Barun Das: A Transformational Leaders Across The Media & Entertainment Business | CEOInsights Vendor
Barun Das: A Transformational Leaders Across The Media & Entertainment Business

Barun Das: A Transformational Leaders Across The Media & Entertainment Business

Barun Das  ,    CEO

Barun Das


He is a transformational leader who has the proven capability to convert adversity into opportunity. Growth is his mantra and he works tirelessly building highly successful organizations. A media veteran, Barun Das is currently the CEO of TV9 Network, India’s biggest news network. Being associated with some of the best-known media brands in India and abroad, Barun’s evolution as a quintessential leader across the field of media and entertainment at such a young age has charmed many industry stalwarts. His last corporate stint was with Zee News, where he achieved the milestone of becoming the youngest CEO of any news network in India, achieving growth in the recession period. Prior to this, Barun held top management positions at India Today Group, ABP Group, Astro All Asia, Networks Plc. Kuala Lumpur. Eager to explore the nuances of entrepreneurship, Barun ventured to lay the foundation of his mobile only videos platform startup Mydia100 Communications focusing exclusively on the amalgamation of technology, content, and healthcare. Barun is now back to building new benchmarks in the news genre as TV9 Network embraces new frontiers of growth.

Barun engages in an exclusive interaction with CEO Insights. Excerpts from the interview:

Under your leadership, TV9 Bharatvarsh has become the undisputed Hindi news television leader. How did this miracle happen?
We have scripted history to be crowned the new leader in the most competitive Hindi news genre as our flagship TV9 Bharatvarsh has beaten legacy players of over two decades. TV9 Bharatvarsh has become the country’s most watched national Hindi news channel.The channel’s coverage of landmark news events such as the RussiaUkraine war, the COVID pandemic and the Uttar Pradesh election to name just three marked by its editorial prowess, newsroom innovation, impeccable packaging and unrivalled ground reportage, saw it rise sharply up the ratings ladder. This rise has been consistent over the last two years.

We always knew that we were destined to be the leader. I am happy that the ratings released(in mid-March 2022 after a break of about 17 months) have offered empirical evidence of our leadership. I am amused that the only business strategy the legacy channels had to stop the rise of TV9 Bharatvarsh was to stop the ratings itself in October 2020. I am glad that the interest and the verdict of the viewers has finally prevailed. TV9 Bharatvarsh has demonstrated its leadership week after week and we promise to exceed viewer expectations.

Not just TV9 Bharatvarsh, TV9 Network as a whole has witnessed unparalleled growth. What have been the other aspects that drove this success?
Wherever I have worked, irrespective of the genre, I have strived to be the number one in that genre.I would owe this success to the alignment of my vision with the promoters’ because I have never settled on anything but the top position.
Another factor that catapulted TV9 Network’s emergence as the number one news network in the country is the zero intervention of promoters in day-to-day management.

I think this is one of the rarest examples in the country where the promoters have completely taken their hands off from interfering in the decision-making process of this organization and this is one of the key success factors behind the exponential growth of TV9 Network.

When you hire a professional, you must trust him/her, and believe that the professional is competent. You as an organization should allow the professional to build a team. This is exactly what my relationship with TV9 Network has blossomed into. We have demonstrated almost 40 percent growth in the last two consecutive years despite the COVID scenario, and our revenue has grown three fold. Remaining aligned with our objective, we would like to repeat this exceptional success in the future as well.

Digital transformation has been the talk of the town over recent years. Have you brought in any technology interventions after taking over the reins?
No, not to that extent, because more than digital transformation, it is the system, and processes that decide the course of the organization and only then can you go for digitization. One of the first steps of the corporatization of an organization is developing and institutionalising processes and systems. Without systems and processes, you can’t grow. So, systems and processes are the first two peaks to conquer.

Success isnever accidental. When success is achieved through design, it can be easily replicated

In today’s time, it’s all digital and programmatic. You don't have to do anything manually. For example, if your performance management system is automated, you need to have a very robust performance management system process front, and then you focus on digital.

TV9 Network is all set to launch the OTT platform, News9 Plus. Is it about going with the trend, or will it be something disruptive again?
Our digital business has grown exponentially, and we are one of the fastest media channels to reach 100million subscribers from where we began. Even during this pandemic, we managed to recruit close to 600 people which helped us build our digital team. We added TV9 Telugu digital and TV9 Bharatvarsh digital as ou r newest challenges which are reflecting in our organic growth.

Soon after, I realized that the future of content consumption is ‘what you want, when you want’. In the present entertainment domain, the concept of linear televisions is depleting with ads in between, and shortly, this will cease to exist as a format. As a natural progression towards the pattern of evolving news consumption, News9 Plus has come into existence. News9 Plus is the world’s first ever video mag for GenFlix a generation of OTT consumers who grew up watching Netflix. Another innovative digital initiative of ours is Money9, which is our way of contributing to financial inclusion. A multilingual offering based on all three formats video, text and audio, Money9 is currently programmed in seven languages including six regional languages and English. However I would not term these innovations as disruptive, but rather constructive and also a prolific way of thinking ahead.
So,going forward, what are your future plans, in terms of investments, growth and talent acquisition?
If we take a look at our company's life cycle for the past two years, we have been demonstrating exponential growth. Starting as a South Indian brand, we had a new launch in the north and currently, we have an offering in the Bengali language as well.

We were a non-existent entity as far as media is concerned in northern India, and two years back, people were largely unaware of TV9 Network. As we are catching up with legacy brands and national brands here, we would like to further grow in terms of revenue.

Now, having turned into the number one news network in the country and one of the most successful news organizations of recent times, the people piece has become equally important for us (as much as revenue and viewership). As our focus has turned to people centric issues now, we are taking a fresh look at the entire HR framework of the company and building it very aggressively. So, that is the immediate job we have on our hands at the cusp of the new financial year.

One of our key areas of success will continue to be the supremacy of TV9 Bharatvarsh, to sustain an undisputed leadership in the Hindi domain, as we have in the Southern States. We are also focusing on News9 Plus and Money9, to make them successful and streamlined in the next one and half years. If News9 Plus is successful, we will be fostering our aspirations of going global with it and getting into the mainstream news offering in the western world.

What would be your advice to budding leaders in the media industry?
When you talk about the media industry, people often think that the media industry is a homogeneous industry which is not quite true. For instance, if you take news and entertainment, they’re completely two different business domains.

Entertainment television works in a traditional product market scenario way. After you figure out what the consumers want, you try to produce the same thing for the consumer and sell it to them. News is completely different because you can’t create news content. Being two different businesses, the classical business approaches do not get applied to the news genre and that needs to be understood. Once you figure that out, the rest of the scenario is pretty much the same.

If you're a budding leader, you must aspire and dream big. But apart from dreaming, you should back it up with hard work and investing in yourself.

Barun Das, CEO, TV9 Network
An alumnus of IIT Madras, IIM Calcutta and London School of Economics, Barun holds more than 25 years of experience across top managerial positions and as an entrepreneur in the national as well as international media sector.Under his aegis, TV9 Bharatvarsh, a scion of TV9 Network, witnessed unparalleled growth and has recently scripted history by emerging as the undisputed leader among national Hindi news channels ending a legacy of 22 years. TV9 Network under his command has further consolidated its leadership as the most watched news network in the country.

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