How M&E CEOs are embracing digital growth

13 Dec,2012


After years of uncertainty and caution in the digital world, CEOs are now more optimistic than ever about the digital future, notes leading consulting firm Ernst & Young. “This was the primary theme that emerged from our 2012 CEO study, in which 34 CEOs from leading global media and entertainment companies shared their views on how the industry will benefit from the digital future.The CEOs we interviewed represent leading global companies with combined annual revenues exceeding US $300 billion.”


Five industry captains from India were among the 34 interviewed. These being: Messrs Ravi Dhariwal, CEO-Publishing, Bennett Coleman & Co Ltd; Sudhir Agarwal, MD, DB Corp; Sanjay Gupta, CEO and Wholetime Director, Jagran;  Tony D’Silva,  Group CEO, Sun Network (now with the Hindujas) and Punit Goenka, MD and CEO, Zee.


Excerpts from the report:


Four key actions from CEOs

1. Focus on the customer.

“The world’s greatest company will have the customer at the center.” “Having a direct relationship with the consumer will translate into new revenue stability and growth.” “Companies understanding and concentrating on the consumer’s need will do better than those that concentrate inwards.”


2. Create differentiated content.

“First, second and third things will be the creative success of our brands and studios.” “Being able to navigate the waters with compelling, cost-efficient movies that people have to see.” “Strong content delivered in exciting ways.”


3. Deliver a seamless experience to the customer across all devices, platforms and geographies.

“We are looking to be with the customer all day with tablet, iPhone(R), online and IPTV.” “Providing seamless delivery of all content on a global basis.”


4. Recruit and retain the right people. They will be the ones who will drive success.

“Digital reduces the number of levels of hierarchy, allowing the CEO to interfere in debates that are not necessarily his.”

“Our company needs to become more horizontal and less vertical.” “I want my people and teams to (1) be well-grounded, (2) be competitive with a desire to win, and (3) take responsibility and be decisive.”


Courtesy: Ernst & Young Media and Entertainment practice (


The 34 media and entertainment CEOs interviewed for Ernst & Young’s 2012 CEO study are optimistic about the opportunities in today’s digital world. They see digital as key to their revenue and margin growth. It is their present and their future. This contrasts with E&Y’s 2008 study, which showed that CEOs were more tentative about digital’s potential.


However, every path has its risks. In addition to sharing their insights into the opportunities digital offers, CEOs also admit they face challenges.


Getting the consumer to pay fair value and developing their “digital muscles” across the front, middle and backoffice continue to be key focus areas for media and entertainment companies.


And yet, CEOs are meeting these challenges head-on and are regaining control of the reins of their future long-term growth. In today’s rapidly changing digital marketplace, CEOs remain undeterred about the role digital will play in their companies’ future


Summary of key points

CEOs are optimistic about digital. They are no longer tentative about digital. They see opportunities for growth in both revenues and margins.


Connected technologies drive growth and create transformative digital ecosystems. This growth is being driven by connected technologies that are, in turn, creating transformative ecosystems.


CEOs are thoughtful about where to invest. CEOs currently see new distribution methods and new types of content as the most attractive investments. CEOs see these investments as central to setting them apart from their competition.


Exploiting digital opportunities comes with challenges. CEOs are working to make sure customers pay a fair price for content, and they are building the competencies in their back, middle and front office to maximize their advantage in a digital world.


Digital drives double-digit growth

Today, CEOs see digital as a core part of their business, as well as a key driver of growth. As one respondent commented: “everything we do is digital.”


Definitions of what constitutes digital can vary by subsector and even by companies within a sub-sector. With this caveat, CEOs were asked what impact digital would have on their own company’s revenues and margins over the next three years. Sixty-four percent of study participants expect digital to drive revenue growth of 10% or more. Forty-eight percent of CEOs also expect margins to increase by 10% or more in the same time frame.


This compares to the 2008 study, where CEOs were more focused on protecting their traditional business than pursuing digital opportunities. One respondent worried that “digital media may not be as economically attractive as old media.” Another suggested that “media is trading analog dollars for digital dimes.” For many, digital media was still viewed as a new frontier – a place only for gamblers willing to take a chance on the unknown.


Intuitively, there is a prevailing belief that digital margins should be higher because media and entertainment companies no longer have the cost of physical distribution. In the short-term, investments required in infrastructure to enable digital will tend to drive margins lower. However, that is only in the short-term. Once companies have the required digital infrastructure in place, we expect their margins will rise.


Tablets and smartphones are driving growth

So what is driving this double-digit growth in digital revenue and this foundational shift in consumption? When CEOs were asked which technologies they see having the greatest impact on their individual sectors, 79% suggest tablets, 62% say smartphones. The impact these devices have on the consumer experience is obvious to each of us in our daily lives.


These devices are supported by the technology that respondents see as having the third biggest impact on the media and entertainment industry in the next three years: cloud hosting services and digital lockers.


When CEOs were last surveyed in 2008, consumer tablets were not even on the market, cloud computing was a niche product and smartphones were focused on email and texting as opposed to video and apps. Today, more digital content across more platforms and available on more devices has created new and significant monetization opportunities for media and entertainment companies.



CEOs have a clear vision of a digital world

When CEOs survey the future, they see the opportunities that digital media presents. Whether it is B2C or B2B, the direct relationship that applications, ecosystems and technologies enable is fundamental to their vision. It is about the ability to drive an outstanding consumer experience by offering differentiated content on an array of platforms and devices, anytime, anywhere.


Their success will depend on how quickly they can optimize their back, middle and front offices to overcome challenges they face – getting consumers to pay fair value, managing content and optimizing their supply chains.


It will also depend on their people. It will depend on having the right people with the right skills to win in a fast-paced, ever-evolving digital landscape.


Once a gambler’s enterprise, CEOs today see digital as necessary for future long-term growth. Undeterred by their challenges, CEOs are optimistic and they have greater confidence their companies can take full advantage of the opportunities that exist in today’s digital world.


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