integration with specific shows and this applies to all channels in our network. In case of award shows, we have a larger presence by way of slot-airing. At the core of it, you need two kinds of support for integration and amplification - promotional and editorial (programming) support. In terms of award shows, it is all about slot-airing, which can go on quite a few channels.