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How will the new breed of content creators fit in the digital space with big daddies around?

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MUMBAI: The beauty of digital is that the younger audience can bubble up digital content for the older audience. With videos and internet becoming synonymous with each other, we tend to consume more information in the form of videos in today's time. Reports say that Indian content gets roughly 7 billion (700 crore) views a month with a watch time of 2 billion (200 crore) hours. And what is driving this massive consumption, but the younger audience? The market is for all age groups, but is largely driven by the youngsters, the millennials. The space has also created a new age of celebrities. Brands are increasingly looking to tie-up with these content creators. The boundaries of broadcast companies, ad agencies, technology companies, music labels, etc., all are morphing into this new medium of entertainment.

Discussing the birth of a ‘New breed of content creators powered by digital’ was a panel comprising of The Viral Fever CEO Arunabh Kumar, Rajshri Entertainment Private Limited MD and CEO Rajjat Barjatiya, Terribly Tiny Tales founder Anuj Gosalia, East India Comedy founder Kunal Rao, Click Digital studios co-founder Anand Doshi and Ping Digital Broadcast co-founder and director for talent and acquisitions Anagha Rajadhyaksha. The session was moderated by Qyuki co-founder and MD Samir Bangara.

With big daddies like Hotstar, VOOT, etc, in the digital space, the question that arises is how is this content going to fit in the space or are they going to get stomped out?

Kumar responded, speaking about his own company, “Obviously there are people sitting with lot of money above us. But the simple difference TVF has is that we started with videos at the time when no one was even watching them. We remain a content company, we wanted to make certain types of shows which no one wanted to produce and hence we started making web series on our own. We wanted to make web series since 2010. We are in love with creating content. The age group of 18-24 is the progressive audience, and they are bored of the stories that come on TV. We still take time and sweat to make something and still get the same amount of joy when someone appreciates it. I don’t think there is any competition. We are still evolving and I don’t think there is any question of competition with the bigger players”.

Barjatiya said, “I think this is a very sweet spot for us. We have been producing films since 1947 and 10 years ago we started acquiring rights for content. And now we produce 3 hours of short form content for the web every day. We are a platform agnostic company and we have chosen to become the product on other platforms. We want to be the product on others’ shelves. I will never launch my own platform. We have 100 distribution partnerships with national and international companies and we are happy with this. We have got 610 billion (6,10,000 crore) views on Youtube.”

When asked about the monetisation model that Rajshri follows, Bharjatiya replied, “Organic ads consumed on a platform like Youtube, make an amount of about 10-20 paise per view depending on various factors which comes up to 55 per cent.” He further revealed that long form of premium content works well for the company. “We are getting more traffic from mobile phones and the ad-rates are also inching up. I have been observing that more and more people are watching content on phones.”

Doshi said, “I think it also depends on the time that you release your video. It also matters. If I release my video when I see a trend, it works more effectively for us. The fill rate also matters in a country like India. Right now we touch 120 million (12 crore) views every month on our network. The concern is that we get 90 per cent traction from mobile. It’s a beautiful scenario and the future is mobile phones but the ad sales are going down.”

Citing an example, Doshi pointed out one of the spoofs of Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo, Bharjatiya claimed the content from Anand, and hence monetized it. So, the money was directed to Bharjatiya while the subscribers remained with Doshi.

When asked about the shift from stand-up comedy to sketch, Rao said, “Our motto is to get people out of cinemas to us. No one reads the ads in newspapers. We wanted people to know that stand-up comedy exits. The objective is to reach out to the maximum people. Initially we had to go to places for our shows, but today we don’t have to go everywhere. Content is content; it does not have to be short or extraordinary. We give out very simple content and have roughly 3,50,000 views on our network.”

The fact that Youtube subscribers cannot be bought or marketed is very well known to all of us. The delivery platforms are blooming up efficiently which is evident by the growing number of views each of the creators gets in a month.

“In India, subscription is always connected with money. The subscribers don’t know the cost involved and hence don’t click that button often”, added Bharjatiya.

“On any OTT platform, you pay first and then watch content. But on Youtube, you can watch content first and then subscribe for it. It’s like giving ‘dakshina’,” said Kumar.

Ping Network basically produces the ‘how to’ videos and fuels search engines. “We are not in the viral business. Our focus is on utility content. As people want to know things every now and then, that is how we have grown. The power of digital is that you are true to your content. If you are pulling out a video, if it's powerful and is good, the content will definitely work”, said Rajadhyaksha.

Gosalia added, “We give out tweet size stories and currently reach out to 12 ½ million (1.25 crore) people on social media. We have collaborated with a lot of brands which comes out in the forms of images. We work with around 30,000 writers. We also do text content for brands. We are primarily focused on quality, commitment and reachability.  Videos are difficult and are completely different for us but they have done well for us in the past. For us to stay in this business where we want to scale stories, we went back to text. We are basically attacking the niche-micro fiction and are taking it global.”

Talking about the money involved, Kumar said, “Way back in 2008, we used to get Rs 20-30,000 for content. The scale has gone up now. The money involved is couple of times more than a TV episode.”

“In this business, passion is more important than money”, concluded Bharjatiya.

With these new breed of content creators powered by digital, content will only evolve and leverage various opportunities in a digital consuming world. It will be interesting to see how the industry meets the talent pool in India over the next few years.

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