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First Kyiv and Odesa, then Kharkiv: Live Holding aims for regional leadership in Ukraine, Pt.2
 20 Jan 2021
Continues from https://ceetv.net/readItem?id=51922

Svitlana: It is important to understand that large television holdings are now trying to adapt to the challenges of the time and sometimes bring Digital into something. Some do it more successfully, as 1+1 Media, some catch up with them like StarLight, someone does nothing at all, like Media Group Ukraine, but they are trying. But since we have the opportunity to build from scratch, we will initially make digital as a direction equivalent to television, and this applies to the press center and journalists of the newsroom as well. Journalists will not shoot just for TV and whatever is left will go to digital. There will be separate editorial tasks for digital and television. It also seems that it will be very important to create synergy in this not only in terms of geography, but also in terms of types of presentation and signal transmission.

If I understand correctly, the main goal is to become a number one regional channel, and then become the national leader?

Dmytro: Generally, yes. By far the most important task is regional leadership for each channel and each media digital element. Plus, the goal is to take our niche at the local level.

Viktor: This is a horizontal growth.

Dmytro: We clearly understand that we will be able to maintain the specific weight of the audience by region due to the amount of audience and able to compete with any national media, especially considering all the resources – YouTube, websites, Viber, Telegram and the TV channels.

I recently read studies that showed a disinterest of Ukrainians in knowing who owns a particular TV channel. What does your research show? You also have a politician as the owner.

Viktor: In fact, the first and main idea is that in Ukraine most of the media is owned by someone. The most important thing is how this owner is configured to use this media. What are the agreements between the owners and the people who run the channel and those who form the channel's policy? What are the owner’s goals for this media. When we talked with the investor before clenching our hands and saying that we are starting to work on the channel, we had an agreement that the main goal of the channel is development. All what is needed for development is content formed in accordance with the viewers’ request. We did not have any political engagement or dialogues that we should support some politicians and not support the others. The agreement calls for the most objective coverage of events, an unbiased attitude to anyone according to standards. Ethical standards are important for us. This is a business - we are a managing company – The Institute of Modeling. We need to show a case of success, that is, we need to take a channel with some indicators and must show the result when our contract ends.

What is the term of your contract?

Viktor: As of now it is a commercial secret.

Svitlana: It seems to us that the term is sufficient to show the result.

Viktor: We understand that the result of our work should be obvious to our potential clients, our colleagues, and the market, and everyone should see that we have done something better, we have made progress, and this is our successful case. This is our main task. We are outside politics, we are professionals and we fulfill our function here.

Svitlana: We have experience of working in large media groups at top positions, and now we want to show that it is possible to create a new configuration. It is obvious that for a long time there has been a period of stagnation on the television market in Ukraine - there is a certain alignment of forces, this is all somehow twisting some of its configurations.

Dmytro: But this is just a very small swamp of people – the same faces just move from one media group to another. They run out of creativity and inspiration in one media group, and find it in another media group literally a week later. This is the specificity of the Ukrainian media market. We decided to change a little.

Svitlana; There is a need of a positive disruptor. Someone to shake things up.

Dmytro: And to show just another form of media management, nothing more. We are not interested in anything other than a successful business case.

Viktor: This absolutely suits the investor, because he is interested in the media to be successful, to be high-rated.

Svitlana: What makes him differ from some other owners we have worked with is the fact that he does not influence the editorial policy, he does not want to see or know anything here at all. He has delegated the tasks and does not select the presenters or call them to make any changes.

Obviously, in Ukraine, as well as in other Central Eastern European countries - in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, it is still not the realization of business interests, not such of a primary business. If this is your primary business, then you definitely don’t have the resources to do it at the desired level. It’s a vicious circle. If you don’t have money, but you are trying to build television to build a business around it, and you cannot because you have no money. But if you have a lot of money and you build television, it still does not increase income in any way, but capitalizes you in a different way. Therefore, it is clear that any owner of any channel in Ukraine capitalizes on the image and influence, which are not necessarily built on the channel. Just like that television in Ukraine as an attribute can be compared with football or basketball teams in the United States. Rich people are moving away from the story with football, because it doesn't matter if the team belongs to you or not (but it definitely costs like a channel), it still hurts to watch it. At least owning a channel you can show something good. Therefore, it is an attribute of belonging for people who have a great influence on the side, and until the moment it starts to be used as some kind of an accessary or something. The audience immediately feels any imbalance. Some niche channels can show a friend of the owner for five hours straight, and people will not watch it. This is why some niche channels do not publish measurement data or not get measured at all, because here performance or numbers are not the result. And we directly set the result and therefore have no problems with this, but instead we have a problem with a shortage of personnel in the market.

Many young guys from big holdings are actively coming to us. They are interested because we can cover their two needs. The first is to activate. It is one thing when a person achieves a great product because he is at Starlight, 1+1 or Media Group Ukraine, where there is already a huge machine that works for you, but it is completely different to do it in a place where you do it yourself. And the second is the understanding that this is a different story.

Viktor: It is interesting that coming for an interview and different meetings, almost everyone asks questions about the limitations? Who are we not showing? We take the image of our Nadezhda and say - there are no restrictions, we must make a cool product that she will watch. The more Nadezhdas watch, the better. This is our main task and the main conditional limitation.

And people like it, it attracts attention because everyone can come to this office and share ideas on improving the work. We have announced it on numerous occasions to share, maybe the feelings or observations from the inside which we did not notice. You can come to talk to us to discuss show your vision, we will definitely consider and if this idea is such that we understand it will lead us to a result and make better, we will definitely take it. It's just that everyone can get creative realization. This is important. It is not just material that is important for people, but also self-realization. Moreover, the majority of people here are creative on television, this is a priority need.

What are the distribution models? What are your relations with cable, satellite?

Svitlana: We now have both channels, Kyiv and Odesa, on the satellite with sufficiently wide coverage. Both channels are also in the cable, both have analog and satellite licenses. Another advantage over national channels is very different types of receiving.

Dmytro: Odesa watches television via a satellite in the digital format or through IPTV. There is almost an equal of TVs in the three connections. In Kyiv the situation is completely different. Satellite gives the smallest connection (about 12 percent), IPTV a little bigger and cable provides the majority. This also gives us the opportunity to balance, that is, we do not need to lift all the TV channels to the satellite at the same time.

Viktor: As for Kyiv, we are present in the networks of most cable operators. The only thing that we are now actively negotiating, because we are not always present at the buttons we would like to.

Svitlana: Currently we are in the process of re-issuing the license, re-issuing the name, because the name of the channel in some cable networks differs. We are already starting work on wider distribution but are still waiting for March 1. We need all this to appear on March 1, because we do not want the person to turn the channel on and see some kind of trash content there. Therefore, we now focus more on the B2B communications and telling more about the channel because it is important to show that we have big plans.

Is there interest from the business? Advertisers?

Dmytro: We are convinced that in advertising, given the fact that the main specialization of our company is social technologies, we are able to work well with them. We always target deeply and distinctively. Building regionally allows the advertiser to very clearly target their audience and not shoot sparrows from a cannon. In fact, this can be regarded as support for the mid-sized business, not the FMCG, for example. Therefore, this will give an opportunity to enter the market and get their sites for regional business interests of the company, and so on. Also, the platforms we work on – Viber, Telegram, Internet TV, give us an opportunity to offer a fairly wide a palette of opportunities. The pricing policy will be adequate to all platforms that will most effectively lead business processes to its audience. We will attract the same money but through a difference process.

This project is interesting to us because it lets us look at the market from another angle in current conditions. Yes, we have to change the established canons, including in the advertising business, in television, in any other.

Viktor: Differentiate or die (laughs).

Dmytro: We understand it very clearly. On top of Kyiv.Live, we have another project - Coronavirus info, which we launched voluntarily last spring as the social responsibility of our company. We partnered with the Ministry of Health to support communication on coronavirus and the pandemic in general in Ukraine. We are the only structure that was able to systematize communication at the time of a pandemic between all authorities, between society. All the processes were systematized. This case entered the top five of the European Excellence Award, alongside Deutsche Post and Facebook.

Viktor: This is an influence tool, because the information campaign of Coronavirus Info covered 27 million people, the number of subscribers varies from 3 to 4 million. This number of users is several times higher than the indicators of some TV channels of the holding.

Someone would think that such a hype was completely accidental, we saw a great demand for information about studying when school started in the fall. People could not find verified information about studies, the parents, the students. and we realized that this is also a request and we can make a cool community about studying during the pandemic. We made a community, which gained 780.000 subscribers in the first day, now there are over 888.000 subscribers this is the largest community about studying in Ukraine and we broke our own record because Coronavirus Info accumulated such a number of subscribers only a week later. But here, it reached this high on the first day.

Dmytro: Given our experience in this regard, we see that the future is already here. It's not about building a large holding where you can buy 5000 GRP in one window.

The future is mobile. A small mobile group or a new modern approach with a fast-systematic thinking can make wonders, set records, innovate and get ahead. And our many successful nationwide cases prove it.

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