Broadband TV News speaks with Andrew Semchenko, CEO of English Club TV.
English Club TV was launched six years ago. What, in your view, have been its biggest challenges and achievements to date?
We started this project as a team of enthusiastic personalities united by the goal of helping people learn English. English Club TV had and has a unique format. There is nothing else like it operating at the global level. We are constantly working on cultural sensitivity and trying to find the narrower niches within the niche we are working in.
We provide support and help to people who are learning English. At the same time we motivate our viewers to learn this essential medium of communication. Motivating views goes hand in hand with the quality materials and technologies that we provide.
Our main challenge was to demonstrate the ability of TV to act as a tutor, teacher and motivator, not just an entertainer and information distributor.
2013 was a particularly busy year for English Club TV. Were there any particular highlights for you?
I would like to point out that 2013 was busy year for most companies. But it inspired us to intensify our development activities. In my opinion, one of our main achievements last year was the launch of the English Club TV channel in Asia. We have been working hard to reach out to our viewers there and thanks to our clients we now have a chance to expand further in this territory. The Asian version, which is also broadcast in the Middle East and Africa, is different from the European one. More and more providers in these regions are starting to understand the importance of educational and useful television. And we are happy to provide products like these to the market. From time to time there are barriers in working with decision-makers who think like managers or economists, and forget about the educational and motivational aspects of the products they provide to their end users. Once we break through these barriers and hit the market, we usually receive a lot of grateful messages from our clients.
In addition to this we also made deals last year with several European giants in the industry, such as UPC (Austria), Slovak Telecom (Slovakia), Bouygues Telecom (France) and TTNET (Turkey).
Has English Club TV extended its reach to North and Latin America yet, and, if not, when do you expect this to happen?
Man proposes but God disposes. English Club TV is represented in North and Latin America by Olimpusat Inc. Now that we have received some positive feedback from them, we will first negotiate a place for the English Club TV channel on US, Brazilian and Mexican networks. As capacity is an issue for every market we are trying to find the best solution to negotiate representation in the American markets.
Although English Club TV started off as a B2B service, it began to move into B2C last year. How is this progressing and what plans do you have for the future?
When we started this project, we were following our mission to help people learn English affordably, everywhere in the world. For instance, if you live in China where there are no English Club TV channels that doesn’t mean that people don’t want to learn English there. That is why we offer the English Club TV channel online. Viewers can download their favorite shows via the internet using ECTV TV ON-THE-GO web service. We are constantly developing this resource, analysing the needs of our viewers. The team of professional methodologists, IT specialists and teachers are working on this project to make it educational and interactive. Our goal is not only to help people learn English, but to constantly improve it and take the next step. That is why it is important to interact with viewers using every tool available.
What are English Club TV’s main goals for 2014?
First of all, we would like to continue making our channel better and better. We are going to produce several new projects. Secondly, we plan to extend English Club TV channels into Latin America and develop them further in Asia. We have a long-term strategy and the constant development of technologies and content delivery tools allows us to adjust our goals higher. This year we would like to realise our initial goal: to blanket the globe with the English Club TV channel. We are also investigating new technologies such as the Smart TV market and mobile applications and expect to soon be there with bright and useful content for learning English.
How do you see English Club TV developing over the next few years, given the rapidly changing nature of the marketplace?
As I mentioned earlier, we have to develop our distribution channels in almost every direction, on TV, the internet, smart TVs, and mobile devices, because users can, and need to, find useful, educational information everywhere. Our laboratory is constantly working on ways to increase the quality of our educational material and provide help and support only for students, but also for teachers. The English Club TV channel is a motivator to learn English. It is a global ambassador with valuable television content for all ages and social statuses. That is why the English Club TV Group will extend its educational services and products and continue to remind us that “it is still possible to learn while having fun”.