Dial K for Money. Not H, Stupid!

The Business Standard reported on Aug 20 that media baron Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation is planning to launch 6 Indian language channels, including one in Kannada. The company is going to invest $100 million in starting these television channels within a year. That's not all buddy, even Reliance is entering the Karnataka market with a Kannada movie channel.

So what's up with the Murdochs and the Ambanis? Why are they defocusing from Hindi which the world was once made to think of as the only language in India? Why are they focusing on languages such as Kannada instead? What happened to the champions of the old-school teaching that India = Hindi? The answer is a straightforward one: people have finally realized the fact that India is a multilingual market. Big conglomerates are pumping in huge money into India's multilingual markets purely based on the simple fact that advertising revenue from non-Hindi channels outweighs that from Hindi channels by far.

The doomsayers are wrong.

Time and again, pure business decisions (not emotional ones) are proving the doomsayers wrong. They were proven wrong when claims that Kannada movies can't spin money and are just fit for the front-benchers went for a toss and Kannada movies started making tens of crores of rupees and creating world records. The final nails into the coffin of the doomsayers were struck when the myth that Kannada Radio in Bengaluru has no takers was busted, and busted badly. The radio episode even put a full stop to media bullshit which once claimed that Kannadigas are a minority in Bengaluru.

A truely untapped business potential

Until now, businessmen were under the false impression that if they want to make money out of television ad revenue, the default language of choice is Hindi. Even for advertisers, Hindi was unduly and falsely marketed as the sole language, marketing in which will guarantee a return on investment. Although late, they have realized the business potential of tapping India's multilingual market.

The Kannada television ad market is estimated to be worth Rs. 200 crore and the battle for grabbing a bigger pie of this sum is hotting up with lots of new entrants on the scene. People now see sense in jettisoning old-school adherence to Hindi. Says Ashish Kaul, executive vice-president, Essel Group, the parent of the Zee network of channels:
It's all about keeping viewers within your broadcast family. Whether the viewer wants sport, news, entertainment or content in her mother tongue, she should get all she wants within your umbrella and shouldn't feel the need to look out.
It is imperative for businessmen to understand and monetize socio-cultural and socio-linguistic factors in any soceity. The strong interleaving of language with the culture of a society makes success in a market crucially dependent on how well businesses understand and align with cultural and linguistic roots of the market. And yes, the Murdochs and Ambanis of the corporate world have understood it better than anyone else! Murdoch probably knew this from day 1, but Ambani (because of decades of Hindi imposition) probably needed investment experience outside India to understand the true India and its multilingual peoples.

Kannada means business

In the last couple of years alone,
large corporations which have entered the television, radio & print media have felt the strong need to hire Kannadigas who are not just extremely talented, but also are well-versed in Kannada and understand the pulse of the local market. Businessmen have to fully understand the importance of Kannada in the Karnataka market and give up the utter stupid practice of airing hindi ads on Kannada media. They must understand that it is Kannada and only Kannada which can bring rich returns to their investement in ad space. There is no other go. The old-school is dead.


Anonymous said...

hmmm..so non-kanndiga folk are coming to exploit us..why cant any kannadiga business house are starting media channels for us. Rupert Murdoch is coming up with a Kannada channel is nothing but the fact that Hindi segment is already saturated and they are looking other areas. Don't be so naive. its all about business man...It will be very difficult for them to start a hindi channel as that area is saturated so want to explore non-hindi segment.

Kishore said...

Nice insight into the current happenings in the local market & advertising media..
As the saying goes..
"Advertising will follow audiences"
Leave alone the Hindi Advertising markets revenue (which may be in billions), the advertising market for Hindi newspapers in Delhi alone is pegged at Rs 400 crore.

Coming to local market, I can see Zee Kannada fighing for the pie we are talking about - estimated around Rs. 3billion revenue from the advertising market each year. Zee on its second anniversary had shot a show in Dubai for the Kannada audience.. involving Darshan, Raghavendra Rajkumar, Diganth, Anu Prabhakar, Neetu and many others. “Shooting a show (Kannada Kaustaba)abroad on the scale that we have, and that too a star studded one, is a first for any Kannada channel.

So clear indication of local market set to skyrocket its growth potentials. Now Kannada is not just a classical language but it means Business in all right sense.

Anonymous said...

Although your point that hindi market is saturated is true to some extent, it's not true a large extent. America has 400+ channels while Hindi has close to 100? America has 28 crore population while Hindi population is around 40 crores. So hindi channel space is not saturated.
Read the business standard link provided, it clearly says, it is the ad revenue from non-hindi channels that is luring them and not bcoz hindi is saturated.

Anonymous said...

Anamadheya, U can not compare US market with Hindi market as not all Hindi populatiuon can afford DTH or cable tv. Most of them, i will assume 50%, still look upto DD for entertainment. Star already have 3-4 Hindi channels (not sure about the number)and some of them compete with each other. Anyway, the fact that 50-60% of indian don't speak Hindi so naturally there is equally big market for non-hindi. But the non-hindi market is so fragmented that for better return of investment they first try to get into hindi market and then explore non-hindi market. Anyway its welcome change into the mindset of media houses..hope they start pumping money into kannada movies the way they do for Hindi/Tamil/Telugu movies.

Anonymous said...

If we say yes to kannada movie, kannada ads, kannada channels and not compromise, then investment will start flowing in to these industries.

Anonymous said...

The cheap, filthy bullshit called Bollywood (financed primarily by terrorists, underworld dons and other criminals) has done irrepairable damage to the national film industries of India, except the Tamil and Telugu film industries. Bollywood bullshit has no takers in TN, not just because people don't speak the regional language (Hindi/Hindustani/Roman Urdu, whatever) in which Bollywood movies are made but also because Bollywood movies are third-grade crap! The Telugu film industry too is very strong and makes great movies when compared to the regional film industry (Bollywood) that is strongly influenced by the terrorists who were involved in the serial bomb blasts of Mumbai. The Malayalam movie industry produces some of the best movies in India, just like the Bengali movie industry.

Movies made in the national languages Marathi, Gujarati and Punjabi are almost dead now because many people in those states (with a few notable exceptions like the broad-minded Rajsaheb Thackeray) lack cultural pride and are eager to lap up the bullshit of the "Bambaee" underworld. I find it extremely ridiculous that many people believe that Bollywood cinema is Indian cinema. Forget Indian cinema, Bollywood does not even represent Hindi cinema! At best, the bullshit from Bollywood can represent the mafia dons, terrorists, gangsters, thugs and other disgusting criminals in the "Bambaee" underworld.

I hope Kannadigas don't abandon beautiful movies made in the national language Kannada for the cheap, plagiarised crap called Bollywood.

Anonymous said...

Awesome Article Guys - Love it!

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