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Sudhanshu Vats says content, platform and technology key to good storytelling

Vats also spoke about the convergence of TV and digital

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MUMBAI: On day 1 of FICCI Frames 2019 in a session titled ‘Looking back as we move ahead’, Viacom18 group CEO and MD Sudhanshu Vats was in conversation with Indian Express executive director Anant Goenka. The burning question that came out to dominate this conversation was ‘does the industry even realise how to and what to evolve to?’

Vats began by stating that a lot has changed in the industry for the better. He went on to state, from the content space, the first thing that has changed, irrespective of the platforms, is that the industry has moved away from broadcast to micro-cast online. The industry has moved from beaming things to having more conversations making things more interactive.

According to him, the second most important change led by technology is that it isn’t necessary to tell stories to everyone, rather tell it to a limited number of people and tell it successfully. 2018 has seen films target certain audience and these films performed exceedingly well in spite of not being blockbusters such as Andhadhun, Badhai Ho, etc. 

The third and most interesting thing he pointed out to is the changes and differences between curator, creator and consumer. It used to be much simpler to differentiate between these three in the past but today the lines have completely blurred. And this is also followed by audiences across, where audiences have also become content curators.

While reiterating the fact that the industry is experiencing many important changes, he states a welcoming change is the narration of diverse stories in a classical content sense.

He stated that because the TV model is an ad-driven model, telling stories in an authentic manner has become a little difficult as compared to the past as it's driven by ratings. He noted that while playing with the original story, many times the industry is taking away from the story. He stressed that importance must be given here and that the focus must be on the ability to tell stories which will eventually sell rather than looking at only selling the stories.

Speaking about ‘Formula’ as a safety net, Vats believes that formula works as a safety net at some level. With minds being patterned in a particular format, and sometimes from the commercial point of view, one must believe in intuition. With reference to the western world, he added that the media industry in the West follows a pattern format leading to success.

Sudhanshu Vats believes that there will be a lot of custom use in the story and segmentation in the audience. According to him, there will be a set of audience that will love, and there will be one that doesn’t. But in the future, it won’t matter as every story can reach its audience and every audience their story.

The session ended on the note that the future can be rafted only from lessons learnt in the past. The media industry is in interesting times today, as it witnesses a disruptive process of embracing change to redefine itself for the future.

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