We plan to enter newer markets with more titles

Written by Shaheen Mansuri | Updated: Sep 14 2010, 06:13am hrs
Nicholas Brett, deputy managing director and group editorial director of BBC Magazine, a division of BBC Worldwide, has been observing the growth in the Indian magazine industry closely. The division already has nine titles in the Indian market, ranging from travel, to home dcor to science and technology, but Brett is still looking for further expansion. In an interaction with FEs Shaheen Mansuri, Brett explains that the niche magazine market in India is under-served, and therefore, growth is inevitable. Excerpts:

You already have a presence in India through magazines like Lonely Planet and Top Gear, amongst other titles. Do you have plans to consolidate your presence in India

In India, our plans are much bigger. We are hoping to invest in the future here. I am delighted to say that we are almost half Indians this is the kind of mindset we have. We are trying to fully understand the nature of business here.

We are soon launching our magazine, Knowledge which is based on science, nature and history. Next year too, we are planning to enter newer markets with more titles. The last five years have witnessed rising consumption of niche magazines in India. The magazine industry is well poised to benefit from growing literacy rates, rising incomes and rapid urbanisation.

What are the triggers of growth in India

India is today what the UK was 15 years ago. The country is going through a transition with affluent young growing up. Lets face it that magazines promote brand spendings since advertisers target niche magazines to popularise their brands. Also, India, is the second fastest growing economy in the world. Indians are becoming more brand conscious, they are travelling more and have a high purchasing power. Niche magazines fit well into this kind of an environment. Sadly, some markets in the West are depressed and have observed a flat growth unlike India, where the sentiment is positive on the consumption habits in the segment. We are very optimistic on the growth opportunities here.

How do you view the policy framework for media in India

Well, all I can say is that the government policies are favourable and we are in India since 2004. We have never had any issues. In fact, in other markets, we have licensing deals. For instance, some of our products are licensed in Asian cities. A licensing deal is much like a one-off deal, which helps if you are in a country in a limited way.

What is the fundamental difference between operating in India and the UK

It is slightly disappointing that the magazine model is ad-reliant in India. In the UK, we have subscription revenues, and newsstand revenues driven by cover price.

For instance, our world class product like Top Gear have a cover price of Rs 100 in India.

Most of our magazines have a cover price of 3- 5 (around Rs 400) in the UK. Second, distribution is difficult in India. We have a presence in metro cities like Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi etc. I wish we had a wider distribution system in India.

But at the same time, I hope we can have a subscription model here. Different revenue models is the commercial difference between UK and India.

We want to reach out to more cities. But again no complaints here.