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Rajshri Media To Break Even By Year End Says Rajjat Barjatya; Rajshri.com Revamp, Mobile Portal, Syndication Business

Note: please download the audio file for the entire interview

Rajjat Barjatya, MD of Rajshri Media had told MediaNama.com that the company is likely to be in the black before the end of this calendar year. In the first part of this fairly candid and comprehensive interview, Barjatya talks about his role after Gurmeet Singh has joined as CEO (from Music Today), where the next level of growth for the company is going to come from, breaking even and how they are going to achieve it, plans to launch a Mobile Internet portal, downloads vs streaming, India vs International Markets, and more.

Note: Tomorrow we’ll publish Part 2 of this interview, focusing on Video Advertising and networks, Syndication business, Short Form vs Long Form content, Local Language Content, Traffic, Exclusivity of content, Differentiation in a crowded marketplace, Broadband Studio model and more.

Some excerpts from Part 1 (14 minutes):

Haven’t you’ve got higher margins on downloads – at around 70c cost, and $9.99 sales? Isn’t it in your interest to push downloads?
No. In case of downloads, there are two significant costs – one is the content payout, and in our case we would pay around 50 percent on an average, and the second cost is that of bandwidth. Downloads do have healthy margins, and so does ad-supported streaming.

But there would be inventory sale issues with ad-supported streaming, right?
In the beginning, for any platform which is ad-supported, there will be inventory issues.

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It appears to me is that Rajshri Media is not in the black…
It’s not in the black. It will be before this calendar year ends. We’re making all efforts to ensure that that happens.

What are you doing to make sure that happens?
We’re scaling up things at multiple levels – whether it is our content offering – a combination of content which we create, to content which we aggregate across multiple languages and multiple channels. We’re just in the process of converting a lot of Baba Ramdev content for which we have exclusive Web, Mobile and IPTV rights. Today that is available for download only. We will soon make that free streaming, and bump up our video streaming and advertising volumes. We will make Vivah available for free streaming.

We’re completely revamping Rajshri.com – both front end and back end. A lot of social networking and web 2.0 features are being integrated – from communities around content and celebrities to users being able to upload content on Rajshri.com, which will be moderated. We’ll add a lot of Bollywood news, gossip, new film promos etc. Till now we focused on long form, and I think with a lot of news element coming in – it is very sticky, and allows us to experiment with a lot of short form content. But this is all video content essentially. At multiple levels, steps are being taken to ensure that our monetization increases. We’ve seen a very healthy month-on-month growth in revenues from YouTube, for example. We’re now getting into syndication relationships with many other online video streaming portals…

Wouldn’t that be competing with Rajshri.com? Because you’re just distributing your own content, not redistributing content from other content partners…
Yes, we are.
Today less than 1 percent of the content on Rajshri.com is our own – that will explain the amount of content we have from other content partners, though not all of that content is available for sublicensing. We have around 1600 videos on the Rajshri YouTube channel, and that number is growing on a daily basis. We’ve just signed up with Joost, and will be signing up with MySpace very soon. I think we’re going to have a very strong syndication stream of revenue going forward. We’re also working with all mobile carriers, apart from BSNL and MTNL, and we’re seeing a very strong month on month growth in our telecom syndication revenues. I think it’s a combination of multiple revenue streams which is the future, and this is where Gurmeet comes in, to be able to drive each revenue stream.

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