Thursday, March 26, 2015

“Glocally” Relevant’ at the FICCI FRAMES 2015

Staying ‘glocally’ relevant in the broadcast space

MUMBAI, 25 March 2015: How to stay “glocally” relevant was the theme at a panel discussion titled ‘Retooling Content to Stay “Glocally” Relevant’ at the FICCI FRAMES 2015 convention today. The discussion, moderated by Ms Vanita Kohli Khandekar, media analyst, author and columnist, had as its participants Ms Myleeta Aga, SVP and GM India and Content Head Asia, BBC Worldwide; Mr Gaurav Banerjee, GM, Star Plus & Life OK; Mr Sameer Nair, Group CEO, Balaji Telefilms;Mr Pradeep Hejmadi, Business Head, Zee TV; Mr Tarun Katial, CEO, Reliance Broadcast; and Mr Vijay Subramanium, Vice President and Head, Content & Communication, Media Channels, Disney India.

Ms Kohli opened the discussion by observing that at least seven to 10 large broadcasters control the major share of the broadcast space. The market is growing, and audiences are watching varied programmes. “How is the audience coping?” she asked the panellists as she sought their views.

Mr Subramanium felt that the present times are exciting from the consumer’s standpoint. From the service provider’s view, it is interesting to see how those needs can be met. His company feels that technology is a friend, and he cited the case of the recent new Mickey Mouse shots for their global initiative. In India, instead of holding a grand premiere, they put up the content on Facebook; that doubled their channel and slot ratings. “We at Disney are innovating to serve consumers,” he concluded.

Ms Aga informed the house that BBC Worldwide has been looking at different marketing and technical strategies based on what the content is and what the market requires. Every country has a different market strategy. “Not one formula fits all,” was her take. Mr Katial agreed that the consumer is at the centre. “Until you have great consumer insight you won’t get anywhere.” But he felt that the industry is not doing enough. “We’ve got to stop, and start;” he said, noting that the smaller players can afford to look at things differently. That is how his channel operates.

Mr Banerjee was of the opinion that today, content providers have more ambition. About five years ago, stories were confined to household and kitchen politics. Today, that is changing. Another change is that broadcasters are willing to spend more money. “I don’t think enough research was being done in the past, but that is beginning to happen.” But what hasn’t changed is the importance of storytelling. Television in India has a reach that is greater than that of any big film with a major cast. “That is a great responsibility. It is the pressure to continue to create shows that inspires.” He strongly felt that research will allow content to get better. He called upon the industry to shed its fear of failure. Mr Nair agreed that TV content in India is not good enough; this could be because content changes slowly. Producers are not willing to trash existing content because it has grown in the market. “When the market reaches a critical mass, not everyone wants to see the same thing and economics dictates everything.” 

Mr Hejmadi felt that broadcasters may or may not be ready to part with IP. They anyway have to put in a lot of intellectual input to create content. “Hence they don’t see the need to part with IP.” Ms Aga agreed, saying that producers do not want to invest in developing the idea. “We are habituated to going to broadcasters without enough content,” she said. Mr Nair also felt that IP is over-rated and there is no point in getting over excited. “It is about risk and reward, there is no big upside.” Mr Katial disclosed that they see themselves as “hiring out a line producer to execute on our set.” All panellists agreed that producers and broadcasters should experiment more and take more risks.

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