For Turner India, it’ s all about being future-ready. And as figures coming out of India such as 1.5 million downloads of the Ben 10 ‘ Battle of Omnitrix’ mobile game and 700,000 online game plays of Chhota Bheem indicate, that future is surely in the digital space.
Turner has a newly inked deal with Hungama Digital for mobile content, and upcoming launches such as Boomerang to be launched on Mobile TV (by early 2011) and Cartoon Network gaming channels to be made available on DTH operators in India. Siddharth Jain (Vice President and Deputy General Manager - Distribution & Business Operations, South Asia, Turner India) and Troy Lobo (Director of Wireless, Interactive Content Development and Distribution for South Asia, Turner India) shared why it’ s critical to get onto digital platforms now.
How important is getting onto digital platforms for Turner?
Siddharth Jain: Four or five years ago, the traditional method of consumption was the television. So if you wanted to watch a programme, you came back home, and watched television at a point of time – so it was appointment viewing. Then came the computer, and people started moving off the living room and to the study or the desk or the workplace. Today, the patterns have changed dramatically. You have devices which are wireless: you could be watching on broadband sitting at home, you could be connecting with a Tata Photon card sitting at the airport, you could be using an iPhone or BlackBerry to communicate and watch content. What’ s clear is that the consumer wants to consume content that he likes at a time that he wants and a device that he chooses. The company’ s philosophy of being available “ anytime, anywhere” meant we are forward looking, we embrace technology and we would repurpose our content to make sure that the consumer gets 360-degree availability.
So while analog and DTH (or what we call traditional business) will be the bread and butter for some time, the new businesses that are coming - such as broadband, games, ringtones, wallpapers, caller tunes – are the emerging sub verticals within the new fields. There is a gestation period which is a little longer while going into these fields and the hockey stick effect comes later.
For Turner India, the split in the pie is currently 95:5 for the traditional business and new business, but what’ s happening is even this year over last year, the actual value has grown by 15%, and next year, we’ re looking at almost 30% growth. So the hockey stick isn’ t that far.
What’ s happening is that technology is throwing up new challenges every day: there’ s high definition, 3D and interactive television. And we’ re looking at that and getting ready for that.
What is the way to get onto all these platforms?
Troy Lobo: We work with various partners across a host of verticals. Hungama is one of the leading mobile content aggregators in the country. Essentially, they’ re going to deliver our content to mobile operators which is the largest opportunity today. We’ re looking to power our content through the internet which is Hungama.com, and third party stores; then there’ s the powering of the mobile section on cartoonnetworkindia.com, going to OEMs like Nokia, and memory card chip manufacturers. Audiences are consuming differently and it’ s important for us to be there.
Trouble is that 3G and Wimax is coming, so it’ s important for us with these technology changes to keep looking at partners who have strengths in different areas.
Siddharth Jain: We do have challenges, but we’ ve managed to find the right partners. Earlier we were dependent on our global suppliers, and there was too much time lost. Ben 10 is popular now and I want to encash on it now, versus waiting two years for it. Hence we decided to locally produce it and time-to-market, which is the most critical factor, has shortened dramatically.
Could you share some of the digital initiatives you’ve undertaken recently?
Siddharth Jain: Essentially Cartoon Network, CNN and Pogo are what we have the rights for for pushing the product.
There are no boundaries today; it’ s about how innovative you are and where do we see our opportunities. It may not make business sense from day one, because there is no instant monetisation, but it is about popularising the brand, and extending it onto non- traditional methods of reaching out.
On Tata Sky, we’ ve launched MAD as part of their Actve services: where each step comes in the form of a slide-by-slide presentation and it becomes a teaching experience. We’ ve just recently launched Cartoon Network + which is a brand extension again, that is a looped VOD where Ben 10 plays one day and Powerpuff Girls the next day for a two- hour block.