Željko Mitrović - Transforming Pink to stay ahead of the game
BY Stanislav Kimchev
Željko Mitrović, Founder and CEO Pink Media Group
Željko, Pink Media Group is the largest private commercial media group in Southeastern Europe and Pink has been dominating the commercial market in Serbia since 1994. What is the main secret behind Pink’s success?
It is not easy to fit your lifework in one simple answer. Although it’s merely a saying – Don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you, I rarely use the word No. That is probably the reason why I rarely hear that word. Every idea can be profitable, it’s only a question whether you have worked hard enough to implement it.

We could say that Pink Media Group is a family company. How much are you involved in the daily operations and creative development of the channel?
I love my job and people I work with. I am a curious person by nature, and I try to learn, listen and stay involved. It’s probably best if you asked my co-workers, but I think they will tell you that I am involved in just about everything (laughing).

In April, Pink decided to sell its terrestrial channels in Montenegro and Bosnia to KKR. What prompted this decision and how will this affect your strategy for the region?
At present, Pink International Company is broadcasting 55 channels. 55 entirely different genre TV channel are available in more than 20 countries. In the year 2018, there is no national TV coverage, all the channels are available to everybody, and the only value of the channel is its well-known brand, and continuous innovations and investments in its content. Pink will most certainly stay in the region, with the tendency to create a digital HD platform. The development strategy and future plans of the Pink Media Group encompass fast development production, building of the new production capacities, creating new TV channels, as well as transformation towards total digitalization.

Serbian media often report about Pink’s long-term debts but that does not seem to affect the operations of the company. Is the business financially stable? Is the ad market in Serbia big enough to support several commercial channels?
After 6 very difficult years, and starting from the year 2010, Pink is finally financially stable. Moreover, it is one of the top 10 companies in Serbia with an EBITDA margin of almost 60%. Overall long-term debt represents only a small part of the yearly IBIDE, meaning that debt is hardly noticeable. By transforming into a digital operator, and being above all a huge production service, today we produce around 55 different programs on a platform, distributed by almost all cable operators in the region. This is by far is a more profitable project for Pink Media Group than advertising, because through cable operators, our programs reach more than 4 million households. Today, the revenue share structure shows that less than 40% of the revenue is generated through advertising, while the rest is generated through single program sales, 55 channels package deal sales, and program production for other TV systems, outside Pink Media Group.


What is your strategy in terms of programming for both flagship channel Pink and your other channels? What were the biggest hits for Pink this spring? How about the popularity of Turkish drama?
Our show The Community. That is the answer to every question. In the previous 9 months, we have realized that the new TV era has arrived. The position of the highest rated commercial television was succeeded by the position of the compellingly highest rated television in the month of May, being far ahead of any other television, including public service RTS. In the era of media being overwhelmed by the big TV show programs, Turkish and American TV series, analyses have shown that I was right in making the decision to invest huge funds (18 million euros) in a completely new generation of reality shows. Unlike previous reality formats, The Community displays real life more explicitly, while the production of this TV show included building of an entire small town. In the next season, this project will be four times bigger, expanded to 5 acres of land, including building of the marina bay with many vessels and other challenges for the contestants, typical for all the exclusive European marinas.

Pink relies mostly on entertainment formats, developed in-house. You rarely adapt formats which is not typical for the region. What is the reason for this? Also, will we see more original scripted content on the main channel?
I have to correct you, for quite some time in the past, Pink had been making the adaptations of all the world-famous formats. At some point, and after years of experience in TV production, I realized that I was ready to express my creative nature to its fullest. And TV ratings later showed that we had caught the right momentum in maturity, but also in courage to make the real turmoil in the field of TV production, thus doubling our audience share.

Pink’s original formats have enjoyed great popularity in the region, with adaptations in both Croatia and Slovenia. Could you tell us more about these partnerships and are you looking to expand to other countries?
RTL and Planet TV recognized the quality and great production capacities of Pink International Company. We produce high-quality programs on very attractive budgets, thus making it possible for these programs to be produced and aired season after season. We have no doubt that the number of these formats will continue to increase every year, and bearing in mind studio, production and technical capacities of Pink International Company, we will certainly be able to cover this increase. The production services of PFI, while having the same quality, are 2 to 5 times less expensive than Western European productions.
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