We are in the business of engagement and engagement means a reaction to the content: Hosi Simon

We are in the business of engagement and engagement means a reaction to the content: Hosi Simon thumbnail
India is going through a “golden age” for a company like VICE Media to launch operations, says Hosi Simon, chief executive for Asia-Pacific. VICE Media, in partnership with the Times of India Group that also publishes this newspaper, is bringing the entire suite of its offerings, from TV studio to in-house creative wing, to the Indian market. Simon spoke to ET on Thursday after the formal launch of its operations in Asia’s third-largest economy. Edited excerpts:

The launch of VICE Media has been in the works for some time now. What was the reason for the delay?
We are launching at exactly the right time. As a company, we are very deliberate in our approach. We are very careful. We wanted to make sure that we were launching in India in a way that was meaningful, and is as ambitious as we set ourselves to be. What we spent the last couple of years, was doing tonnes of immersion, learning, but most important, hiring the best talent… We are extremely excited about the foundation.

Can you outline the editorial strategy of VICE Media for India?
The reason why we are in India, is that we look at it as a massive, massive opportunity. When you look at India, from an outsider’s perspective, you see it as a numbers story, a growth story and a population story. We do think of it as that, but also much more than that as well. We see India as a revenue, growth to a commercial opportunity, but also as a cultural opportunity.

There are two sides to this. There is a massive moment happening here, where young people are coming online (for the first time), there is free data. It is the golden age for a company like ours — a premium content provider — to make and provide content in this country right now, for as many distribution platforms, including the ones we own and operate. The whole country is going through a transformation. A generational shift is about to happen, where the centre of gravity of voice will be transferred to young people. That is happening now… There’s a huge opportunity to tell stories about India, from India, which will be very interesting to the rest of the world, and change people’s perception of the country.

There couldn’t be a better moment for us, as VICE, to invest in India, create something local that is a media company run by Indians that caters to young Indians… I’ve been with VICE for the last 12 years, and have been involved with launches in China in 2012, Japan and Indonesia. I can say with confidence that there hasn’t been a more ambitious launch than this, for us. We are really bringing the full suite of the entire company to India on Day One.

What’s going to be the content mix for you with regard to India?
Our aim is to be 70% local and 30% global content. When I say global content, I want to be clear that we are in 40 territories across the world and in 28 different languages on a daily basis right now.

Our content goes into a global pool, like a best of from around the world. When we say from around the world, it truly means that. We launched our website earlier this week, on Monday. I think it’s an extremely good representation of where we want to go as a company, covering a wide array of subjects and issues of what people in this country are interested in.



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