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The Content Hub 2019: Creators discuss digital adaptation, creativity and originality

'The new era of content creation' was the theme of the third edition of the event.

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MUMBAI: Indiantelevision.com on Wednesday wrapped the third edition of its popular event The Content Hub in presence of some of the biggest names from the TV, digital, and the movies industry. Spanned across several panel discussions and fireside chats, this edition of The Content Hub discussed ‘the new era of content creation’ with a focus on the digital boom, need of good content creators, the synergy between creators and producers, and creating properties that can travel globally.

Starting the day was a panel discussion on ‘The TV Production Story: Reality, Not Fiction’, moderated by Bodhi Tree Multimedia co-founder and director Mautik Tolia. In discussion were some of the most successful and prominent names in the TV industry - Contiloe Pictures Pvt Ltd founder and producer Abhimanyu Singh, Endemol Shine India CEO Abhishek Rege and SOL India – Banijay Group founder and MD Fazila Allana.

The distinguished panel discussed the opportunities and challenges fiction and non-fiction formats today face in the TV and digital world. They also shed some light on the prospects premium content has in the Indian industry.

The panel agreed that non-fiction producers face bigger challenges in creating content as compared to those investing in fiction and dramas. Allana noted that while earlier people were chasing formats, now they are chasing stories. However, she quipped that there is a vast opportunity for non-fiction shows on OTT platforms citing examples of TV shows like MTV Troll Police.

Singh reflected the same sentiments as he noted that this is a very good time for the content creators. He said, “I feel it is a great time to tell stories. I think we as an industry haven’t delivered premium content because the nature of delivery has always been daily content. So, this is an opportunity to deliver premium content.”

Rege mentioned, “Scripted becomes a little easier to tell stories more across TV, OTT or across multiple platforms. The challenge here is making attractive content for the viewers and targeting the right people. With OTT I don’t think it’s easy to do as many talent shows that we do on linear.”

The second session was a fireside chat between Indiantelevision.com founder, CEO and editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari and Swastik Productions  & One Life Studios founder and chief creative officer Siddharth Kumar Tewary.

Tewary, based on his extensive experience of industry work, reflected upon many aspects of content creation and production including formats, IP rights, and disruptors in the industry. He noted while most of the people believe that longer formats don’t work internationally, the reality is not the same.

Speaking about IP rights of content, Tewary made some relevant points saying, “IP creation is a scientific thing related to the socio-political situation in the country and the world. We need to know where the world is heading. If you are going to add value and bring something unique for the TV, then you will get the IP.” He also announced the foray of his group in the animation category at the platform.

The next session was a discussion on the animation industry with an esteemed panel of Discovery Kids head Uttam Pal Singh, Golden Robot Animation head of business development RK Chand, Paperboat Animation co-founder and chairman Soumitra Ranade and Bioscopewala Pictures managing partner Nishith Takia. The session was moderated by Kinsane Entertainment Inc chief marketing officer Pranab Punj.

The panel highlighted the vast opportunities OTT platforms are offering them right now. Takia shared that his company is in talks with several big digital players to create content for them. Another point that the panel highlighted was that Indian audience is not very keen to visit theatres to consume animated content and that closed their avenues of creating content for a wider audience and not just the kids.

Answering a question on why there aren’t more female-led animated shows in India, the panel shared a similar tone as they mentioned that in most of their shows, the female characters have an equal prominence as the mail lead, they are inclusive to the storyline. They added that male-led shows are doing well in the market and from a business perspective they are focusing on that aspect as well.

The next session was an interesting and insightful chat on ‘The Syndication Opportunity’ between Sony head networks—licencing Malvika Prabhu, Go Quest Media Ventures MD Vivek Lath, Swastik Productions and One life studio producer and managing director Rahul Kumar Tewary, MX Player head of content acquisition Mansi Shrivastav and ANM Global co-founder partner Nidhish Mehrotra. Moderating the panel was Wanvari.

Wanvari started the discussion by asking the panellists whether the demand for Indian content in the global market is going up or declining. To this, the panel stated that it has probably reduced over time. However, the Indian creations are performing well at markets like Thailand and Sri Lanka.

The panel mentioned that genres like romance, drama, horror, and good animation has a lot of markets overseas. They also added that premium content will also attract a lot of traction towards Indian creations. Kumar stated that we need to relook at the type of content we are creating and invest more in subjects that have the potential to travel. He also said that Indians do not value their content enough.

Lath said, “We have to think like a programmer and not from a sales perspective,” as he elaborated on the right approach to sell content overseas. He predicted that India has the potential to make around Rs 400-500 crore with content syndication (minus the movies) because it is still young in the market and has a lot of potential to improve in the coming times. Kumar added that in the next few years Indian premium content will find a lot of audiences globally.

Taking the insightful day ahead was the next panel of digital producers including Addatimes Pvt Ltd managing director Rajiv Mehra, The Viral Fever (TVF) global head of business and content Rahul Sarangi, Viacom18 EVP and head content Monika Shergill, MX Player chief content officer Gautam Talwar and One Digital Entertainment COO and co-founder Gurpreet Singh. The panel was moderated by industry veteran and Hungama Digital Media Entertainment executive producer Sanjeev Lamba.

While the panel agreed that there is a great influx of male-oriented and sexually-oriented content performing on OTT platform, they all are looking beyond that. They all mentioned that the industry is currently focusing on good writing talent and meaningful stories. Sarangi said that TVF is not looking towards creating violent or sexual content at all, at least for the next four to five years. Its focus is on stories like Pitchers and Yeh Meri Family that touch the hearts of the people.

Shergill shared that Voot is looking at ideas that bring new and original voices to the stories. Unless platforms experiment, she believes they will lose their audience.

Talwar shared that the focus of recently launched MX Player is on creating content that can be watched on a 5-inch phone screen rather on a 50-inch TV. The TG for the player is 18-30-year-old male and it wants the platform to be genre-agnostic.

The next event was a fireside chat between Wanvari and Applause Entertainment CEO Sameer Nair. The duo discussed ‘The New Studio Model’.

Nair started with launching an amazing showreel of upcoming programmes from the Applause banner. They included a wide variety of content ranging from humour to political to drama. It also included the Indian version of the very popular The Office series.

Nair stated that he did not want to start a company which goes on to become just a production house but he rather wanted to invest in good content. He thus worked with some amazing directors, writers, and actors like Ronit Roy, Pankaj Tripathi and Swara Bhaskar to create the first instalment of the Applause shows. One of the flagship series, Rasbhari-starring Swara Bhaskar and written by Shantanu Shrivastava—has in fact already been selected for ‘Series Mania’ festival in France. Warning them of slacking in content, he said, “If the content industry is not careful right now, it will end up becoming a replica of TV.”

The day continued with a panel discussion on how new Hindi film producers are making their mark and what business models they are drawing up. Part of the discussion were Essel Vision (Zee Studios) CEO Shariq Patel, Viacom18 Studios chief operating officer Ajit Andhare, Alliance Media and Entertainment owner Sunil Doshi and Fox Star Studios India CEO Vijay Singh. Moderating the panel was film reviewer at Film Companion Suchitra Tyagi.

The panel was a light-hearted but with insightful discussions on the current trends of the Indian movie industry, the need for well-written scripts and content that performs. The panel agreed that today is an amazing time for good storytellers and content creators. They forced upon the fact that literature is the sibling of cinema. The panel also discussed on creating avenues to make the system more approachable to the budding writers who want to reach out to the studios.

The evening was concluded by an overview of the MIP platform by MIP China Hangzhou director of market development Ted Baracos, who in an interactive session apprised the gathering of various opportunities this global content-sharing platform brings and how they can leverage on that.

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