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Creating value for audiences in the niche space, experts reveal the gameplan

With the rapidly growing content base in the digital space, time has come now to stand out amid the clutter. It is where differentiated content comes into play and as Kranti Gada, COO, Shemaroo Entertainment, pointed out, “Differentiated content creates a hugely loyal audience and a lot of hard work goes behind that.” 

Gada was helming a panel discussion on ‘Differentiated Content’ at the SCREENXX 2019 Summit. The panel members included Gaurav Gera, Actor, comedian, content creator; Rajeshree Naik, Co-Founder, Ping Digital Broadcast; Malini Agarwal, Founder & Optimist Prime, MissMalini; Jaskirat ‘Kabir’ Singh Gill, COO, USP Studios; and Soumya Mukherjee, Head – Revenue and Strategy, hoichoi. 

All the panelists agreed that niche is the way to go in the digital space. But in a niche space, how do you create value for the audiences? 

Citing her experience with Ping Digital Broadcast, Rajeshree Naik narrated that they had started out with several genres and still provided content in various genres with more to be added soon. However, she realised that it was important to master one genre and then replicate the success to many. “We have made niche a part of our DNA,” she said. The decision to commit to the niche stemmed from the founder’s experience in the broadcast space, which has to cater to the lowest common denominator for audiences. 

At the same time, Naik admitted that being a niche platform was also very tough “because it also means that you will never have the large numbers which are very critical in the digital space. It takes a long time to build any kind of foothold. It’s about how you get the maximum value from the niche you build and take that to the best practices for more.” 

Miss Malini portal has today carved out a special space for itself in entertainment content. Reminiscing about the time the portal was set up in 2008, its founder Malini Agarwal said that there was no concept of influencer marketing then. She also observed that, “In entertainment journalism, the content tends to be somewhat tabloidy and negative in certain cases, but we decided to be positive in our content, which was a risk because do people want to read anything besides gossip? I can only write what I can say it to your face. We were pleasantly surprised to find that people did want the kind of content that we provided.” 

Miss Malini’s strategy has been to grow its content organically and platform agnostically, “because you have to go where the party is”. The differentiator is finding that gap in the market and having it influence your voice. Now, the focus is on content in one space. Agarwal said, “For us, it is about using entertainment to empower women.” At the same time, the portal also pivoted its strategy to include regional languages. 

According to Agarwal, with social media fatigue setting in, it is now about unseeing the numbers, unseeing the follower count and seeing the people again and curating the content to what they really want. 

Agreeing with these two speakers, Jaskirat Singh Gill, too, said that though USP Studios had started with multiple genres, early on it realised that kids is a genre that works the most for them. “We found our niche in that and doubled down on that. After that it was about creating IP that the kids connect with,” he said. 

Hoichoi has been in the news of late for the various innovations that it has been doing in the content space. Coming from the stable of SVF, which owns multiple businesses across movies, television, distribution, cinema hall chains, Hoichoi has been SVF’s way of becoming a consumer-facing business, informed Soumya Mukherjee. Continuing further, he said, “We wanted to understand the customer first and then create content which the customer wanted. Thus we have invested heavily into regional Original content.” 

While the understanding came from SVF’s movies and television business, Hoichoi also realised that on digital it had to innovate. “Today, we are niche mainstream platform in that we have reached out to the Bengalis not only in India, but also in Bangladesh, the US, the UK and rest of the world. Our dubbed content is helping us reach out to other language markets in India, where recently we did Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. That is also a space where we are innovating.” 

Content Creator, Actor and Comedian, Gaurav Gera said here that he world on an individual level, without a production or marketing team. “For me, the audience is most important,” he affirmed. To firm up his connect with the people via digital, Gera ensures that he responds to people who reach out to him on social media and even involve them in his videos. He shared, “The topics that I pick up are really classic situations which happen to everyone. My focus is on creating characters that people get attached to. Today, I have as many as 30 characters. At the same time, I also bring in various points of view depending on the characters that I play.” He finds Snapchat to be very helpful in his acts as it gives him the freedom to move around. But at the end of day, what creates a lasting bond with the audience is that there has to be a common thread in the content, Gera insisted. 

The panel continued by showcasing how democratisation brought about by digital platforms has created new horizons for content creators and built loyalty with niche segment of audiences. 

Talk Points:

  • Does differentiated content build platform loyalty?
  • Challenges in creating niche content.
  • Monetising content

Key Learnings:

  • Build an unrivalled niche content offering (Rajeshree Naik)
  • Understand and curate content for largely untapped female audience (Malini Agarwal)
  • Build a connect with your regional audience as they are loyal to platforms (Soumya Mukherjee)
  • Keep the audience in mind while creating content (Gaurav Gera)

Watch the entire session:

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