EXCLUSIVE: Tony Lit talks about VIEWASIA and MSM Asia

EXCLUSIVE: Tony Lit talks about VIEWASIA and MSM Asia
Tony Lit joined MSM Asia in December 2011

It۪s been five months for you at your new home Multi Screen Media Asia how has the journey been for you so far?

As expected it has been a very exciting time over the last few months. Coming from a predominantly radio background, there has been some things which were similar and then there were things in television which were new to me, and that۪s were I۪ve really enjoyed rolling my sleeves up and throwing myself into the television business.

How has the switch from being in the radio sector and politics to TV been for you?

As above.

Everyone has been asking the question Why leave such a massive brand like Sunrise TV, which is your family business, to join a rival channel when you had your own Sunrise TV?

I never saw Sony as a rival, Sunrise Radio have always enjoyed a very close business relationship with both the company and the team here. Sunrise TV was created to target a different market from Sony. When I decided to embark on a new journey, there was no other Asian television network that ever came to mind apart from Sony.

When did you start thinking Sunrise wasn۪t for you and you wanted to leave?

Like everyone else, I always strive to excel in business. The radio and television industries are so different, that I jumped at the opportunity for a new challenge. I was seen as a veteran in the radio industry with 14 years۪ service and I۪m far too young to be viewed as such, hence the opportunity to learn and grow further in this ever evolving world of media was an opportunity I did not wish to miss.

How do you switch off from your Sony mind when you go back home your family who is still connected to Sunrise?

My take on things are that at work I look after the European business for a leading television network but as soon as I۪m home, I۪m a dad to my three kids and a TV addict! The children love singing and dancing so Indian Idol is always a huge hit in my household.

With so many movements happening in the UK Asian media sector mergers/takeovers, etc, how do you see times changing for Multi Screen Media in UK/Europe?

The Asian television market in the UK is extremely dynamic and easily one of the most difficult to succeed in. Rather than the mergers and changes involving channels, I think that the important changes coming to UK/Europe in the next few years is in technology and the delivery of content to our viewers. As Sony, we aim to stay firmly at the front of the pack in regards to innovation and footprint.

[quote]…we believe we still offer the best value for money, with 5 leading premium channels at only 3.60 per channel per month.[end_quote]

VIEWASIA is gearing up for major changes with SAB TV, Sahara One, Aaj Tak planning to go free to air and only five channels now forming the pack, with no change to the 17.99 price, why have you made such a decision?

Although Sony looks after the VIEWASIA package, the channels involved are still very much independent. Aaj Tak and Sahara One made a business decision to go free to air, and after building a great relationship with them over the last few years, we mutually and amicably agreed on the decision. The decision behind SONY SAB was based on a more larger scale global strategy relating to the channel, with the plan being to make the channel the most widely available and watched Asian channel in the International market. In regards to VIEWASIA, first of all the five channels (ARY Digital, B4U Movies, Colors, SONY MAX and SONY TV Asia) in the package are all leaders within their genres, be it currently or historically. Over the past few years there has been many changes in the economic climate, however we have not increased the price of the VIEWASIA package. When the VAT rate went up twice, we did not pass on the increase to our viewers, when we added Colors, the price still remained the same. Even through increases in running costs and other providers increasing their prices, we kept our price the same.

Do you not feel 17.99 for five channels is expensive for Sky viewers, when Virgin Media offers around 11 channels for much less?

Virgin Media is a different service provider with different costs and hence pricing structures. On digital satellite (I say digital satellite because you do not need to pay for Sky to be a VIEWASIA subscriber), we believe we still offer the best value for money, with 5 leading premium channels at only 3.60 per channel per month. Compare this to the other Asian subscription offerings and you will see exactly where the value lies. In the grand scale of things, most of our subscribers would ONLY watch our channels; compare that to the sports or movie packages and the prices charged for them for much less viewer hours.

How do you think subscribers will react with the news that they will be paying the same 17.99 for five channels the same they did with eight channels? Surely, the price should have gone down too?

Our viewers appreciate premium channels and pay to be able to enjoy quality entertainment. The difference is that the five channels they watched are in the subscription package and the other three are still there, just free to air.

Sony SAB will be the network۪s first free channel from Multi Screen Media why did you take up the decision on turning this free instead of keeping it in VIEWASIA?

See previous answers.

Do you think Sahara One and Aaj Tak have left because they didn۪t see any major value during their time with VIEWASIA?

I don۪t want to try and guess on behalf of other channels.

What do you think the move onwards is for the UK Asian TV sector free-to-air or subscription?

I think there is benefit in both. If you have the consistent quality to charge a price, then subscription will work. However, even in the free to air market, the offering has to be of a very high quality as you are now not only providing entertainment to a larger viewing audience but also showcasing your brand overall.

Sony Entertainment Television Asia is doing incredibly well again in India, what plans have you got for UK viewers on the channel?

Sony TV Asia has always offered the best when it comes to content. In movies, our viewers can look forward to enjoying titles such as The Dirty Picture, Talaash and Ek Tha Tiger. Our dramas are really gaining a great reputation led by Bade Acche Lagte Hai. As for reality shows and event, we have Filmfare and Miss India plus arguably the two biggest shows in Asian television: Indian Idol 6 (starting June) and KBC returning with the legendary Amitabh Bachchan later in the year. Add to the local programming such as Andaaz from the US and the brand new UK based show Snapshot, and our UK viewers are in for an amazing year of television.

There have been plans to launch other channels such as Sony Aath and Sony Mix will they be arriving anytime soon in the UK?

We are constantly looking at ways to bring new channels to viewers in the UK, our channels are all given the same importance and the quality is always very high on everything we produce. SONY Aath and SONY MIX are two channels which are part of our plans.

Where do you see Multi Screen Media Asia in a year from now?

Leading the way, both in India and International markets.

Final message

Stay tuned to Sony, and if you want to find out more follow me on Twitter @TonyLit!