NBC Universal Launches Digital Solutions Business In India; More Planned


logo-nbcuniversalNBC Universal has launched their digital solutions business in India: NBCU Digital Solutions (NBCUDS) is a newly created business within NBCU, which intends to provide publishers in India with the products and expertise that NBCU has previously deployed for their own digital businesses; as usage and traffic grows, sites built need to be built in a manner that they can scale to meet that demand. This is their first launch for NBCUDS outside the US market.

sab-kanaujia-nbcu-20090608Speaking to MediaNama, Sab Kanaujia, VP (Digital Product Strategy & Development) at NBC Universal, said that they’re in the process of building a team on the ground here that will provide day-to-day support to NDTV Convergence, as well as help with future engagements. NBCUDS had relaunched NDTV.com and its election website. No senior management has been hired yet, and Kanaujia will be spending a lot of time in India. At present, “all the accounting, finance, HR and legal help on our NDTV engagement is being provided by (parent company) GE.”

The company will also launch another new digital business in India: Kanaujia declined to share specifics, but said that we’ll hear something over the next four weeks. Kanaujia also declined to talk about sharing of content between NDTV and NBC Universal, saying that he’d rather let Peter Smith, President, NBC Universal International, and Vikram Chandra, CEO, NDTV Networks, comment on it.

On Targets & Business Model
Kanaujia said that the company is currently focusing on markets where NBCU already has businesses: India is one such market, where they have an investment in NDTV Networks Plc. It’s a new P&L and they are broadly looking at two models: the first is based on a fee, and is  similar to what they’ve done with NDTV Convergence, where they’re acting as a service provider or consultant. The second model involves launching and managing the entire digital business on a revenue sharing arrangement.

They focus will be on large sized media companies in the television and print sectors first; India has a few big players, and a lot of small players, and “the small players may not have the scale and revenue to require our cutting edge solutions. So we’re going to focus on mid- to large-size targets. That’s the sweet spot for us. At FICCI Frames in Mumbai, I did speak to a lot of companies, and most companies in our target list expressed a lot of interest. Many are still trying to figure out digital. Some of them have to therefore get internal alignment with their teams on their strategic long-term plans before they can commit with us. ” On targets he said that if they can get half a dozen big clients, the first year would have been a success.

On Conflict on Interest Because Of NDTV Investment

We asked Kanaujia about whether NBCU’s investment in NDTV Networks Plc may serve as an impediment to the growth of the digital solutions business: won’t there be a conflict of interest? He feels that the competition among media companies is primarily on the basis of the content and the experience that is brought to the masses by media companies, and not the media management system at the back end.

NDTV.Com Relaunch; Legacy Issues; Integrated Newsroom?

“For the NDTV.com relaunch, we retooled the infrastructure backend,” Kanaujia said. They brought the content management system (CMS), the media management system, deploying Movable Type on NDTV.com. Future sites will also use the same. “With reference to legacy infrastructure, there are several legacy systems we have not touched yet. Many of these were built a long time back, and proper documentation is not available. We’re working with their team to prioritize and choose the right transition plan. We decided to first bring their flagship property (NDTV.com) to the latest platform, and then, in a phased manner, work on their other sites. There are over half a dozen other properties NDTV Convergence (NDTVC) is looking to re-launch. Timing and prioritization is obviously being decided by NDTVC.”

On Integrated Newsrooms, Kanaujia said that integration of traditional operations with multi-platform digital media delivery is a much bigger problem, involving integrating the digital platform all the way to the broadcasting operations. This is not in the scope of their current engagement with NDTV. For the Beijing Olympics, the company wanted things to content to show up on the digital properties as soon as possible, and they had created an end to end production and publishing infrastructure. It’s not just about speed, but also cost efficiency.