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"The goal is to create a $100 million IP company": GoQuest’s Vivek Lath

The firm is trying to push Indian content on the global stage.

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Goquest Media is an independent distributor of global entertainment content offering a broad portfolio of international television series, scripted formats, factual content and films. Supplementing its portfolio of Indian content with key acquisitions from Europe, GoQuest Media is looking to serve the scripted needs of buyers across the globe.

The Indian OTT space is booming, with platforms clamouring to raise the bar in local scripted content. According to GoQuest Media, this new age of premium Indian drama is creating a wealth of opportunities. In the long run the company is looking at becoming a global content agency. The firm’s primary vision is to promote India on a global stage and also expand their footprint in the global market. The company recently landed the distribution rights to two original series from OTT platform MX Player, Ek Thi Begum (The Mafia Queen) and Queen.

In a special interaction with indiantelevision.com GoQuest founder and MD Vivek Lath spoke at length about Indian and international content market, his plan going forward and much more.

How huge is the Indian market for GoQuest in terms of storytelling and content?

Indian market is a pretty big market for GoQuest overall. We have been in touch with all the local OTT platforms for selling content which is dubbed in Hindi or in local languages. Most of the content that we are talking about comes from outside India. There is a large amount of transaction that has been going around remake rights or adaptation rights of international shows and films into India. Indian market is growing every year and slowly as more consumers demand more content, there will also be more demand for ready content coming outside India which would be plugged into the system here.

So, GoQuest is looking at building a major distribution/production company out of India. What's your vision.

The vision is to ultimately build up a very strong content monetisation company across various platforms and mediums. We are currently sitting between production, consumer facing platforms. Our services are essentially limited to the montisation part. Right now, we want to vertically move towards the production side of the business. In the coming two to three  years we will also enter the consumer side of the business and become a consumer entertainment brand. The goal is to create a 100 million-dollar IP company out of India, which is not only producing content but a holding company of very large and good IPs. The vision is creating a gamut of entertainment services including production, consumer driven business and distribution. We are also planning to create financial products around entertainment. The focus is to become an end to end entertainment media conglomerate.

GoQuest has appointed people overseas and it is trying to become India’s global agency. Can you elaborate more on this.

We will continue to hire people outside India. Most of the people that we are hiring overseas are from the business development and partnership side. Paula, who is a Keshet alum, is based in Tel Aviv and manages businesses in Europe and US. Harshad,who is in Vietnam manages South East Asia and East Asia. From a sales reach point of view, it is important for us to put these offices in place, if we have to expand our business. GoQuest will continue to hire leaders in those regions. We have also onboarded consultants who help us with partnerships and outreach. All in all a mix of full time and part time employees. We have a team of 5 outside India and 48 within India

Are you looking at becoming a specialist in this field?

We are specialists in this field. We are the only company out of India, which does the kind of licensing business . GoQuest doesn’t have a direct competition in India as of now. We will continue to build in this niche, that is where we stand out. We are picking up more and more fiction stories from across the world. Our immediate goal is to build a strong fiction distribution pipeline . Pushing India to the global stage is something we are keen on. One of our goals is to push Indian content, especially the one made for the OTT players on par with the other global content that is there in the market

How are you planning to utilise Queen and Ek Thi Begum considering Queen has recently come on Zee as well.

Well our arrangement with MX Player is largely for distributing the show internationally. We don’t hold the rights for India. But internationally we do, and we have already started many conversations there. OTT players with in India are already licensing shows to each other and to tv broadcast. Our battleground will be to mount the shows outside India

What is the cost of licensing?

We act as pure play service providers distributing content in the international market. As far as Licensing is concerned, the spectrum goes anywhere between $500 per episode in a small market to $5000 in a large market. There is no fixed benchmark, it completely depends on the market and different territories. It also depends upon the quality and story of the show.

Do you also have TV distribution rights for Queen? Also, OTT contents are now going to TV. Do you think it is viable?

We have all the distribution rights for Queen on both OTT and TV, for the international market. According to me OTT content going to TV is a viable position. At the end it is all about who is the audience what is the audience overlap between TV and OTT. I think it is good for different companies, mediums and platforms to share the cost of content in a way. Because production costs are shooting up and to make sense of the economics of each content that is being produced, I think it is a good way of monetising it.

Any new Indian content in the pipeline that you are planning to acquire?

We are in advance conversation with almost all the OTT producers in India at this point for the intellectual properties they own. We are making sure that whatever show we handpick is of extremely good quality rather than taking it as a commodity approach and cross-selling product at super cheap price.

In the current situation, where production is on hold, what is your strategy going forward?

With production on hold, it hasn’t changed much for us. Of course, we need more and more content to drive our business. However, it’s just been three months now, there is enough content for us to sell even if the production is on hold. If the hold continues for a longer period, then it will be challenging to get new products. But our challenges will be minuscule as compared to the challenges faced by the overall industry. I am not worried as such as far as our business is concerned.

Are you looking at content that can be remade in India?

Absolutely, in fact we are putting together packages for about four different shows for which have acquired remake rights for India. We have put the right people behind them to i.e. writers, showrunners anddirectors and then go out to pitch the script to OTT platforms. Some of the shows we have are being commissioned by the networks in France, US and in Europe. All the shows that we have, are tried and tested so there is very limited risk about the story line. I believe there is a lot of scope of remaking content in India.

How has the pandemic impacted your business?

We all forced ourselves to efficiently work from home. A lot of our interactions are documented for better clarity. Use of collaborative tools to make sure things don’t go out of hand. The business momentum was significantly big at the start of this year, and that momentum has been slowed down for us now. But I believe things won’t be that bad for us going forward. Because content companies are now springing back up, consumer spending is slowly increasing. Yes, we have been affected but it is not going to be long term as far as the pandemic is concerned.

Apart from Indian content, will you be bringing more international content in India.

Indian content that we are distributing is for outside India. But we are bringing a lot of international content in India. We are looking at our Ruby Ring, which has done really well all across the world. We are approaching all the leading OTT players now to buy the rights. We are also looking at making that show for regular GEC broadcast. There are a lot of international shows that we are bringing in India, details will be out soon.

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