‘Our content strategy is driven by partnerships, not acquisitions’

Rashmi Pratap Mumbai | Updated on July 29, 2018


Wynk CEO explains how good content helps retain telecom customers

With smartphones doubling up as entertainment devices, Bharti Airtel is going all out to ensure its customers remain glued to the mobile screen. BusinessLine caught up with Sameer Batra, CEO of Airtel’s Wynk Ltd, to understand what the operator is doing to boost customer stickiness. Excerpts:

Why is content gaining importance in ensuring customer stickiness?

A couple of changes have happened in the ecosystem. One is data is far more affordable and that should increase the elasticity of consumption. A lot more smartphones are proliferating the market. And 4G networks have expanded rapidly. So, the environment is very conducive for content. If you are able to engage people deeply with more digital services from the same brand, chances of stickiness are dramatically impacted. We are seeing a strong correlation between content and the ability to stick to an existing service provider.

What is Airtel doing to improve its content offerings?

We are forging a lot of partnerships, both audio and video. We have about 4 million songs on audio and they come from good partnerships with both national and regional labels. On the video side, we have partnerships with broadcasters and content catalogues such as Eros, ALTBalaji, Zee and SonyLiv.

How will Airtel differentiate itself? Will you look at original content creation?

One way is to start creating content for our platform. But we are staying away from that because we feel it is more important to solve the personalisation issue — how can we curate and throw up recommendations on what you should be watching depending on who you are as a consumer. The second way is to go deeper. We are creating a lot of regional partnerships.

There are a lot of regional players who have not found a platform to market or distribute their content. We are tying up with them.

Is acquiring stakes in content companies also on the agenda?

It is something we fundamentally don’t believe in. Our model has been partnership and we don’t want to control the value chain. Our philosophy has been partnering — be it for IT or networks — and we are clear about what we are good at. We are good at understanding customers, technology, distribution and marketing.

And then there are people who have a good understanding of what content can sell, what format it should be — whether it should be scripted, whether it shoudl be fiction or non-fiction.

If we can find a common ground to work on and add to each other’s business objectives, it is the way to go.

What if some content companies forge exclusive tie-ups with another operator, leaving out Airtel?

Content companies need scale, too, and nobody can commit to working with only one player. You would want an international audience and partner with an operator whose customers can pay for content. We have good, high value customers and given that we were early entrants in the market, the ability of our customers to pay will be higher than others.

The market right now is building up. We would prefer to make sure that we have a stable platform and give personalised experiences and do this at a massive scale.

We want to get sharper about customer segments and needs. Right now, it is critical to make sure that customers fall in love with digital consumption vs live TV.

Published on July 29, 2018

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