What is the state of broadcasting in Thailand today?
TECHARUNGCHAIKUL: I think for broadcasting we are at a very interesting and exciting period. If we talk about the broadcasting industry in the past 4 to 5 years, we only think about 6 TV stations. 4 of them are commercial or private stations and the other two are public stations. But things have changed drastically. Technology wise, people receive the signal with a different way of reception, and from the producer or production side, the signal is transmitted in a different way. I think if you talk about how people watch programs, it is also very different now. In the past, viewer behavior was mainly shaped by the stations because there were only 4 stations in the market and 2 stations captured about 80% of the viewership in the country. Nowadays, I think that viewers tend to have their own prime time, satellite TV has come into play, many channels offer many different types of quality content. So now, viewers have benefited from having more choices and options. Producers also benefit from having to keep up with making good quality content to offer to the audience. It is a very exciting period indeed.
From a financial perspective, what kind of growth has the broadcasting industry seen in recent years and what do you expect going forward?
TECHARUNGCHAIKUL: 4 to 5 years ago, we only had 4 commercial or private stations, so the price of advertising was very high and there were only a few advertisers that could afford to pay that high rate for TV media. Nowadays, we have more channels available, and the price per minute in those new channels has come down as opposed to those 4 stations. So we have seen a lot more new advertisers that in the past could not afford to use TV media. With the entrants of the new advertisers, the pool of the advertising money is bigger.
What new initiatives is RS involved in?
TECHARUNGCHAIKUL: We entered the satellite TV market about 4 years ago. In just one year, we managed to achieve a very good rating or viewership figure. We are now at the leading position if we look at all the players in the satellite TV market. To achieve that, we have never thought of ourselves as a second tier player, we aim to produce good quality content, and we aim to offer very good quality content to the viewers. We are not afraid to make a huge investment. At the beginning, it made a big loss, but in just two years’ time, we made a good return on investment and at the same time we built up very good brand equity among the viewers.
If you talk about initiatives, or what we have done. I would say that we have been in the content production side for many years, but in the past, there was no opportunity or window of opportunity for us to manage the station by ourselves. What we could do in the past was produce the content and then sell it to other TV stations. Now it is time for us to pool all of our resources, all of our personnel, and produce very good content, and manage it on our own channels, with flexibility.
How does having your own channel impact profitability overall?
TECHARUNGCHAIKUL: If you talk about the production services business, at the beginning, it would yield a better return as compared to managing our own channels. Over time, that production service is very stable in terms of the profitability. But managing your own channels has much bigger growth potential because you can benefit and utilize the advertising money from the better viewership you can gain along the way.
What kinds of investments has RS made and what do you have in the pipeline?
TECHARUNGCHAIKUL: Channel 8 is one example. It is our leading or flagship channel at the moment, and not so many people believed that we would dare to invest a lot of money in soap operas or drama series productions. We have put the same amount of money or production cost that we do on the free to air TV stations. At the beginning, it made a huge loss, but viewers start to feel that they can expect consistent quality and the viewership has increased over time and we have now broken even on that large investment.
Are you happy with the share price of RS?
I would say that RS is a classic growth story, especially given the turning point of the media landscape in the country. We can use our content power to capture audiences and build up viewership base. There is no doubt that we can do that because we have proven success in the satellite TV platform earlier.
TECHARUNGCHAIKUL: If you ask any management of any listed company, no one is pleased or happy with the share price performance simply because we know much better than the outside investors. So we understand the growth potential much more. But that is understandable. So if I have to speak to the potential new investors, I would say that RS is a classic growth story, especially given the turning point of the media landscape in the country. We can use our content power to capture audiences and build up viewership base. There is no doubt that we can do that because we have proven success in the satellite TV platform earlier. There is nothing that can stop us from repeating that performance again in the digital terrestrial platform that is coming to the country in a few months’ time.
For new potential investors, I think that it is absolutely the right time for RS to capture the growth potential of this industry in the next 2 to 3 years. We are ready in every angle, be it the financial side or personnel and content production. I would say that at this time it is the right time to get involved.
What partnerships are you currently involved in?
TECHARUNGCHAIKUL: RS has positioned itself as a content provider, so we focus on making our content accessible or viewable by anyone on any platform in the country. By not having conflicting objectives, and being a good content provider, and owning the platform, I think we have more flexibility. We have partnered with one of the major set-top box vendors in the country by putting our Channel 8 at number 8. This has proven to be a very successful strategy because not only do you have to make good content, but you also need to make it easy to access. So I would give the credit to this strategy quite heavily for Channel 8’s success.
Looking ahead, what do you think is next for Thailand’s broadcasting industry?
TECHARUNGCHAIKUL: At the beginning, all of the changes in any industry would make the growth potential very attractive. You do not know, but businessmen always hope for the best. I think the growth potential is the most exciting factor in this industry right now. What are the challenges? Of course competition because anyone can come in instead of having just a few players protected by the concession like it was in the past. Now, many new comers with a lot of money, some will be able to produce good content, some may not, but still, competition will be very high. So how can you stand out from the crowd? That is the big challenge.
What are your biggest growth lines going forward and how do you see business mix evolving?
TECHARUNGCHAIKUL: If we look at the RS portfolio right now, 50% of our revenue comes from the media business. In the media business, the satellite TV or the TV channel management is the highest percentage. We still have the music business and we still have show business. But going forward, the contribution from the media business will only grow higher. So maybe in the next 2 to 3 years, we may see media grow to 70% of the company’s portfolio and at that time we may change from a household name as a music company that has been very well known among Thais for the past 30 years to a media house.