Animation potential could be limitless

Authored by Anish Mehta, CEO, Cosmos Maya

India has the world's second-highest number of internet users after China. Mobile internet subscribers are touted to be at around 570 million, growing at a rate of 13 per cent annually. These are figures from FICCI-EY’s research document that claims Indian digital media will reach $5.1 billion by 2021. It further states that the country will have 30-35 million paying OTT video subscribers by the end of 2021. In a post-pandemic world, when streaming platforms are increasingly gaining user penetration, digital media’s growth could heal the Indian economy. 

However, today’s discerning pop culture consumer is aware of prevalent visual standards in global production. They demand high-quality visual effects and realistic animation. Today, studios are incorporating an increasing amount of animation and VFX shots into films. India alone has more than 30 platforms, ranging from global titles (Netflix, Apple Tv+) to region specific offerings like Aha for the Telegu crowd or Hoichoi for Bengalis and the independent Spuul. And more platforms and mediums will continue to enter the fray with brands such as Zomato Originals and Bookmyshow coming up, that rely on storytelling and qualitative content marketing for increasing brand engagement.

Telecom players have said that 5G networks in India can be deployed in as soon as three months. However, the country lacks the infrastructure needed for this to be accessible by all. Nonetheless, growing internet penetration has resulted in an influx of original streaming digital content. This progress in technology has increased the demand for animation, VFX and games among the masses meteorically. The industry has proved to become one of the fastest-growing entertainment media segments in these past couple of years. 

According to the report on Global Animation & VFX: Strategies, Trends & Opportunities (2021-25), the total value of the Global Animation, VFX & Video Games industry was US$ 264 billion in 2019. Most of the segments in the animation industry are growing at the rate of 2-3% annually.  While production cost per animation movie ranges anywhere between US$ 20 million to US$ 300 million. The spend on special effects as a percent of production cost is about 20%-25%.

KPMG’s 2019, India’s Digital Future says animation services in India are becoming an increasingly popular choice for international production houses. Chennai-based Pentamedia Graphics has worked on films such as Aliens, Tarzan and Gulliver’s Travels. Production costs in India are 1/3rd the cost of North America and 25% lower than countries like Korea and Phillipines. The Indian animation industry alone registered a growth of 12.9% in FY19, with revenues approximating INR 19.3 billion, and has made strides in not just the domestic market, but the larger global industry, with co-production projects in Indonesia, Spain, Italy, Ireland, UK, LATAM etc. Animated IP production is witnessing a compound annual growth rate of 12.3%. Technological advancements such as cloud computing, play a significant role in making animation more effective and efficient. These macro-statistics reflect in the growth of homegrown animated series such as Eena Meena Deeka, which – in a first – brought onboard Wildbrain Spark, an animated IP library to co-produce the next season of the show. This is a testament to the Indian animation sector’s ability to provide world-class standards of production quality and create content that is culturally malleable.  

When it comes to entertainment, the future of animation rests on the shoulders of kids’ entertainment. The global market share of this segment has grown dramatically in recent years. Take for instance The Walt Disney Company India which launched Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Marvel HQ, between 2004 and 2019. Tamil Nadu’s Sun TV Network too has four channels dedicated to children’s content. Urban viewership dominates the pie with 61%, while rural India accounts for 39%. This has created newer avenues within the kids’ entertainment space, where mainstream Bollywood film series like Salman Khan-starrer Dabangg are getting reimagined as their animated avatars and will see releases on both OTT and pay TV simultaneously. This further creates the demand for larger scale projects that require creative manpower and create opportunities for artists and technicians from around the global spectrum. For instance, Hanuman Vs Mahiravana had crew from India, Australia, US, Mexico and Japan. Indian original animated content is now exploring new mediums, territories, formats and even durations. 

Animation today has also transcended the entertainment industry. The school and professional education industry needed an update for the times we are in, and aided by the world situation in 2020, the online EdTech industry saw a major boost, with multiple unicorns making waves in the Indian market, one with a learners’ base of nearly 360 million people, with K-12 and competition prep being the largest segments. Total EdTech funding in India increased by 4x to US$2.2 bn in 2020 compared to 2019, and the total market is expected to reach US$4 bn by 2025. We have a lucrative market avenue for the service animation industry whose importance at every stage of the education packets and modules is paramount.

Companies like Emotix and others are blending animation with edutech to create unique solutions. Some are following suit in real estate, healthcare and corporate trainings. This others category is also expected to mushroom in the near future. To conclude, the industry has the potential to grow multi-fold and unlike other sectors that have received blows during the pandemic.  

 DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and does not necessarily subscribe to it. 


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