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Astro ups stake, FoodFood plans regional channels

MUMBAI: Malaysia-based Astro Overseas Limited has raised its stake in Turmeric Vision to 55.1 per cent, indicating that it has confidence in the joint venture company’s future prospects.

Astro hiked its stake by 5  per cent as it infused fresh capital to fund FoodFood channel’s growth in the fiscal ended 31 March 2014. The company has so far pumped in $30 million.

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor“Astro has increased its stake by 5 per cent. We are growing the business and last fiscal has been good,” founder-promoter and celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor told TelevisionPost.com.

Turmeric Vision, which owns and operates FoodFood channel, is a joint venture between Kapoor, Astro and Sandeep Goyal’s Mogae Consultants. While Astro holds 55.1 per cent stake, Mogae Consultants has 4.5 per cent stake. The remaining is with Kapoor.

FoodFood is planning to launch in regional languages. Tamil is the most likely prospect as the size of the market makes it an attractive business proposition. Telugu could be the other language FoodFood could launch in.

“Our intent is to launch FoodFood in Tamil first. Telugu is another possibility. We have to decide when we are going to do it. Expanding the reach of the brand is part of our growth strategy,” said Kapoor.

Turmeric Vision is looking at an additional investment of $10 million. While part of it will be consumed for foraying into the regional language space, there are also plans to develop ground events, licensing and merchandising and selling of products and services through e-commerce, retail and through partners.

“We have never thought of ourselves as a TV company. We wanted to start with TV as it is a high-impact category. But we are first a food and food-related brand. We look at TV as a point of sale. The way we would surround the brand is through multiple activities like products and services, L&M and ground events. In an ideal situation, TV would account for 25 per cent of our revenues in the next five years,” Kapoor said.

Kapoor expects the company to break-even in FY17. In the fiscal ended 31 March 2014, Turmeric Vision narrowed its operating loss to Rs 10 crore (Rs 100 million).

“In terms of power, strength and value, we can easily grow five-fold in the next 3–4 years. Our revenue will have multiplied three times by this period,” said Kapoor.

Kapoor is not happy with the way digitisation has progressed. “Carriage fees have not dropped for us. It is hurting our business terribly. Being a single-channel network, we find ourselves at the wrong end of the stick,” he said.

Kapoor has a word of caution for distribution platform operators such as the multi-system operators (MSOs) and the direct-to-home (DTH) service providers.

“They think that they will control content. Relevant content will continue to grow. Other platforms will come up and it will be at the cost of TV. These changes will come so fast and so sudden that they will not be able to react if they are not prepared from today. It is in a way similar to what malls did, asking for the highest money without caring to get in the best brands. Their attitude has given rise to Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon, businesses which did not exist earlier in India,” he said.

Kapoor is not happy with the way the industry is structured and run. “I am in multiple businesses. This is the least organised business, which is why the size of the media and entertainment industry is small. Even in the broadcasting sector, look at the talent pool for senior programming executives. Only a handful of them keep rotating from one network to another—which tells of the sad affairs we are in. Why is it happening in such a high-impact category? These are signs of a category that is growing in an immature way,” he summed up.

Read full interview with FoodFood founder-promoter and celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor tomorrow…