In late 2009, Digital TV Russia, the commercial arm of Russia Television and Radio (VGTRK) launched My Planet, its first flagship channel. DTR now produces and distributes 21 pay TV brands in kids, factual entertainment, movies, sports and general entertainment genres.
Recently DTR launched The Living Planet Channel which is growing fast in terms of viewership and distribution and produces compelling and unique content featuring Russian wildlife.
VGTRK is one of Russia’s leading media corporations and public broadcaster since 1990. After its 25 years long stint in Russia, now VGTRK is all set to expand to global pay TV market through DTR.
Dmitry Mednikov, Deputy CEO, Chief Development Officer, Russia Television and Radio, Chairman of the Board, Digital Television Russia discussed their expansions plans for the Indian market exclusively with India Media Book.
Where does India fit into Digital Television Russia’s scheme of things?
India was our major focus from the very beginning. We are very optimistic about our investments in India as we see Indian government’s efforts in making India a global entertainment superpower.
India economy is on a strong footing, recent budget announcement together with policy reforms makes us strongly believe into the country’s stable long-term growth potential. We are here to launch and build meaningful business in partnership with India’s programmers, content producers’, distribution platforms. Our key principle is to invest into local content production, state-of-the-art technologies and to develop local talents.
India is the land of many languages: do you see it as an opportunity or a hurdle?
We see a lot of similarities between Russia and India. Russia is a home to 100+ ethnic groups and cultures. In our nature, we are a local programmer, 80 per cent of our channels programming is based on local production and local formats. Muult in Russia is unique in the world as 100 per cent of its pre-school animation is based on national content. This is the only way to align with our customers. And this is our ultimate goal in India – we are here to build local channels rather than distributing foreign channels.
Definitely, it will take time to build sufficient library, but we are looking for partners who will share our philosophy to create content for local people in local languages and to embrace local culture and to view the world from local point of view. So, many cultures and many languages is a great opportunity for us.
What are some of the emerging trends that you foresee in the Indian industry?
We trust that Phase III and Phase IV digitization, enhanced local measurement systems will boost local content production to better cater tastes and expectations of people in India. Growth of middle class in India in the next decade will be tremendous – from 14 to 40+ per cent according to KPMG forecast. In Media and Entertainment industry shift from outsource creative service to full-scale content production with IP rights owned by Indian companies.
But for us major trend and expectations of Indian M&E industry lie in high potential of developing original characters, stories and talents from India which will be very successful on global stage. India is a very ancient civilization which gave birth to many contemporary nations, thoughts, religions and cultures. This is where Indian creative industry will definitely be very strong globally. Respect to various ethnical cultures, ideas and points of view despite its economic or physical power makes Russia and India very close by nature.
What is your strategy for the Indian market? Please throw light on Digital Television Russia’s plan for India market.
Currently we are meeting with many business leaders. All of our businesses will be launched in partnership with great companies in India. And we pursue the strategy where will re-invest revenues into local content production.
What are your expectations from Indian market? When can we expect Digital Television Russia to enter into Indian market?
We are meeting businesses and applying for licenses in accordance with local regulations. We are hiring local team. We plan to open our office in Q1, 2016.
As mentioned DTR International business has just started. In India we are looking forward to build meaningful business in areas such as local pay TV brands kids animation, smart entertainment, movies, sports, video content production, digital media, consumer products, theatrical distribution.
What are the key challenges that the company is facing in the Indian market?
We are an emerging market broadcaster. We know how to navigate various voids and for us India is rather an opportunity to apply our skills and knowledge. In this respect our major focus is to understand and to feel India, one of the most magnificent and mysterious country in the world. Our creative teams are inspired by the Indian culture, mythology, music, and mindset. We thrive to understand Indian people, and ready to invest our time and efforts into climbing this learning curve faster.
I am very impressed and touched by Indian creative people and teams and I look forward to this collaboration which aims to introduce Indian culture in Russia thereby introducing Russian culture to India. Russia is one of the largest global pay-TVmarket, and by far third largest one in Europe. Our goal is to help Indian content to build its share on the Russian market which will ultimately boost Indian creative production.
Which areas you will be targeting at initial stage?
At the very beginning we shall focus on the business strategy that we have in Russia which is based on 5 pillars as follow:
Long-term strategy of asset development.
Premium quality production of accessible TV channels, games, mobile applications.
Deep expertise in marketing of our brands and services.
Strong affiliate distribution business.
State-of-the art, proprietary market analytics.
We are very open to partnerships and alliances that will help us to create and shape video production ecosystem in this part of the world. We are confident that our skills and experience in developing great content, well connected with local audience, will be the key for us as we seek to grow our global businesses for the long term.