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Digital TV Europe November/December 2010


Euro 50 > Leaders in broadband and pay-TV


Roma Khanna President, Universal Networks Int’l & digital initiatives, NBC Universal International


Roma Khanna has reshaped UNI’s business, driving the rollout of a five core channel brand portfolio – Syfy Universal, 13th Street Universal, Diva Universal, Universal Channel and Studio Universal.


Age I have finally reached the age where I don’t want to tell!


Education BSc, University of Toronto; LLB, University of Windsor; JD, University of Detroit; MBA, Schulich School of Business, Toronto.


Previous positions President, Universal Networks International & Digital Initiatives, NBC Universal International (2007-present); SVP content and co-head of Chum Television (2005-07); VP, Chum Interactive (2003-05); EVP, Snap Media (1999-2003); manager of legal and business affairs, Sony Music Canada (1995-99).


Achievements of the year Just over a year ago, I set the goal to deliv- er a revitalised, focused and connected portfolio of five core channel brands – Universal Channel, 13th Street Universal, Syfy Universal, Diva Universal and Studio Universal. I am very proud to say that we have delivered on our promise – with great success. Through the hard work of an amazing global team, we have delivered strong channel brands with tent-pole exclusive and first-run content on multiple platforms – and often in HD. These channel brands have resonated with platforms and audiences around the world and have delivered top ratings. Having stat- ed that original production is core to the UNI strategy, we’ve launched four original and exclusive productions: Havenand Rookie Blue– which we are thrilled to say, have already been green lit for second seasons – Shatteredand Factor Faked. And, there is much more to come starting with our newest original legal drama, Fairly Legal, set to launch in 2011. We are also leading the drive towards a 360° brand experience with the launch of a new web-video digital platform powering our channel web- sites – now available in 14 languages across 16 countries – including exclusive, web-only content. We have accomplished everything we set out to achieve. It has been a busy year!


Surprises of 2010 Our strategy is premised on our belief that strong brands and tent-pole content are needed on pay-TV to compete against free outlets. While we have all known that new free platforms like DTT will offer strong competition, I think the speed of development of those platforms, in many markets, has required us to step up our plans. The good news is that our channels are positioned strongly to deliver a branded, unique experience that builds the value of pay-TV offerings.


Goals for next year Having delivered a revitalised channel brand port- folio, we now need to ensure we continually deliver a strong product that audiences love. This means developing more original content, deliv- ering a multiple-platform experience and continuing to build strong local businesses. In the year ahead, we will continue to build scale by launch- ing more of our five core channel brands in existing markets – including HD and +1 – and expanding into new markets, with an increasing focus on more co-productions, both global and local, and original content for both linear and digital. Looking forward, our 360° strategy remains


front and centre. We have a unique opportunity, through our strong brands, to create extensions on non-linear platforms. We are working with all our content partners and platforms to deliver a more rounded 360° experience, richer interactive content, personalised applications and social network environments that will allow our pay-TV audiences to be immersed in our brands anytime, anywhere and on any platform.


Game-changing future development I think there is more than one game-changer coming our way. First, with new technologies like con- nected TVs, it is getting easier for the average consumer to access digi- tal content sources in their home. When the technology is both truly easy to use and affordable, the competition will focus solely on the con- tent and brands. Second, I think there is a revolution happening in con- tent itself; new and innovative financing models are allowing for high- quality content to be produced outside of the normal studio system. Pay television channels, like ours, are creating entirely new markets for con- tent – which means there are more outlets for creators and there will be more stories told. Hit shows will not just come from the usual places anymore. As a person who loves watching great TV, I can tell you that this is great news.


Ambition as a youngster I have only ever wanted to work in media and entertainment. I have always said that music was my first love – and I truly enjoyed working in the music industry. However, I quickly evolved my love to include TV and film and I am happy that the endless hours spent watching TV and movies in my youth now looks like excellent career preparation!


Favourite TV show I have so many favourite TV shows that it is hard to name just one. If you checked my PVR you’d find hours of Gossip Girl, Modern Family, 30 Rockand The Event.


Life outside work I love spending time with my family and friends – usually over a great meal – I love cooking – and a nice bottle of wine.


Visit us at at www.digitaltveurope.net 29


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