The future belongs to creator-led franchises: James Murdoch

The former CEO of 21st Century Fox delivered the keynote address at the APOS conference.


New Delhi: Creator-led franchises will be more powerful and more profitable in the years to come if they can take a little more risk and own their IPs, said James Murdoch former chief executive officer of 21st Century Fox and now the founder & CEO of private holding company Lupa Systems.

As the streaming war rages on, Murdoch said it will put a lot of pressure on the content creators, leading to a huge demand for their services in near future. “The real question is what the creative output is going to look like in these conglomerates. There will be more value for creators in the future, not just in terms of selling for a high price and on a work for hire basis,” he detailed while delivering the keynote address at the annual APOS conference which began virtually on Tuesday.

According to Murdoch, author ownership will become common, as more creators would not want to sell their work forever and a day.

Talking about the Indian market, he noted that while some multinationals may be frustrated by bureaucracy or having the wrong local partners, ultimately India is a transparent marketplace, not very top-down but driven by ideas and entrepreneurs, and a consumer economy that is going to grow for a long time.

“I see a lot of opportunities there, especially when you get into towns and villages where distribution revolution is most profound. Digital connectivity will open vast opportunities for society, logistics, education and it is going to be exciting for entrepreneurs as well as customers if done right,” he said. “The broader media sector is continuing to grow, but it is going to be a chaotic and tumultuous few years in terms of how it shapes in India. There is cutthroat competition in down streaming, complexities of legacy distributions, it is a very disaggregated production environment. But it will be interesting.”

The one-time scion exited his family's media empire to found his own holding company Lupa Systems in 2019. Early this year, he announced his new venture along with former chairman & CEO of Star India and president of Walt Disney Company Asia Pacific Uday Shankar, to explore technology and media opportunities in emerging markets.

Highlighting how several big media companies have been seeking to scale to compete in the streaming environment, Murdoch said, the question is not if it's right to scale, but how many of these companies will be more profitable than they were in the past. “Avoiding the loss of value is great, but near survival does not create value. The downstream competition is going to be intense for a long time whether it's Amazon or Netflix. If you try to compete with the mass market, you have to have an amazing user experience and lots of good programming,” he added.

On founding Lupa Systems in 2019, Murdoch said he wanted to explore areas of long-term consequences. “The more exciting opportunity was to do something entrepreneurial with a small team, but also focus on future questions, especially with all legacy businesses adopting digital,” he shared.

Run by the regional consultancy Media Partners Asia, the three-day conference kicked off on Tuesday, with the keynote address by Murdoch. Asia's influential media and entertainment industry conference is traditionally organised in Indonesia, but is being held virtually this year due to pandemic restrictions.

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