Big Entertainment has big plans for 2008-2009

The pieces are surely falling into places to complete the jigsaw puzzle. It’s over the next 1-2 years that you will realise the grand media blueprint of Anil Ambani’s.

“Many of the pieces that we have been working on for the last two years (like Zapak, BigAdda, Bigflicks, and Big 92.7FM) are now connecting together,” reveals Rajesh Sawhney, CEO, Reliance Big Entertainment. He adds that the next three years will be significant for bringing about the revolution that ‘Big’ has planned.

So, what does this vision entail? In the first place, it’s about focusing on three areas – movies, radio and internet. The second plank is to enter areas that have potential, but are either in unorganised hands or have just taken off. The third foundation is to grow locally, and later make noises globally. The fourth is to be prepared for a convergent India, bound to happen soon. In effect, Big Entertainment may emerge as the next News Corp, with Anil Ambani as the Rupert Murdoch in waiting.

Let us first take a look at the way in which the Indian media industry is likely to grow in the near future. By 2011, it is poised to touch the magical figure of Rs 1 trillion with a CAGR of 18% (as per the 2007 FICCI-PWC report). Even if he manages to capture about 10-15 % of the total potential, Sawhney can create a global-sized conglomerate. Big Entertainment has a vertical presence from multiplexes and exhibition spaces to processing, content creation, animation studio, to visual effects.

As Nikhil Vora, Media Analyst, SSKI India, points out, “With better realisations, reduced leakages and multiple revenue streams, the Indian film industry may register 17% CAGR over 2006-10.”

“We believe it will outgrow GDP and opportunities will not only be in Bollywood but also in regional cinema and animation,” explains Sawhney. But different tactics are being employed in each arena. The animation model is not outsourcing-led, but IT-centric. The plan is for the company to make 6-7 movies targeting the Indian audience over the next three years and also look at opportunities internationally. In addition, they are also keenly eyeing the home video market, which currently, constitutes about 6-7% of the total movie pie. And if you look at Hollywood, it comprises the single largest revenue source (30-35%) of any movie.

On the broadcasting side, Sawhney hopes to participate in the next round of radio bidding and more than double the number of stations to 100. “I believe radio is a huge growth opportunity and this has been vindicated in the acceptance of this medium by listeners and advertisers in 2007.” Another area to watch out for is the Internet. What has happened in mobile in the last five years will be witnessed in broadband.

Reliance Entertainment has applied to the ministry of information and broadcasting to launch 20 news and non-news television channels. Reliance is looking to launch five general entertainment channels and five movie channels as well as music, lifestyle and news channels.

Names for each individual channel are being worked out by the company. The Hindi movie channel is likely to be first off the block, around July. Reliance Entertainment plans to feature well-known and popular Bollywood movies on this channel.

Concludes a leading media analyst, “Big Entertainment is scaling up very aggressively. They are thronging every segment of the Indian media space. Trust me, there is much more to look forward to in 2008.”

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