Exclusive | Up and Close with BBC Worldwide's Myleeta Aga

We all know that the stereotypical ‘Saas Bahu’ sagas have taken a back seat and the viewers today demand much more.The convergence of television has introduced new trends and has raised the expectations of the viewers. Therefore, with an aim to cater the needs and demands of the evolving consumers in the best way the channels as well as production houses are seen pulling up their socks and experimenting with different formats like 24, Yudh, Everest and a lot more.

Myleeta Aga who is responsible for the running BBC Worldwide’s India business ranging from TV sales, consumer products and production, has been one of the names synonymous to getting one of the best locally produced and international shows for our viewers on various genres may it be youth, like Kaisi Hai Ye Yaariyan or general family entertainment like Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa etc.

In addition to her India remit, Aga is also the creative lead overseeing the Asia content strategy working with other territory leads in the region. Having best known for the property of Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa (the Indian version of Dancing with the Stars, a BBC Worldwide format), BBC Worldwide’s Aga is all geared up towards strengthening their core property and adding few more in the kitty.

To know more and get deeper understanding, Adgully caught up with Myleeta Aga, Senior Vice President & General Manager India and Content Head Asia.

Glorious Journey:

Aga joined BBC Worldwide in 2009 when the company was fairly new but Aga has leaded the production house to touch newer heights. From producing the first ever show beyond the BBC format the production house has come a long way.

Aga said, “The Company was relatively new at that point of time. Though we used to produce a couple of shows for NDTV Imagine but Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa which is one of my first shows is also one of the main show for BBC. The show gave us a lot of confidence to look at avenues beyond just the BBC format catalog which was initially the focus of the company.”

As with time when the production house got new talent on board and strengthened their in-house team, it grew with encouraging avenues and came up with interesting shows like ‘Wife Bina Life’ on Star Plus and many more. Seems like, the fact that very first year after Aga’s entrance in the production house was more of experimentation and getting rewarded for giving interesting shows to our audience.

After that the production house opened its arms to invest in fiction properties too. Today BBC stands strong with the fact that they have been able to work well with their own talent and co-production houses with all type of format/genre shows.

“One thing that has led to our success is our thought of opening up to different format of shows. We strongly believe in supporting the idea or the concept that will change the dimensions of the industry thus eventually helping the entire television industry to grow,” she added.

Another thing that worked in their favor was the experiment with Ad-funded shows (AFP) like Asian Paints - Har Ghar Kucch Kehta Hai which was a second AFP from their kitty. Elaborating on the same, Aga said, “It was a brand show for Asian paints but the whole idea was to integrate the brand’s essence without putting the brand in the face of the show.”

Changing Perception:

The Indian audience today is in need for differentiated content and formats. They are much more advanced and believe in exploring a lot more different concepts/shows. She said, “The Indian audience is far ahead of us today. They are more impatient and willing to move on if something doesn’t woo their attention. They have moved far beyond simple story-telling format and are getting younger day by day.”

Another point that Aga got into our attention was the fact that the younger generation want their own space while watching a show. They prefer co-viewing but at the same time, at some point of time, they would prefer watching a show of their own choice. She strongly feels that it is important to cater to that differentiated demand. Looking at the shows that are coming off-late the change in perception is visible quite literally.

Fiction v/s Non-fiction:

Aga feels that both fiction and non-fiction formats are equally challenging but it strongly depends upon the idea and the concept. For the weekend property the concept of the show has to be unique so as to grab majority eye-balls. The production cost of weekend property is relatively high if compared to a weekday property but undoubtedly, Non-Fiction shows too are quite expensive ones. 

Shows that worked well:

Aga said, “Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa has been one of the most successful properties that we have ever had. The show enhances co-viewing element in the family and is full of drama, glamour, dance and music.” Apart from that, Aga is really proud of their youth based shows like ‘kaisi hai yeh yaariyan’ on MTV, Yeh Hai Aashiqui on Bindass.

Having made their presence felt in the Hindi general entertainment space and youth channels, BBC worldwide is, very shortly, all set to foray in the regional space too. The mantra for making the show work well is the fact there should be a balance between the research and the format.

Other Growth Areas:

The year gone by seems to be quite interesting for BBC Worldwide as they expanded their TV sale business too. Elaborating further Aga said, “We expanded our finished program business. We had Top Gear and Sherlock on AXN and we also do quite a few shows on Discovery. We have expended our bouquet and reach with many English language channel thus got some iconic BBC show like ‘Honorable Women’ etc.”

Looking at the need and demand BBC is all set to get a lot more British content for the Indian audiences. “This is another point that we witnessed last year that audiences wants to go beyond just watching American content and there is a growing need for British content too,” she stated.

Also looking at the growing digital penetration, BBC is geared up to strengthen their digital presence with makingwww.bbc.com a home for differentiated content as well as taking their existence content much closer. Very recently they launched a vertical called BB Earth on their website which is based on natural history. “Today audience is beyond just one screen. They believe in exploring multi-screen. We are open for long and short format both but focus shall remain on short- format.”

Trends/way forward:

As we can observe the changing dynamics of the television industry, Aga believes that short fiction series is what is going to pick up and is going to be a way forward. She said, “We have always been talking about short-scripted-reality format shows which work quite well in the other parts of the world. And one of the big constraints of those not working in the Indian market is the fact that we work on Monday-Friday-half an hour slot. But now as we see channels and productions houses opening up for short formats/weeklies’, the opportunity of getting scripted-reality for our Indian audience is increased,” she added.   

With time and patience such formats are likely to woo the TV industry in the coming future. A strong believer in terms of making the industry creative year on year, prior to joining BBC Worldwide in India, Myleeta helped co-found TV guide channel, What’s On India. Before that, she was Executive Producer at the Travel Channel based in the US. Here she executive produced and launched Travel Channel’s Emmy winning, most successful series to date: Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. The series earned Myleeta two Emmy nominations including Best Non-fiction Series.

Before working for the Travel Channel, Myleeta worked at the International Networks at Discovery Communications and as an Executive Producer for Fremantle Asia, based in Jakarta. Myleeta has an MBA from Georgetown University, USA. | By Aanchal Kohli | Twitter: @aanchalkohli 


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