Vikram Chandra, CEO of NDTV Networks, began his talk at FICCI Frames with an often repeated statement that Old Media will not suffer at the hands of New Media – TV, Radio and Newspapers will not shut down. However, he added that traditional media companies are increasingly becoming conscious that they have to embrace the Internet and mobile devices. “These are mainstream. This is not a small adjunct to the main business – it’s the future. I think old media companies are starting to change, and when they start to change, there is going to be a challenge that old media is going to throw to pure net companies. That’s because we have a massive advantage – we can harness the reach and migrate communities to the Internet, and then further migrate those communities to the mobile – that kind of triple play will be difficult to beat. We are increasingly beginning to see how one can build a community around television program – CNN, NDTV, BBC…all do it.”
Chandra gave examples of content that has work for NDTV in the past – the Jessica Lal and the Save the Tiger campaigns. “We found that these campaigns took on a massive strategic life of their own once we started harnessing the Internet and the mobile. With Web 2.0 and the mobile, you can ask for comments, blogs, SMSs – you make the viewer a participant, get them involved. Gadget Guru had maximum engagement when I said I hate my phone, and asked viewers to suggest a phone, on the website, via SMS. And it took on its life of its own with people criticising each others suggestions. Our Cricket site really took off when we asked people to comment on their own on Instaspeak, despite the spam comments. The issue in all of this is around revenues, which we’ll have to grapple with. Five years from now, which will be the largest company in NDTV Networks? I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a dot com. Where will the revenues come from? We’ll have to work on that, figure that out. Across the country, there is going to be a secular rise in spending on New Media.
The triple play that Chandra has suggested is essentially the Cross Media strategy that was among ContentSutra’s “trends to watch out for in 2008″. Traditional media already has a community, which they can leverage to build their online presence, and monetize with SMS’. But there’s more to it than just that – I think the reverse loop also needs to be in place – contribution in terms of time spent on a site, comments submitted and messages sent also needs to be highlighted on TV; that’ll create a sense of ownership and loyalty…and with the number of TV channels that are expected to be launched, that loyalty will command a premium.