Abu Dhabi Media is changing the way it works. Its traditional role as a multi-media public service must evolve through commercial means as the urgent need to mitigate the cost of the company to the Abu Dhabi government bears heavy on the shoulders of its new CEO Malcolm Wall, the head of state-owned Abu Dhabi […]
Abu Dhabi Media is changing the way it works. Its traditional role as a multi-media public service must evolve through commercial means as the urgent need to mitigate the cost of the company to the Abu Dhabi government bears heavy on the shoulders of its new CEO
Malcolm Wall, the head of state-owned Abu Dhabi Media (ADM) is used to taking on a challenge. In his former role as chief executive for content of Virgin Media, he was responsible for managing and increasing $1.5billion (AED5.5 billion) of revenues and his new position at ADM is proving equally as ambitious.
Appointed in September 2011 as the new CEO of ADM, Wall is tasked with the awesome responsibility of turning one of the largest media businesses in the region spanning TV, press, radio and digital into a commercially viable company in a bid to ease the financial burden it poses to its owner and operator, the Abu Dhabi government.
ADM aims to be the number one public service media provider in the country, primarily targeted at the youth population, while operating as a commercially self-funding media company with brands that reach across the pan-Arab world.
It is this strategy that forms ADMs vision going forward.
Abu Dhabi Media was established in 2007 and since its inception has grown to manage more than 20 market-leading brands across free and pay television, radio, publishing, digital media, games, feature films, music, digital signage, outside broadcast/production, and printing.
It comprises three operating divisions: broadcast, publishing and digital media. Together, it owns and operates many of the most popular media brands in the region, including the TV channels Abu Dhabi Al Oula and Abu Dhabi Riyadiya/AD Sports; Emirate FM and Star FM radio stations; Al Ittihad and The National newspapers; Majid and Zahrat Al Khaleej magazines; and the web sites anazahra.com and admcsport.com.
ADM plans to continue to leverage these popular public service brands that serve the UAE, while creating and launching brands with clear commercial objectives.
Abu Dhabi Media has its well-established public service offering, and the TV programmes and digital products we have are assets we are immensely proud of, but we must also develop its commercial service on a greater scale, explains Wall.
The first tangible demonstration of ADMs new commercial direction is the addition to its Abu Dhabi Radio Network of Indias largest radio station, Radio Mirchi.
The business partnership with Entertainment Network (India) Limited, the channels Indian owners, a subsidiary of The Times of India Group, marks Abu Dhabi Medias first foray into the Asian market and a high profile event saw the radio station go live to a UAE audience on February 1, 2012.
The news, music and entertainment radio channel is Indias number one FM brand and will transmit in Hindi across three frequencies in the UAE- 97.3FM Abu Dhabi, 88.8FM Dubai and northern emirates, and 95.6FM Al Ain- catering to the UAEs south Asian expat population.
During the launch, Wall noted the addition of Radio Mirchi to ADMs portfolio as a significant step to broadening ADMs product offering and increasing its reach across the emirates.
The Radio Mirchi brand holds extensive commercial opportunities for the company, explains Wall. It connects us with one of the most influential consumer groups in the UAE, the south Asian expat sector and establishes Radio Mirchi as a powerful platform from which advertisers to reach them.
The expansion of Abu Dhabi Radio Network is set to continue during 2012 and although Wall is reluctant to disclose specific information, the CEO is exploring potential commercial deals across all ADMs divisions during the next few years.
We have a comprehensive portfolio of offerings and we are looking at developing these over the course of the year. I dont want to elaborate on this in case it gets back to the competition, but watch this space, Wall confirms.
Established brands provide a solid base from which to nurture new and existing products. Arabic TV station, Al Oula has a loyal audience; Zahrat Al Khaleej is one of the most successful womens magazines in the GCC; and anaZahra.com has gained impressive traction locally despite launching just a year ago. Wall confirms that content across the entire broadcast and publishing products will be delivered on as many digital platforms as possible.
Newspaper content will reach readers on mobile, tablet and on-line. Development of the video-on-demand product will complement linear channels, while radio channels will broadcast conventionally and digitally.
Just recently, Abu Dhabi Radio Network launched its iPhone and Blackberry app for radio listeners, and in a bid to harness a larger global audience, online streaming of radio channels continues to develop at pace.
It is an attempt to not just push content to users but to engage and involve the consumer says Wall.
Our aim must be to keep the brands relevant. You have to do two things, one is to make sure you have an appropriate conduit to the consumer and secondly, you have to have powerful brands with which to work.
Much of the companys digital success will depend on the convergence of the companys broadcast and publishing divisions and breaking down traditional walls of content delivery. This is a challenge Wall recognises.
Take radio for example. There are some very interesting characteristics of radio listening in this country. Some 90% of listeners are in their cars. To improve the consumer experience and reach a larger audience, we hope to expand these routes of out-of-home listening as well as at-home listening.
Along with the technological advances, Wall maintains that the public service role assumed by ADM must be at the heart of everything it does and is as important as its commercial objectives.
And as the company lays out its strategy to ensure its financial success for the future the CEOs vision is clear.
ADMs operations must move from the traditional divisions of broadcast, publishing and digital media to emerge as a commercial model to ensure its longevity in the burgeoning pan-Arab market.