SEPC offers 45% Discount on MIPCOM Registration Fee

admin   August 2, 2018

It’s raining discount for Indian delegates looking for participation at MIPCOM 2018, the world’s biggest entertainment content market at Cannes, France (October 15-18, 2018).

Service Exports Promotion Council (SEPC), set up by the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India, is offering around 45 per cent discount on registration fee mentioned on the official MIPCOM registration website, which is worth a return air ticket for the delegate to the mega M&E event.

The Government of India has identified Media & Entertainment and audiovisual services as champion sectors to realize its export potential. For the first time, SEPC will organize 61 Sq Mt India Pavilion at MIPCOM. During four days of Meetings, Screenings and Conferences, MIPCOM will bring together world’s top TV and digital content executives, including 13,800 delegates from more than 110 countries, 4,700 buyers and 2,000+ exhibition companies. The number of SVOD and digital platforms attending MIPCOM is on the rise.

Undoubtedly, MIPCOM is the finest in the global media markets that empowers delegates to network with the best business minds, capture emerging trends, listen to masterminds, create business for products and services and think innovation. It is a must attend for decision makers to grasp the new ecosystems in the media business.

Top Indian M&E companies Eros International, ZEEL, Viacom18 Media,  DQE, Toonz, Sacom, Prime Focus, Shemaroo Entertainment, IndiaCast, Ultra, YoBoHo, who are regulars at MIP Markets, have immensely benefited from exporting content and services from MIPCOM.

SEPC is offering MIPCOM delegate registration for Indian delegates on a first-cum-first served basis at Rs 70,000 (No VAT) compared to official registration cost of Rs 125,200 (including 10 per cent VAT). The registration from SEPC will entail all services and facilities for a standard registration badge obtained from MIPCOM.

SEPC has also rolled out a premium registration for Rs 80,000 which will enable Indian delegates to do meetings, display brochures, run trailers and logo branding at India Pavilion. This is the first time the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India, has extended support to Indian companies at MIPCOM. Until now, India has been one of the very few counties in the world which was not supported by the government at MIPCOM. Every country pavilion at MIPCOM is generally supported directly by the government or aided institutions of the respective governments.

“Our objective is to handhold independent creative producers, small and medium audiovisual and media services companies to participate at MIPCOM and enhance their business as well as boost India’s service potential in M&E sector,” says Sangeetha Godbole, Director General, SEPC. “The whole objective is to give Indian M&E companies better access to buyers and distributors and help them grow in the new global markets.”

SEPC can accommodate up to 45 delegates from India to be part of this initiative at the India Pavilion. So far, around 15 people have registered. The registration will be closed when the number of delegates touch 45. Over 200 Indian delegates representing 80 companies participate at MIPCOM every October.

In addition to manage and represent India Pavilion, SEPC will also be promoting the second edition of enTTech 2019 at MIPCOM. enTTech brings together the entire spectrum of Indian M&E services under one umbrella for overseas production studios and offshore companies to explore service offerings from India. In addition to the exhibition, the three day mega event covers workshops, master classes, B2B meetings and field visits, among other activities.

The Media and Entertainment (M&E) Industry is one of the most dynamic industries in India with modern technologies acting as a key enabler for providing world-class services to overseas clients/companies.

The industry is increasingly witnessing the convergence of media, entertainment and technology creating efficiencies in workflow, revenue streams and unique business models.

Indian media, entertainment and technology services are growing at an accelerated pace on the back of growing offshore services domain, especially in animation, VFX, gaming, AR/VR, film production, location and new media, among others. The Indian animation and VFX services have gained a lot of traction among the international producers and production houses.

Top Indian companies have attained leadership to provide niche cloud services for global M&E companies and studios.


Free Speech is Sacrosanct: Uday Shankar Chairman, FICCI Media & Entertainment Committee

admin   February 14, 2018

“To unleash the potential of wealth creation by M&E sector, it is imperative that the right to free speech be protected and the lens through which the industry is looked at be changed,” says Uday Shankar, Chairman, FICCI Media & Entertainment Committee at FICCI FRAMES 2013.

Uday Shankar Chairman, FICCI Media & Entertainment Committee and CEO, Star India

“To unleash the potential of wealth creation by M&E sector, it is imperative that the right to free speech be protected and the lens through which the industry is looked at be changed,” says Uday Shankar, Chairman, FICCI Media & Entertainment Committee at FICCI FRAMES 2013.

Highlighting challenges faced by the media industry, Uday Shankar, Chairman of FICCI Media and Entertainment (M&E) Committee, said efforts to curb free speech in a robust democracy like India was one of the biggest threats that could potentially derail the industry from its growth trajectory.

“When ‘Satyamev Jayate’ points to weaknesses in the medical system,doctors are offended. When ‘Jolly LLB’ creates a courtroom satire, lawyers are offended. Even when a teenager posts a comment on Facebook, some people start baying for her blood,” Shankar said while delivering the theme address at the FICCI FRAME 2013.

Expressing concerns that freedom of speech was still being questioned even after over 60 years of independence, he said it was time to recognize that free speech was “sacrosanct” and not “the right to be offended”.

“We all agree that the role of media is to question status quo. But with the right to question must come the right to provoke and the right to offend. In the absence of these, there is no debate and without debate there is no clarity. But we seem to be regressing in this area,” said Shankar, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Star India.

Shankar said the industry was “capable of creating employment and wealth much faster than most other sectors and with the ability to be a force multiplier, like it is in most countries”. The $15-billion media and entertainment industry employs as many as six million people, he added.

The 14th edition of FICCI FRAMES, the foremost business gathering in the media and entertainment sector that brings the media and entertainment industry and policy makers on a single platform, adopted this year’s theme as ‘Engaging a Billion Consumers’.

“In business and creative terms, the Indian media and entertainment sector still remains much smaller than it should be in a country of 1.2 billion people,” said Shankar, adding that “our collective and individual ambitions should be taking wings around this big opportunity”.

Highlighting other challenges that need to be addressed to unlock the industry’s growth potential, Shankar said: “The lens often used to look at this industry is largely one of glamour and propaganda and the biggest debate is on how to control and contain it. As a result, the growth of M&E has not been supported by policy and regulatory initiatives.”

He said the M&E industry, particularly in India, can be an employment generator without massive public investments and without being hampered by the deficiencies of public infrastructure.

“Why would you not nourish an industry which has the potential to become a huge employer? Why would you not fuel an industry that can grow with more policy support than resource support?” he asked, referring to the government’s decision to double customs duty on import of set-top boxes in the union budget for 2012-13.

“Instead of giving fiscal support to digitalization which can unlock huge economic value, there is an imposition of additional customs duties on set-top boxes. The time has come for all of us to make sure that it is not just industry status that we seek, but a fundamental change in mindset, ”Shankar said.

He also pointed out that the media and entertainment sector lacked reliable data to measure audience response across verticals. He made a call for action by the industry.

“Numbers are supposed to be the foundations of rational business decisions. But how can we make decisions when professionals in the business of numbers can’t get their numbers straight?” he asked the audience.

“The lack of reliable data is not limited to TAMs (Technology Acceptance Models). In fact, as a TV executive, I am surprised sometimes how I am even able to function. I do not know enough about my viewers – in fact I don’t even know how many of them are there.

“There are 140 million cable and satellite homes but the measured universe is 62 million households. The country’s premier media agencies can’t even seem to agree on a fact as basic as the size of the advertising market.”

Warning that the industry was facing an imminent talent crunch, Shankar said: “We hide under the pretense of creativity and have convinced ourselves that creativity gives us the license to be informal and chaotic.

“It is this informality and chaos that has seeped into our approach to spotting and grooming talent. This is dangerous. We must realize that discipline and formality are not antithetical to creativity and if anything they are necessary ingredients to fostering the creative process.”

Stating that the industry has a real crisis on both supply and quality sides, he said: “While it is not unique to the Media and Entertainment sector, what is different is the lack of recognition of the scale of the challenge. While other fast growing sectors like IT and financial services are actively working to find the right talent and building the right skills, we, as a community are complacent in our belief that this sector is different.”

Elaborating further, Shankar said: “In the last 10 years,there has been a manifold increase in the content we have produced, the number of channels, the number of newspapers, the number of radio stations, and the number of films –but there is not even a nominal increase in the number of quality training institutions to support this kind of growth. Fly-by-night training shops have mushroomed,making the problem even worse.”


There is no Future for Normal Companies: Rajesh Sawhney

admin   February 12, 2018

Rajesh Sawhney is the founder of GSF Accelerator, India’s first multi-city Tech Accelerator, backed by 20 iconic digital founders and 5 leading venture funds from across the world. Rajesh is also the founder of GSF Superangels network and curator of the Global Superangels Forum. He is the co-host and curator of Founders Forum India. Rajesh has made over 15 investments as an active and engaged angel investor.

Bangalore is vibrant and has a technology edge, NCR region around Delhi is driving so many e-commerce and education startups, Mumbai is slowly emerging as the digital media and Fin-tech eco-system.

His journey has been a continuum of re-invention waves. In the first wave, he brought private radio (Times FM) to India in early nineties, and redefined Indian youth culture. In his second wave, he was at the cusp of early Internet culture in India and built Indiatimes.com, the most valuable Internet business in India in 2005 (funded by Sequoia). In the third wave, Rajesh was at the centre of a massive transformation of the Indian film industry, where he oversaw (as President, Reliance Entertainment) the corporatization of mom and pop Bollywood businesses into multi-billion dollar enterprise. At Reliance, Rajesh found himself at the centre of cross-border investment and alignment between Hollywood and Indian Film Industry and one of the biggest investment deals (DreamWorks) in Hollywood.

Currently in his fourth wave, Rajesh is building the vital building blocks of a nascent early stage startup ecosystem in India, and sees this as the biggest and most exciting challenge that he has faced in his life. Pickle chats with Rajesh Sawhney, founder of Global Superangels Forum.

Why do you say your current re-invention wave (Startup ecosystem) is the biggest and the most exciting challenge in your career?

Technology is setting a relentless pace of change. Startups are driving this change across the world. They are the new frontiers of innovation. India has a chance to play a big role, but faces enormous challenges: Risk aversion to failure, lack of capital and not thinking big. I am excited to accept this challenge. I am building a startup platform, GSF, that gives opportunities to startups that their counter-parts in the developed world enjoy.

The key objective of Global Superangels Forum (GSF) is to spur innovation and entrepreneurship through angel and seed investing. How has this worked and do you see change reflecting in reality? You have made a major effort in bringing mentors in single window?

GSF has funded 25 startups in the last one year. In addition to that, 30 super-smart EIRs (Entrepreneurs in Residence) have also worked with GSF. 250 mentors from across the world are associated with us, out of which 200 are co-founders of VC backed startups.

I am extremely happy with the rapid progress GSF has made as a startup platform. GSF Accelerator Programme is not only the biggest, but also the widest with presence in NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai. I am humbled by the response of the startup community and support of my peers through this exciting first year.

What is the blue sky difference between Indian start up culture and what we see in Silicon Valley? Do you see this bridge getting closer?

GSF has a global presence to work with startups.

The biggest difference is the attitude to failure. Most startups fail across the world. Failure is celebrated in the Silicon Valley. In India, our cultural norms don’t accept failure easily. However, this attitude is changing gradually. I’ve met many young and bright people of late who have left their cushy jobs for a life in startups. This suggests that some of these new young founders are ready to take a plunge without worrying too much about failing.

We have three global tie-ups so far; one with MIT, the second with 500 startups in Silicon Valley and the third with Seedcamp from Europe. These unique tie-ups make us distinct as we are in a position to provide global springboards to our startups.

You have said that there is no reason why Indian entrepreneurs cannot create the next Instagram, or the next Twitter. What makes you so optimistic? For sure it has happened as idea of Twitter stemmed out of a conference.

Absolutely. Internet democratizes the opportunity. We have both the entrepreneurial and technology talent, though we lack behind the world in Design. Secondly, we don’t take enough chances and big risks. This world belongs to people who take a different path. There is no future for normal people and normal companies. A spectacular failure is a better option than an ordinary life.

Many also say innovation doesn’t require big technology. Is it correct? What according to you are basic ingredients of today’s startup in India?

Technology is a key driver of innovation, though not the only one. In India, we see more of business model innovation, which many people refer to as frugal innovation. But the combination of frugal innovation and technology innovation is potentially lethal. In fact that is the big Indian opportunity.

When I look at a startup for investment, I am looking for founders who are passionate and dreamers with a vision to change the world. I also respect and backfounders who build great products and have an eye for details. And yes, it helps if they are chasing a big market opportunity.

MIT Technology Review has listed Bangalore as among the top innovation clusters. What is your view? You operate in multi-cities of India and also the world.

In India, we have three primary startup eco-systems, each has a different characteristic; Bangalore is vibrant and has a technology edge, NCR region around Delhi is driving so many e-commerce and education startups, Mumbai is slowly emerging as the digital media and Fin-tech eco-system.

There hasn’t been too much disruptions from Indian startups — in the digital space? Do you see it coming?

Mobile is the biggest disruptor in the making. It has already changed the way Indians communicate, consume content and do shopping. I am super excited about the rise of smart phones and evolution of 3G and 4G networks. Together, they will bring 500 million new Internet users online in India. That’s huge.

You have pioneered the Time FM, Internet culture, films space and now building start up ecosystem in India. How do you see this decade different from the past decade?

I believe in disruptions. I like them. I thrive on them. Change is the only constant for me. Future is exciting and I see many many disruptions in the making. Some of them are extremely transformative and will provide huge opportunity for innovation.

Last decade was equally exciting: it saw the evolution of media industries from small mom and pop businesses to well run corporate entities; it saw the evolution of mobile as a transformative change in communication landscape, and finally Indian youth and middle class has changed and evolved as a powerful force. But we ain’t seen nothing yet!

What is more … availability of money for startups or too many ideas from startups?

Contrary to the popular belief, we don’t have too many startups in India. China has ten times more startups than India. Even Israel has more startups than India. We need to pick up pace in startup formation.

We also have shortage of Angel and seed money in India. In the US, Angel and seed financing equals venture financing…each is about USD 23B a year. In India, the quantum of seed financing is 1/20 of venture financing. We need more capital to spur innovation at an early stage.

GSF operates without the help of Government and has not sought any support. Is there anything that the government can do to propel growth in startups?

Government has a big role to play in building capacity and infrastructure where startups can thrive. Governments across the world, be it UK, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, China or Singapore have understood the need to build startup cultures. They need startups to rejuvenate their economies, spur innovation and create jobs. In India, Government has lagged behind in its understanding and efforts. I will be happy to work with Governmental agencies.


Technology has Democratised Content Creation

admin   February 12, 2018

VIACOM-18 MEDIA – THE GREAT SURGE – Now in its 10th year, Viacom18 Media has grown more than 40 times since its inception, operating 42 channels and 9 regional feeds with over a dozen beaming content outside India. Raring to go further, Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO, Viacom18 Media Pvt Ltd, shares his thoughts on how M&E space is getting transformed as he plans to become an agent of change that redefines the entertainment ecosystem in the country.

Viacom18 Media has completed an eventful decade in Indian M&E space. How Group CEO Sudhanshu Vats is looking forward to surprise viewers and competitors with the ‘content-first’ approach

Viacom18 Media is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. How has been the journey so far?

Viacom18 has built a distinctive identity for itself through its strong focus on engaging and disruptive stories. This “content-first” approach is in synergy with our broadcast and digital business lines, and together, films, broadcast and digital form the bouquet of content entertainment that Viacom18 offers its consumers across all age groups. Then there is the sensory bouquet with experiential entertainment and merchandising businesses that complete the entire entertainment ecosystem that the network offers to it consumers.

The business philosophy that drives the organisation is that we want to be an agent of change that redefines the entertainment ecosystem in this country. After 10 years, five lines of businesses, innumerable brands, leadership positions across almost all categories and a good network reach, the journey till now is just a warm-up lap of an exciting future.

From being an outsider to the M&E industry in 2012, you are now well established in the M&E space? How challenging is to get embraced by the M&E sector in India?

There are two similar core thoughts that drive both the FMCG and M&E industry – your product/service is the most definitive ingredient to your brand success and the consumer understanding is the key to your success.

However, unlike FMCG which is a mature sector, media is young and is seeing newer genres emerge. Media’s inclination to be entrepreneurial, and hence be more gut-driven than data driven was also an interesting difference that I considered when I moved to Viacom18. In all honesty, I was anticipating all this. I knew what I had opted for and it was an exciting challenge for me. I must also add that the pace at which M&E operates is truly mind-boggling.

That said, I think the very definition of the media and entertainment industry is changing rapidly. Technology has democratised content creation and is redefining distribution. As technology companies are making forays into premium content, especially premium video content, our industry will have to leapfrog a growth phase or two. In a connected world, mining consumer data, interpreting them as consumer preferences and using these insights to drive consumer offerings, is becoming the new norm.

Women empowerment, skills and collaborative approach are top on the Viacom18 Media’s priority list and differentiate it from others. What are your thoughts on these issues?

Being a JV has its advantages! Collaboration is a natural outcome of it – and this is evinced both internally and externally. That, and building a culture that values innovation, even if it sometimes leads to failures, has driven us to create a vibe that is quite unique. Our hope is that this culture is a key magnet to attract topnotch talent – which further fuels our growth – setting in motion a winning cycle.

Women empowerment is one of the many causes we support socially, but is perhaps one of our most visible attributes. Viacom18 prides itself on being a network with a humane purpose.Our reach and influence on our consumers also puts a responsibility on us – to use the influence to bring about positive societal change.

In a very short time, Viacom18 Media has produced more than half-a-dozen businesses and leaders in various business verticals and looks further to grow stronger. The depth is visible and there is something for all viewers across the country?As the Group CEO how do you see this going forward?

As compared to our own popular channels,Viacom18 is still a young brand. MTV has been in India for 20 years; Nick was launched around the start of the millennium, VH1 in 2006 and Colours in 2008. Not only have we grown more than 40X in the last 9 years, we also operate 42 channels and 9 regional feeds, with over a dozen beaming our content outside India. In addition to a fast-growing broadcast business, we also have a profitable films business known for its distinctive content, including our latest Toilet Ek Prem Katha. We launched our live events business around three years ago and it has several iconic IPs, including Vh1 Supersonic. Last year, we added the video OTT offering VOOT, which is now ranked among the top streaming apps in the country and showcases our future-readiness. As a network, we now operate a profitable set of brands across businesses and we only see this growing further in the years to come. As the Group CEO, I believe my number one priority is to build a Viacom18 that is admired by one and all and is future-ready. In my mind, this is a goal worth pursuing. We’ve started our journey and are committed to it.

Viacom18 Media’s new kid on the block VOOT won IBC’s innovation award in content distribution? How significant was this honour for the company?

VOOT, which launched in 2016, currently hosts over 40,000 hours of content with over 25 million monthly active users.

Winning the IBC2017 Innovation Award for Content Distribution was a huge honour for everyone at Viacom18. We are known for our content business, but to have our company feature on the global technology leader board, was a major acclaim for everyone involved. I’ve said before that the media landscape is changing rapidly and the marriage of gut and insight will be crucial in this new paradigm. Kudos to the team for delivering the innovation in partnership with Google.

COLORS TV channel continues to be the major growth driver for the group? What are your views on the channel’s success?

There is always more room to grow. While COLORS is doing well, we will continue to do more by developing other sub-genres within our general entertainment network. As we grow our portfolio, we will continue to reduce our dependence on Colors. From an ad-sales perspective, our reliance on our flagship offering Colors Hindi is expected to drop from about 4/5th in FY12 to almost half in FY18. Our Kannada channel, from its ETV acquisition in 2012, has moved up from fourth position to the top in the last three years. Today, the channel has 36 per cent market share of the Rs 600-crore Kannada market, growing at over 12-13 per cent annually. We also launched a second Kannada GEC in HD in 2016 and will continue to focus on growing our regional bouquet. India is a macrocosm of many ‘Indias’ and this is evident in the differing entertainment tastes of the various regions of India. In such a scenario, regional is big focus are for us. We will be soon launching our 7th regional offering in Tamil Nadu.

The NDA government led by PM Narendra Modi has completed three years in Office. Do you see visible changes reflect in the M&E sector specifically from the policy and ease of doing business perspective?

The industry is extremely pleased with the proactive, consultative approach of the government. It has set the ball rolling on regulations that have been around frozen for way to long.The government has showcased its commitment to alter the status quo through various industry altering changes. Reform measures such as demonetization and GST augur well for the long-term health of the economy. I have always maintained that as an industry, we have a lot to gain from an economy that is buoyant in the aggregate sense rather than reforms aimed only at our sector. In fact, I must add that the manner and scale at which this government has attempted behavioural change campaigns around Swachch Bharat – we have a lot to learn!

What are the three or four areas that you think M&E needs attention that would further propel growth?

The M&E industry while on a steep growth trajectory can further propel growth by focusing on:

Disintermediation as a business reality and the need to prepare ourselves for a direct to consumer offering and one with direct access to talent if we are to succeed

The need to view technology and data as a potent currency that can revolutionize our success rates and monetization

We need to be able to attract top talent in storytelling, technology and analytics if we are to succeed in the next 4-5 years

Finally, we need to experiment more across the board- in the way we tell stories, the kind of stories we tell, the formats we look at, the people we attract… There’s a lot that is happening but more can be done.

The Indian M&E industry has set an ambitious target to reach $100 billion from the current $20 billion over the next five years. You also head Confederation of Indian Industry’s National M&E Committee? Do you see this happening? What are the challenges of achieving this?

The industry is witnessing robust growth and the need of the hour is to look at our industry from the perspective of ‘convergence’. This alone will recognize our role as a force multiplier. We will soon see the kind of consolidation being witnessed in the West and the $100 billion target will become an attainable reality. The regulatory framework must pre-empt this and prepare for it. This means ensuring parity across different forms of media so that there is no regulatory arbitrage. There is also the need for freedom to price services which will unleash the industry further and equip us to compete with the best in the world. A lighter approach towards regulation, where market forces play and even greater role will also help all players in the value chain compete on the basis of efficiency. Given the way Jio has disrupted the telecom market in India, I see the demand for M&E content only going up – making the 100 Bn USD an achievable milestone –as long as we get our monetisation models right.

As you have been the proponent of ‘Make in India, Show the World’ tagline, do you see India emerge as a digital hub for the world?

For me ‘Make in India’ is about encouraging youth in India and opening up avenues to become enablers and entrepreneurs. This program has in fact placed the global spotlight on India’s economic potential. In this regards also the M&E Industry can be a huge accelerator, in 2016 we employed nearly 5mn people. We would need to double this workforce in the next 5-7 years. Hence we need to plan from today to make those investments in the talent pipeline. This includes talent from the creative, technical and management spheres. The industry needs to collaborate more with educational institutions, the government needs to facilitate these partnerships and parents and teachers need to create awareness and nurture interest in design, technology and creative skills at the level of primary education. At our own level, we have attempted to bring entrepreneurship in the mainstream conversation with our show MTV Dropout.

Finally, disruptions continue to hit legacy M&E industry. But there are very few entrepreneurial disruptions in the Indian media space. Your comments?

I see your point at one level, but don’t agree with it in entirety at another. On the content side, we have seen significant disruptions with independent creators taking to digital and then entering the mainstream. I see our industry’s role as one which is able to leverage this talent and offer a larger canvas for them to play with. On the distribution side, we have seen the entry of a new telco fuelled by entrepreneurial passion of a different order. I believe that in the next few years they will be able to spawn an ecosystem full of innovators working towards both, incremental innovations and those at scale. As the industry becomes even more consumer-focused, the scope for disruption will only increase.

Which one book has influenced you the most?

It’s tough for me to single out any one book. I enjoy reading and several books and authors have influenced me over the years. I will take the liberty of sharing a few books that I think are a must-read for most individuals – Tuesdays with Mory, Tipping Point and The Second Machine Age.

What is your idea of real happiness?

That’s an interesting question. My notion of happiness has evolved over the years. To my mind, ‘real happiness’ is an inner state. Simply put, happiness is a choice. Nothing can keep it from you if you choose to be happy. I have also found that acts of generosity and giving – however simple or small – always dial-up happiness.

Viacom18- Milestones

1997

MTV India launched

2005

Viacom reintroduces Nickelodeon to the Indian Market

MTV launches VH1 as an English Music Channel

2007

Viacom Inc and Network18 Group ink JV

2008

Colors launched with 83 GRPs within Week 1. Ranked #3 on first ratings post debut

Colors ranks #1 within 9 months of launch, beating News Corp’s India channel Star Plus

2009

Ancillary businesses Digital media and Consumer Products gather steam

2010

Films Business Studio18 roped in

2011

24 hour English Entertainment channel, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon’s entertainment channel for teenage kids, SONIC launched Studio18 renamed Viacom18 Motion Pictures

2012

Viacom18 forms organic distribution company- IndiaCast Media Distribution Private Ltd

Launch of Nickelodeon kids channel for 4-12 year olds, Nick Jr launched Initiated acquisition of regional channels- ETV Gujarati, ETV Marathi, ETV Kannada, ETV Oriya and ETV Bangla

2013

New line of business, Integrated Network Solutions (INS) launched Viacom18 turns profitable- records PAT for the first time as a network Rebranding of regional channels. Revenue starts kicking in from the regional cluster

2014

COLORS’ petal general entertainment Free-To-Air channel, Rishtey launched in India

MTV India’s co-branded Indie channel, MTV Indies launched

2015

Colors Infinity launches

2016

Launch of VOOT

Launch of Rishtey Cineplex

Launch of second Kannada GECCOLORS Super

Launch of MTV Beats

Vh1 Refresh- new logo and programming refresh

2017

Announcement of Colors Tamil launch


The Power of Indian Content

admin   February 4, 2018

The future clearly is digital and niche is new mass, delivering to a mobile first generation can only be achieved through development that is data and analytics driven. Tracing the journey of Indian content across the world, Dinesh Gupta, Founder & Managing Director of Sacom Mediaworks, underscores the strength of India’s biggest global export, the crucial role played by Indian broadcast majors in popularising it and the market impact quality entertainment content from India has had on global viewers.

The 2010 Munich International Film Festival screened an Indian movie Ishqiya to much critical and popular acclaim. The song that left everyone humming its tune was named after a famous Morrocan scholastic traveller, Ibn Batuta. While the real Ibn landed in India somewhere around the early 1300s and was made a judge in Muhammad Bin Tughlaq’s court in Delhi, the song celebrates the travails of two vagabonds in modern day hinterland India.

And just as Ibn’s famous treatise The Travels internationalised stories from across the lands he had travelled, including India; so had the road movie of two down and out Indian vagabonds found favour with international audiences across the globe. Readers and listeners alike, welcome to India’s biggest global export: entertainment.

GLOBALISATION OF INDIAN CONTENT

The Indian media and entertainment industry may not be the largest but it clearly is among the fastest growing globally. The Confederation of Indian Industry estimates the Indian M&E industry will break the US$ 100 billion barrier in the next 5-7 years. The commercial exploitation of modern Indian content can be traced back to the early 1980s when two iconic Hollywood productions globalised Indian stories – Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi and David Lean’s cinematic adaptation of E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India. Since then India has exported stories, actors, characters and locales to global movie studios. Filmed Entertainment, indeed, has been at the forefront of leading the thrust of globalising Indian content.

The next wave came when the Indian broadcast majors – Star, Zee, Viacom18 and Sony – launched channels in the overseas markets of Europe, the Americas, APAC and MENA. What started with replaying Indian shows to the desi diaspora abroad, now has a fair amount of localisation as well. The advent of Internet and Over the Top video on demand services is the latest avenue that is helping globalise Indian content. While from the consumer’s POV the number of platforms carrying Indian content has multiplied, from a business perspective, television still remains the highest earning platform, followed by films. Digital, the new kid on the block, is helping both democratise Indian content and also expand its reach; it still has a few years to becoming a serious revenue contributor though.

MAJOR PLAYERS ‘GLOCALISING’ INDIAN CONTENT

Over the years, revenues from International markets have become more and more serious. This started as early as the 1950s when Raj Kapoor led the wave by breaking into erstwhile USSR with titles like Awaara and Shri 420 by becoming a symbol of optimism in the post-world war II. Subhash Chandra-led Zee Network can clearly be presumed the pioneers of Indian content in international markets. As he realised the market of Indian content grow, ‘glocalising’ content became Zee’s mantra.

Zee launched two dedicated channels in Middle East focused on mainstream Arab audiences showcasing best of Indian film and drama content and established itself as the serious contender in the market. Zee always believed if there was great traction for content syndication in a particular geography, there clearly is a case to launch its own platform there. Today Zee has ‘glocalised’ channels in Middle East, Far East Asia, Germany, Africa, LatAm and (soon to be launched channel in) Poland. With 4200+ film titles and 240,000 hours of content, Zee is clearly the undisputed leader in the domain. Studios like Yash Raj Films and Dharma Productions have built the NRI driven foreign audiences and helped break into markets that were predominantly driven by Indian audiences, Indian ambassadors like Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone, global success for Dangal and Baahubali really helped break stereotype and facilitate a further push into mainstream theatrical markets globally. Today studios like Red Chillies, Eros, Dharma and YRF lead the fi lm syndication space along with the Top 4 TV Networks. Indian dramas however have clearly been the game changers like nothing else.

BREAKING INTO NEW MARKETS WITH QUALITY CONTENT

A fledgling Pay TV and Advertising market in India helped produce better quality dramas in the last decade. Dramas like Balika Vadhu from Colors helped break into markets no one ever thought existed for Indian TV. Markets like Russia, Romania, Estonia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Poland, China, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Mynamar, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Israel, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan and Africa embraced Indian dramas like they were made for them.

So, what is it that really helped penetrate these markets? These markets were never able to produce high quality dramas due to limitation of budgets, lower literacy rates necessitated that the content was dubbed in local languages for it to find an audience. Between the acquisition and dubbing costs and long running tracks Hindi dramas could connect beautifully and keep bringing audiences back for more.

Backdrop of a conservative India and societal constraints depicted could find relatability that helped build a case for a dedicated band for Hindi dramas. Then there were high quality Mythological and VFX driven series like Mahabharat, Mahadev and Nagin that helped further strengthen leadership of Indian dramas and viewership of these bands to the next level. Surprisingly, Hindi dramas today can break into a lot more markets than what our films are able to reach.

THE FUTURE IS MOBILE FIRST

The future clearly is digital and niche is new mass, delivering to a mobile fi rst generation can only be achieved through development that is data and analytics driven. Whether it means delivering linear channels on IPTV (or) SVOD apps that showcase Indian content, or Appin- app models (or) bundling/ Pay-per-view with Telcos, content is constantly getting redefined every day. There seems to be a far clearer definition on what belongs on Television, what belongs on SVOD platforms and what can be addressed through YouTube and Facebook. More and more original content is being developed to address each of these platforms.

Uday Shankar-led Star India is taking unprecedented steps with building India’s top OTT in Hotstar and taking it to global markets to showcase its originals and acquired content delivered through SVOD, IPTV and app-in-app formats. Adding cricket-led sports programming on Hotstar is going to be a big game changer for Star Network as this will open it up to sports pay per view and attract audiences from Indian subcontinent in global markets.

OTTs like Viu, Spuul, YuppTV, Zee’s Z5 clearly understand the next big content monetisation will be driven by data and smart devices. Hence these platforms have been constantly working to align with Telecom companies globally to build their monetisation potential. Carrier billing for OTT apps is clearly a latent potential that is waiting to explode in international markets. Today, MENA and North America are the biggest opportunities in the domain and growing. Mainstream global OTT platforms are now showcasing a lot more Indian content that can serve their global audiences. Syndication would continue to remain the best way to address emerging markets like Africa, Far East Asia, South Asia & Eastern Europe with a clear focus on dramas. Developed markets are already addressed through platforms bouquets offering Indian Pay TV channels. In these markets SVOD apps, VOD & Pay Per view is winner, with markets like America, Canada and the UK being addressed in this pattern.

Companies like Zee have been prudent enough to evaluate monetisation potential in detail before making major investments. On the other hand, there are certain OTT platforms that are mindlessly investing just to be present in the domain or to simply build an asset with a valuation. It’s vital for each platform to have a very clear indicative on what they stand for and how will they break through the international market. Netflix and Amazon clearly know what they’re doing, Hotstar has also built a credible platform that has great potential in international markets. It’s important not to get carried away in the content wave, simply build platforms, IPs and expect them to deliver.

One of the world’s fastest growing economies is also one heck of an exporter of expats around the globe. This large expat community, glorified as the NRI community through our films, forms the first of the four pillars that form the foundation to exporting Indian content overseas.

A more mature market, this comprises of established pay TV markets like the Americas, the UK and Middle East. The second pillar is the dubbed Indian television content that has consistently opened new markets in over 20+ languages so far. These include geographic regions with comparatively weaker economies but with socio-cultural similarities to India – the African, Far East Asia, CIS Countries and LatAm markets. The third pillar is the digital ecosystem in the more developed markets where OTT Video-on-Demand platforms are comparable to traditional content delivery platforms. The fourth pillar is actually a phenomenon – Indian celebrities, like Priyanka Chopra, who are travelling the globe, creating content and popularizing the pull of Indian entertainment. Together these four pillars provide a robust base to grow the global appeal for Indian content. With all these growing in unison, the Indian Media and Entertainment industry looks well set in its drive to breach the US$ 100 bn barrier in the next half decade with a much bigger global footprint than ever before.

Dinesh is the Founder & MD of Sacom Mediaworks, a content company that creates, markets and distributes Indian content in international markets. Over the past eight years, Sacom has distributed over 5,000 hours of premium Indian entertainment content dubbed in 15+ languages. The company owns four music and entertainment IPs that are currently distributed across 82 countries. Dinesh also co-founded TripFactory.com Dinesh is at MIPCOM and can be reached at dinesh.gupta@sacom.in