Lack of infrastructure hampering growth of live entertainment in India: PwC Ficci report

MUMBAI: The live entertainment industry in India is still evolving. However Indian event managers have shown their capabilities in successfully managing national and international events. On the flip side issues like high entertainment taxes, lack of world class infrastructure and the unorganised nature of a lot of event management companies continue to hinder growth.

These observations were made Pricewaterhouse Coopers in its report The Indian entertainment industry: An Unfolding Opportunity. The report was released at the recently concluded frames convention. Going forward the live entertainment sector is likely to see collaborations with global majors as well as across different constituents of the entertainment industry - film, television music and event managers to maxmise the value of organised events.

The report notes that last year there was change in mindset exhibited towards accepting event management companies. An example was the 35th international Film Festival which was held in Goa. This shows that even government bodies are willing to use event management companies. In addition integration of event management into a marketing plan is growing. Gone are the days where corporates used even management companies for ad hoc promotions or one time product launches. Today they are an integral part of each marketing plan and are also offering advertisers customised annual deals where they secure the advertising rights for events even three to four years in advance.

Compared with advertising on print or on television events tend to influence the target audience on the spot. The conversion rate is much higher and therefore to that extent the re4turn on rupee is also greater. At the same time promoting brands through events is definitely not a replacement for the oprint and electronic medium. It can at best su[pplement the two streams.

The report notes that the success of reality show on television is boosting the live entertainment industry. An example is Indian Idol where live shows saw stars interact with public. Also Who dares Wins from AXN afforded some visibility for the public to appear on the channel. Then there are concerts featuring international stars like Sting, Shaggy, Rolling Stones, Bryan Adams. International events provide opportunities for companies that want association like mobile phones. For instance Nokia made available special ring tones and downloads for the Sting concert.

Another aspect of live entertainment in India which is growing is personal events which get a lot of hype. The Sahara wedding is a great example of this. 20 celebrity weddings took place last year. Each event cost Rs. 20 to Rs. 40 million. Rising income levels provide impetus for growth he4re. These events create an international blitzkrieg of news and wonder,

On the flip side high entertainment taxes continue to be a roadblock. While the Maharashtra government reduced the entertainment tax from 49 per cent to 25 per cent Sting still gave Mumbai the miss. A lot more still needs to be done. A multiplicity of taxes is taxing organisers of live international events. There is a need for rationalization of the entertainment tax rates. The funds saved can be used to organise more events which will generate more revenue for the government.

Another problem is that grounds with a capacity to hold over 2000 people are difficult to find in some of the metros. While hospitality giants like taj, Oberoi are pushing their resorts, banqwuert halls as the mkost desirable venues for such events a lot more infrastructure needs to be made available. Some cities do have sports stadiums. However the lack of facilities in there require event management companies to rebuild infrastructure. This needs longer time period permissions which are usually not available from the management bodies of these stadiums.

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