Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Fortune Magazine on MTV's India Venture

Fortune Magazine has written an interesting piece on MTV's India venture, which began in 1991 before many companies had taken the risk to do business in South Asia. It is an interesting read, and really quite interesting to see how successful MTV's brand has become globally.

To read the full article, you are going to have to purchase the magazine or click here. Here is an excerpt:

Seen from afar—say, from the executive suites atop Viacom's building in Times Square or NBC's Rockefeller Center headquarters or Disney's base camp in Burbank—India looks like a great place to be in the television business. More than one billion people live in India, and while most remain poor, the middle class is expanding rapidly. The economy grew by 8% last year; advertising grew faster. Consumers are getting their first credit cards and buying mobile phones, motor scooters, CD players, and of course TV sets. What's more, unlike China, where the central government tightly controls television and print, India enjoys a robust democracy, a boisterous press, and a vibrant film and music industry. So it's no surprise that every one of the global entertainment giants, whose businesses are maturing in the U.S. and in Western Europe, have journeyed to India—and to the rest of Asia—in search of growth.

What they have found upon arrival is a media landscape unlike any other—as noisy, chaotic, overcrowded, and impossible to navigate, at least for a stranger, as the streets of Mumbai, the nation's entertainment capital. Here the past, present, and future live side by side: Shiny new Mercedes swerve around the three-wheeled taxis powered by motorcycle engines and known as autorickshaws, whose drivers honk impatiently at men pulling ancient wooden carts piled high with mangoes and bananas. Roadside billboards advertise reality TV shows (The Search for India's Smartest Kid) and cable networks (cricket coverage on ESPN). You can almost see money being made. But each time my taxi stops at a traffic light, scrawny children cluster at the windows, tapping on the glass and pointing at their mouths, begging for money to buy something to eat.

I've come to Mumbai to see MTV India. Why MTV? Two reasons: first, because MTV has been doing business here since 1991, before most of its competitors arrived; second, because MTV has done better than any other global TV network—better than CNN or anything owned by Rupert Murdoch—at spreading its brand and programs into every nook and cranny of the globe. MTV Networks, a division of Viacom, operates 72 international channels, including versions of Nickelodeon and VH1, that reach 321 million homes in Europe, Asia, Latin America, Canada, and Australia, and generate nearly $1 billion in annual revenues from outside the U.S.

Click here to read the full article.


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