One of the oldest names in TV production and broadcasting business, Sri Adhikari Brothers (SAB Group) has seen many ups and downs over the years. Today, with the restructuring of its business in three different listed companies, the group is poised to unlock shareholder value and ride on the growth wave. In conversation with Chandni Mathur, SAB Group vice-chairman and MD Markand Adhikari shares the growth strategies of the group. Excerpts:
Take us through the recent restructuring of the business.
The restructuring is linked to de-merging of the businesses in separate entities. SAB Group has now merged all its five existing channels into TV Vision. SAB Events & Governance Now (SAB Events) comprises the publication and events related to it, while Sri Adhikari Brothers Television Network (SABTNL) will continue to concentrate on TV content production, movie
production and distribution business. We decided to put the businesses under one umbrella of SAB Group and to give an identity we will be changing the logo of the company, and each channel, around Dussehra.
What are the growth targets for TV Vision?
We are launching a new channel in the North-East titled Se7en on Diwali. It will be an English music channel, and we will also promote local music talent from the seven North-Eastern states. In addition, we will also launch a comedy-centric Hindi general entertainment channel (GEC) Happii by year-end, making TV Vision a seven-channel bouquet. We are working on two more regional channels which we will announce next year.
Do you see enough opportunities in the GEC genre?
We aim to create a niche instead of competing with the other GECs in the space. This is a time when there is so much clutter that creating differentiation will help. We will launch Happii as an FTA (free-to-air) service initially and take a call on going ‘pay’ depending on how digitisation progresses and if monetisation opportunities increase.
TV Vision also houses your digital business. How do you intend to boost your digital play?
There are four verticals in our digital play. Happii is the linear channel, Happii Fii is the digital channel for which we are creating content, Happii G is for on-ground events in the comedy space and the fourth vertical is Happii Me for which we will create content for mobile devices in the media dark areas. We are also in talks to acquire a Multi Channel Network (MCN) and are in discussions with three-four companies. We should be ready to announce the deal by 2017. We want to go big on digital as that is the future for all businesses.
What sort of investments will be required to grow each of these businesses and how do you plan to fund it?
We are investing around R400-500 crore in the next two-three years in all of the different media verticals of the group. We plan to cover this through internal accruals initially. We do have equity option, but we will talk about that at the right time. We are looking at a mixed bag of equity, debt and internal accruals.
At a time when film studios are in a bad shape, what gives you confidence to stay put?
We are going very cautiously in this business and are not aggressive to acquire films for distribution at a higher price. We are not in a mad race, we want to progress steadily in this space as we consider it a strong arm of media. We are looking at co-productions as a model currently, but we will produce one or two films on our own.