Revenues for content providers are coming from more places now: Kaplan

MUMBAI: Content providers have a wide array of opportunities to tap revenues from as multiple screens emerge and compete, particularly in the advanced markets.

"Revenues are coming from more places. More windows are opening, ensuring that there are more hours of content to sell," said Sony Pictures Television Worldwide Networks Andrew J Kaplan.

The marketplace is becoming more complex and secondary revenue streams (Netflix and Hulu) are emerging stronger. "This means that there is a bit of a challenge on the infrastructure side. We need to be experts and understand the businesses of different distribution systems. It is a much more complicated world now. There is chaos and, hence, an opportunity," Kaplan said, while speaking at Ficci Frames 2013.

In terms of genres, Kaplan noted that while American drama travels well globally, comedy does not -- especially in non English speaking markets. “Some comedy shows that work overseas rely on physical humour. In India, we have Sab which has done well.”
In terms of SPT channels globally, Kaplan noted that Sony offers American shows. “We buy from our own studio and other studios as well. The aim is to maximise the audience and ratings. As the reach of our channels have grown, we have become a more important buyer globally.”

Kaplan also spoke about the action oriented channel AXN, saying that the challenge is to balance global with local content. “AXN is different in Thailand and Portugal. That is partly because certain rights are available in certain markets and also because audience tastes are different. Not everything will work equally well everywhere. We also have local shows because that drives in higher ratings. People like to look in the mirror and their want to see their neighbourhood.”

He spoke about global co-productions ‘The Firm’, ‘Hannibal’ and ‘Crossing lines that SPT is engaged in. “The aim is to get a different creative input so that the content is more applicable to our networks."

One challenge for a channel like AXN is to retain a uniform character for it globally. What it makes it tough is that there is no flagship channel for Sony in the US. “So we create channels on a market-to-market basis using a lot of research. While we balance global content with local shows, there has to be sanctity in terms of what the brand represents. Our local management teams are passionate about their markets. We have a lot of discussion about what will work the best. Usually we get right. Sometimes we stray. Then we have to pull things back in line,” said Kaplan.

He also spoke about new media saying that Crackle, Sony‘s online platform in the US, relies on advertising as opposed to other platforms like Hulu which are subscription driven. “I am still trying to figure out if we are smart or stupid in relying on advertising. The advertiser’s response has been solid. We target males 18-49 which is a hard demographic to reach. What helps us is that advertisers want to be in the digital space.”

The aim of Crackle is to supplement traditional television viewing and not cannibalise it. "Crackle launched in Latin America last year. That is because broadband penetration there is high. Also SPT has a strong ad sales team there. The next phase of evolution for Crackle is creating local content, which it is doing more of. Netflix is also doing this. The advantage of local content is that we can do product and environment integration with advertisers,” Kaplan said.

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