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Indian content owners, creators don't value own content

The Latin American market is the next expected source of syndication.

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MUMBAI: The third edition of Indiatelevision.com’s The Content Hub had an insightful panel on the global syndication market. The panel consisted of Go Quest Media ventures MD Vivek Lath, Swastik Productions and One Life Studios MD Rahul Kumar Tewary, MX Player head-content acquisition Mansi Shrivastav, Sony head networks - licencing Malvika Prabhu and ANM Global co-founder partner Nidhish Mehrotra and moderated by Indiantelevision.com founder, CEO and editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari.

Go Quest Media ventures MD Vivek Lath said that a lot of countries are now doing indigenous production. “But what they lack is the kind of creative maturity and evolution India has gone through. That’s where we see much larger opportunity going forward.”

Swastik Productions and One Life Studios MD Rahul Kumar Tewary said that the demand for Indian content has reduced over time. “But what we need to understand is what kind of content we are creating. Does it resonate with the international audience or are we only catering to the Indian market? In the end, it is a business and we only cater to the Indian market. But if we really want our content to travel the world, I guess we need to re-look at what kind of content we are creating,” he said.

Another issue syndication faces is that, according to Lath, Indian content creators don’t value their content as people from Korea, Turkey and China do because of which it is underpriced. Tewary agreed with Lath and said, “Turkish, Chinese and Korean dramas have got a standard market price. No one brings the market price down. So they value their content. Unfortunately, we are the cheapest. You can sell it for $50-70.”

Much of Indian content travels to Southeast Asia because it has a similar market. In India, shows are telecast for 5-6 days a week which is 260-312 episodes a year. It becomes difficult to sell so many episodes across the world because the appetite for such viewing is lacking. With Thailand emerging as a new market in the last two years, it helped cushion the impact from the other markets. Latin America is also a promising area but tough to crack which Tewary feels will open up soon.

The genres that are doing well currently are animation, fantasy, mythology and the modern drama series. Experts also foresee a future demand for Indian horror thrillers on OTT platforms, because of their high production quality. Lath believes that GEC dramas are the fastest moving in the international markets across 60-odd countries.

The deciding factor for content buying is the platform. MX Player head-content acquisition Mansi Shrivastav said, “I think for OTT there is more flexibility because there is an ability to programme for an individual customised experience. When you are buying for linear TV, you have to keep the overall target audience in mind and there is only one kind of programming."

For OTT, there is still limited data available on usage and behaviour patterns. But sometimes, you follow your gut and take a risk. MX Player has just bought 100,000 hours of content which varies from two-minute videos to long-form series. “Movies in each language are important to us because there is a lot of traction for that. But we are buying across top ten languages; we are giving a lot of importance to regional markets including Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, etc. and Hindi, of course, is a key language,” Shrivastav added.

According to experts, the Indian content export business excluding movies is around Rs 400 crore as the syndication of Indian content started only from 2007 onwards. “I think in the future, animation is something which is going to add on a lot of export to India in the next 5-10 years,” Tewary concluded.   

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