IndiaCast’s Govind Shahi Senior Vice President IB&S – UK emphasizes on his mission to introduce distinctive Indian content to a worldwide audience, and to showcase high quality content across diverse genres and forge prosperous partnerships at MIPCOM 2023. A chat with Pickle
What’s IndiaCast’s focus and objective at MIPCOM 2023?
As our tagline suggests, we aspire to introduce our content to a global audience. The aim is to present our distinctive content to potential buyers attending MIPCOM and expand its reach to all corners of the world. We intend to exhibit our high-quality content spanning diverse genres and bolster our sales prospects. Our unwavering focus is on staying at the forefront and cultivating prosperous partnerships. We recognize the substantial demand for Indian content and are committed to advancing this objective.
How do you see the global media landscape changing and what opportunities do you see for IndiaCast?
The media landscape is experiencing rapid transformations, including network consolidations, changing viewership patterns favoring streaming platforms, and the widespread adoption of dynamic, programmatic ad delivery. At IndiaCast, we are strategically adapting to these changes while maintaining our commitment to linear television.
Broadcast TV remains a dominant force in the media landscape. According to BARB data as of August 2023, the average consumer dedicates 143 minutes of their daily viewing time to Broadcast TV out of a total of 238 minutes.
Recognizing the evolving global media landscape, IndiaCast is pro actively exploring opportunities in the FAST (Free Ad-Supported Television) category. We have recently launched our inaugural FAST channel, Desi Play TV, offering a carefully curated selection of premium content from our extensive library. This represents the beginning of an exciting journey into the FAST arena, with several more initiatives in the pipeline. The initial response to our FAST channel has been exceptionally positive.
India’s engagement globally is rapidly changing. Oscar wins, India’s presidency at G20 has brought in a new soft power wave.. Is it reflecting on ground in content spread? What attracts Indian content as a genre in the world today?
Indeed, the demand for content has experienced an unprecedented surge. When 1.4 billion individuals collectively strive for excellence in all their endeavours, it inevitably garners attention. In the realm of content, India stands out with its colossal movie production capabilities, a diverse array of daily soaps spanning numerous regional entertainment genres, distinctive storytelling, and world-class action sequences. Furthermore, this surge benefits the economy and generates thousands of employment opportunities, leaving a profound impact across the globe.
Bringing India to the World is the tagline of IndiaCast? What’s India’s global footprint in content spread… IndiaCast is a major force in making that happen… your views? Has the demand for content from India increasing…Do you see a rise in export of Indian content as a in genre global markets?
Just as our name implies, our mission is to offer the world a gateway to explore the rich tapestry of Indian content. The business of content monetization has been an expanding frontier for us, and we anticipate even greater growth in the years ahead. Our primary focus has been to transform the industry by crafting compelling content that resonates with audiences not only within the Indian market but also on a global scale. Indian content has long been lauded for its extensive coverage of diverse subjects and captivating performances, and this upward trajectory is set to continue. We’ve ventured into selling formats and engaging in co-productions, which has further fuelled the export of our content.
Indian content has found its way into homes where it might not have been accessible otherwise… Every story has a market, and advancements in content delivery, dubbing, and social engagement are reinforcing this notion
Recently IndiaCast has launched on UK’s SkyGlass… How do you see these changes…
We regard these transformations with great optimism. As we shift away from traditional satellite dishes atop houses, the entry barriers to the market diminish. This paves the way for networks like ours to introduce a wider array of language content in this diverse landscape. It also opens up avenues to explore the creation of dubbed channels, further expanding our reach and offerings.
IndiaCast distributes its channels in more than 75 countries across the globe. Additionally, with a rich and extensive product catalogue of over 40,000 hours, IndiaCast syndicates content in 35+ languages across 135 countries
India aims to be a $100 bn M&E sector by 2030. Global markets and content distribution/Syndication are key to achieve this. Your views?
With the world’s attention on India, the global M&E market has never been more thrilling for us.
Indian stories are resonating with a worldwide audience, particularly now that language barriers have been shattered.
Recent successes like “RRR,” “The Elephant Whisperers,” and our own series such as “Naagin” and “Balika Vadhu” exemplify this trend. There’s a growing demand for dubbed content in local markets, and streaming platforms have demonstrated that language is no longer a hindrance. Every story has a market, and advancements in content delivery, dubbing, and social engagement are reinforcing this notion.
Content is now accessible through connected platforms, and discussions around monetization have adapted accordingly. Additionally, our expanding international South Asian community plays a vital role as advocates for Indian content. The release of content in various languages further broadens the market for Indian content. These factors collectively indicate that more platforms and opportunities will emerge for Indian content on a global scale.
We are in challenging times… As International head of global biz for IndiaCast how are you managing challenges in these uncertain times?
In today’s fast-paced world of constantly changing content consumption habits, it’s essential for our network to adapt in sync with market conditions. While our primary goal remains delivering exceptional content, we are exploring cost-effective approaches to achieve this. We are committed to maximizing the reach of our content, especially to untapped audiences, by leveraging new platforms, partnering with the right talent, optimizing our team structures, and streamlining our processes.
The market landscape has shifted towards advertising models, with most pay SVOD services incorporating ad-based models. As part of this shift, we’ve launched Desi Play, our first FAST channel, and we are actively working to capitalize on this trend. To stay on course, we will uphold our core principles of providing top-quality entertainment to our audiences while exploring innovative strategies for monetization and cost reduction. This approach will position us well to navigate the evolving landscape successfully.
Has syndication biz impacted by global ruling of streaming platforms? How do you see this as a thought leader?
The popularity of content streaming is on the rise and has become the preferred way to consume content for many, although not necessarily for all demographic groups. Interestingly, broadcast TV continues to maintain its dominant position. According to BARB data as of August 2023, the average consumer spends 143 minutes per day watching Broadcast TV out of a total viewing time of 238 minutes per day.
We view streaming platform as an additional avenue for content monetization, one that significantly enhances our capabilities . It enables us to offer content in various regions and languages to potentially new and diverse audience groups every day. Given the global appeal of our storylines, we are motivated to syndicate our content across as many platforms as possible. Streaming platforms have introduced an entirely new model for syndication. Rather than being adversely affected, Indian content has found its way into homes where it might not have been accessible otherwise. This has, in turn, generated demand for our content from previously untapped regions.
What are the new emerging markets for Indian content? Tell us some of the content from your catalogue trending across global markets?
We have significantly expanded our presence in various international markets, including Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Eastern Europe. Our drama series have not only gained immense popularity in Asian countries but have also found success in Japan, Africa, the Middle East, and Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Additionally, we are experiencing a growing interest from emerging markets such as Russia, smaller African nations, European countries, Portugal, Brazil, Japan, the Caribbean, and Korea. These regions represent new and emerging territories for us, with a rising demand for our content.
Understanding trends can be challenging, as different regions have varying preferences. In the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, our long-running mythology, historical, and romantic thrillers have been well-received. On the other hand, in CEE, CIS, and Africa, the focus is more on social and family-oriented dramas, as well as romantic thrillers. It’s worth noting that our standout shows, “Balika Vadhu,”, “Naagin S6”, “Barrister Babu”, “Choti Sarrdaarni”, “Ram Siya Ke Luv Kush, Silsila”, “Udaariyaan” and “Parineetii” continue to enjoy global popularity and high demand.
How do you feel when you get Indian content expand to new emerging markets?
Share an example from your experience. Indian content has consistently enjoyed significant popularity in emerging markets, such as Indonesia, where there’s a strong demand, often leading to pre-purchase agreements. Similarly, in countries like South Africa, Nigeria, Malaysia, and Eastern Europe, our content gains substantial viewership after being localized. For instance, Naagin 5’s remarkable success includes winning the title of “Most Popular TV Series” at the 9th Blue Star Awards in Vietnam, with the lead actors also securing “Best Actor” and “Best Actress” accolades. These achievements serve as a testament to our enduring and profound connection with our audiences.
What’s your take on FAST Channels… does it contribute as third or fourth window for content catalogues?
The burgeoning FAST (Free Ad-Supported Television) trend is undeniably fascinating. While platforms like Pluto and others are delivering promising results, content owners are grappling with content discovery challenges in a fiercely competitive landscape.
It’s crucial to scrutinize how much content owners are truly benefiting from this trend, as every viewer’s attention is being monetized. This space is poised for its own cycle of evolution. From our network’s perspective, FAST channels like Desi Play TV offer an excellent avenue to monetize our extensive content library.
The surge in viewership has provided valuable insights into our content’s potential, enabling us to craft tailored programs for our audience. FAST is also instrumental in our efforts to combat piracy and penetrate markets with high entry costs. Moreover, it’s becoming a viable medium not only to reach second and third generation South Asians but also the broader market. While we’re currently utilizing library content, we have plans to introduce original content in the near future.
The successful business models data/analytics driven for decision making? How much of analytics and AI is deployed for business results at IndiaCast?
Our decision-making process is underpinned by a robust research and monitoring framework, with key choices informed by the insights derived from these analytical endeavors.
Presently, we are in the initial stages of delving into AI, with its application primarily concentrated on marketing and content customization initiatives.
Finally, what are the three things as biz leader you want to achieve at MIPCOM Cannes 2023?
Advocate vigorously for Indian content on the global stage. Gain insights into global syndication trends and partner expectations, particularly with our expanding roster of tech companies. Seeking opportunities to collaborate with industry leaders and engage with old acquaintances for valuable idea exchange.