Ad revenue, quality storyboard artists and co-productions are focus areas for animation industry

Animation industry needs more successful studios, young talent and advertisers’ attention

MUMBAI: The animation industry is growing at 30 to 35 per cent but there are many challenges that this sector is facing from upgradation of hardware or software to revenue generation. According to experts, the industry has many opportunities on kids channels, OTT platforms and YouTube and to explore but it needs more successful studios, young talent and advertisers’ attention in the kids genre.

In a panel discussion 'Animation 2020' at KAM Summit organised by Animation Xpress on 30 August 2019, experts discussed on what this industry holds in 2020. The panel discussion was moderated by FICCI chairman animation and gaming Ashish Kulkarni and panellists were Green Gold Animation founder and CEO Rajiv Chilaka, Sony Yay! programming head Ronojay Chakraborty, DQ Entertainment COO Manoj Mishra, Viacom 18 programming head Anu Sikka, Big Animation COO Tejonidhi Bhandare, and Cosmos Maya SVP revenue and corporate strategy Devdatta Potnis.

Chakraborty said, "Animation as an industry is growing at a healthy pace. 35 per cent of the growth has come from the industry's producers and domestic broadcasters. As a channel, we started with 100 hours of content. In 2020 more hours will be added.  The producer depends on the broadcasters for financing and broadcasters look at the advertisers for finance, so the monetisation aspect needs to be looked into. Advertisers have to take notice of this category. We are one fourth the size of entire GEC category but in terms of revenue, we are one-tenth. Once the monetary aspect improves more and different varieties of programmes will be commissioned it will help the industry.”

Mishra shared his view on monetisation of content in the international market. He said, "In terms of animation, the US market is evolving and creating great shows. The animation industry in Europe is not growing at the rate at which it should have. From a studio perspective in 2020, we see that demand is there and it is a stable market at this moment. IP monetisation and creating IP for a global market play an important role from our studio perspective."

Chilaka wants to see more successful studios and young talent coming in this industry in 2020. He said, "As a studio, we have been here for the last 18 years and we realise the challenges faced by animation studios like upgradation of hardware and software from time to time bases. But for the growth of the industry, it's very important to have more successful studios. We also have the advantage of reaching out to the Indian diaspora across the world."

Potnis said that India is growing on all fronts, especially digital “We finalised nine new shows in the domestic market and few months back we signed three European co-productions. We also have a YouTube platform called Wow Kids which has 27 million subscribers. May be by 2022 we may also create an original for that platform in addition to working with broadcasters and OTT players," he mentioned.

Bhandare noted that ‘Animation 2020’ is not a vision but a start for the animation industry as there are lots of things that are opening up. “We need to focus more on talent and ways to build up talent. We need to create awareness about animation being age-agnostic and not only for kids. But we are not creating that kind of content yet. Our focus should be on creating great content,” he added.

Kulkarni also asked whether 2020 will see good storyboard artists. To which Mishra replied, "This is the area where we are looking at very strongly as far as our curriculum is concerned. We are trying to get storyboard artists from international markets to provide training. At the same time, some kind of exposure in creating the curriculum is important and while giving them the opportunity, we have to trust our artists too. We as an organisation also have got our interest and trust more on the talent outside India and then we move to talent in India, that's something which we need to change."

"There is a need for language training to fill the gap between the scriptwriter and storyboard artist for better transforming from the script to animation," commented Bhandare.

Kulkarni also touched upon the topic of co-production in the animation industry. He commented, "We are in a process of redefining and changing the definition of audiovisual co-production treaty but India was never a very active partner in co-production. We would really like to see India on the map of co-production."

Potnis shared his view on the same, "There is a feature project that we are working on. A couple of days ago I had conversations with studios in Ireland, Canada and Australia to compile the sort of support they get in term of subsidiaries. It is to the tune of 30 to 40 per cent of their budget and we stand nowhere in that sense. But now the government is also interested in this sector a little bit more. One thing that co-production helps do is to scale up on the quality front."

All said and done, the advertising revenue flow into animation just isn’t there. Sikka said, "Animation will continue to progress and we will continue to cater to the audience of 7 to 14 years. We will do something in pre-school segment when the advertisers start recognising the potential of pre-school content in the audience. Today a generation has grown on animation for whom animation is no longer a taboo. The scope for family animation should also be explored."

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