If you can put out a good product, start getting audience engagement and have brand salience, which wont be a problem for BloombergQuint, I think there is no reason why you won’t get a share of the Rs 500 crore revenue pie, said Raghav Bahl, Founder, Quintillion Media
Post his exit at Network18, Raghav Bahl transcended to the digital screen with Quintillion Media, sensing changing content consumption patterns. But when the opportunity of returning to the business news space came through a partnership with Bloomberg, Bahl took it up with gusto. In a tête-à-tête with BrandWagon’s Chandni Mathur, Raghav Bahl and Ritu Kapur of Quintillion Media spell out their TV plus digital strategy for all the ventures. Excerpts:
It has been just over a year since The Quint launched. What are the learnings from your tryst in digital?
Bahl: The audience is responding well to us and we see videos getting consumed quite dramatically on social media. Along with The Quint, our bespoke CMS digital publishing platform Quintype is making progress. But launching two start-ups together has been more challenging than we believed. Sometimes, we made more progress in content and less progress in publishing and vice-versa. I hope in the second year we will have more harmony between the two. We have learnt that video is clearly getting consumed more on digital screens, so we need to sharpen our video skills. We also need to do harder hitting, edgier news video documentaries. There is an audience for that as well. There is a need to figure out if the long form written article is the best way when one is trying to give a standard piece of news. We find listicles, FAQs, graphic representations and summaries very powerful and that is something we will focus on in the second year. The final learning is to use younger minds to lead editorial calls as they have a slightly different take on stories. If we take an angle that they would like to be addressed, the pieces do better because 70–80% of our audience is between 18–35 years.
Kapur: The learning and unlearning curve has been crazy, but it has been great because we are much closer to our audiences than we have ever been. We have done 25 years of TV and we discovered that video is a completely different vocabulary.
Do you see native, geo-targeted advertising as the driving force for dotcoms?
Bahl: With hand-held devices where screen sizes are small, neither is banner going to work nor is the 30 second audio visual playback, because people are not going to waste bandwidth on allowing those commercials to play. The easiest form of consumption is branded content given to users in the same way as other content. The nature of branded advertising, which is almost seamless to editorial content, is being dictated by the nature of the product.
Kapur: There is one set of clients that still believes in banners and desktops, so there is no escaping that. But what has been exciting for us is playing around with native advertising and content marketing, making sure that we are transparent about it and that the content is a value-add for the reader.
You earlier had plans to launch The Quint in Hindi. What is the progress?
Bahl: We have launched The Quint in Hindi; it is a beta site and has been stabilising for the last three to four months. It is now showing first signs of audience growth and you will see a full scale launch very soon. Around 80% of content is currently translated but we are beginning to produce 20%, and if translated back, it works well in English as well.
Kapur: We are also going to start looking at a bit of entertainment and not only news based content. Video is going to be an area of focus.
Did you see the Bloomberg partnership as your chance to get back to TV?
Bahl: It wasn’t a planned move. We were very happy to become completely digital first media products, and our vision was The Quint, The Quint in Hindi and Quintype. But when the Bloomberg opportunity came to us, we went ahead since business journalism is something I am personally very comfortable with and since I see the power of digital and TV together. Business is one such area where I believe both these platforms should work very closely together because the target audience seamlessly moves between the two. If this JV opportunity wouldn’t have come up, we would not have done this on our own.
What are the other opportunities that you see in the English business news space?
Bahl: The distribution costs have come down from what they were five years ago, so the market is maturing. Channels are beginning to get cable affiliate revenues so that is another positive. The advertising market has matured and today the ad market for business news channels would be between `400-500 crore. If you can put out a good product, start getting audience engagement and have brand salience, which won’t be a problem for BloombergQuint, I think there is no reason why you won’t get a share of this `500 crore revenue pie. Whether you get 25% or 40% depends on how well you create the content and market yourself. The revenue lines have matured and I am confident that in a couple of years’ time we should be firing really well.
By when do you expect to launch the channel and how are you designing the content?
Bahl: There is a regulatory process to be followed and we also have to build the studio facilities. I think the channel will launch sometime in the October to December quarter. The consumer is looking for a strong markets product and it has to make sense to the retail and the institutional viewer, so we need to strike that balance. I think they are looking for much greater insights into corporate stories, policy analysis and greater understanding on what the immediate future is going to play out like. We have to craft programming around this and get credible voices on air because they make all the difference. For us, the one extra layer will be managing the integration between TV and digital.
Kapur: We are looking at having a lot of expert voices and investigative content, in addition to markets information.