Perspective | Are Digital shows a viable option ?

As consumers today are labeled as 'smart and evolved users', broadcasting industry has also expanded its avenues and is somewhat set to use digital quite extensively. While Digital has been dominating traditional media in quite a few sectors/segment, how can content creators (producers) stay behind…With Internet penetration curve going upward day by day, the digital medium has been evolving quite rapidly in production (content creation) industry too.

It has not only created an opportunity for the channels, production houses and the consumers but has also altered the viewing habits of the viewers in the past few years. Looking at the growing need and demand of watching shows as per one’s own whims and wishes, the big broadcasters and leading channels have been putting up shows on Youtube from quite some time now, indeed making Digital medium a one-stop destination for anything and everything.

Another trend that was seen emerging in the digital space, was the launch of ‘India’s Digital Superstars’ by Fremantle Productions which is a first of its kind Digital talent hunt where the audience will be the judging who is the next Big Digital Star.

As per GroupM’s in-depth research of the Indian media industry, digital media continues to show the maximum growth with 37% in 2015. Digital has been growing at an average rate of 35% over the last two of years. This year within digital media Video, Mobile and Social will be the biggest growth drivers.

The youth today desires for exciting and engaging content and the digital medium not only democratizes opportunities and choices but also enables easy access to them like no other medium. But the question here is how one monetizes and if there is a scope to lower down the budget in the digital medium. 

What struck us was also the fact that, is this a start of some kind of a trend in the content creation space hence with an aim to get a deeper understanding we at Adgully thought of taking this idea to industry stalwarts like Myleeta Aga, Senior Vice President & General Manager India and Content Head Asia, BBC Worldwide; Anupama Mandloi, MD, Freemantle Media; Abhimanyu Singh, CEO, Contiloe Productions, Namit Sharma, Programming Head, Zee TV and Anurita Chopra, Marketing Director, Personal Care, Philips India.

When asked about the scope of such shows, Mandloi said, “The new generation possibly wants something that starts and finishes in probably 4 months which is why broadcasters, producers and content creators are trying to find their middle way that how can we deal with this need of creating a daily habit and delivering alternate content and so the finite content will come within that space. Instead of making 300, or a 500 or 1000 episodes, one can make 100 episodes which are finite but which allows continuity therefore letting the people to be engaged every day, so that one does not lose the attention of the audience.”

“Over a period of time maybe it will change, once I think when viewers adjust to the fact that something can end and should end, and therefore something new will come and that can be exciting in it. But I think it’s a gradual process and I don't think it will happen anytime soon,” she added.

Aga here opined, “It all depends upon the kind of content one produces. No doubt about the fact that consumers today need differentiated content hence if the show is created in a right way and with right content, then any show on any platform can be a success. The basic challenge in digital platform is to chalk out the right reason behind taking any kind of content live therefore the show of such a kind would require little more focused content and has to be targeted correctly.”

As a channel spokesperson, Sharma believes that there is a lot of scope in the Digital space. Elaborating further he said, “For a channel like us our core audience undoubtedly relies on Digital to as to cover up the shows that they might have missed but producing original content for a broadcaster would take time as it would be on the lines of creating new platform altogether.”  

While every single individual is going gaga about Digital medium what takes away the attention is how the monetization model works… And when asked about the same, Mandloi said, “You have reality shows which are high cost, finite allows the broadcaster to market this, create hype, create voice and therefore, write the other stuff on the back of these properties. Similarly with drama if you were to look at it as a high cost finite property which allows premium brands to come on board, finance these properties and there is no reason why that module can't work, because it does work for reality shows.”

“And we're saying that there needs to be an alternative, maybe that alternative is high budget dramas where there is scale, there is storytelling, there are characters that are larger than life. Here marketing can play a larger role. So then it becomes a vehicle of creating buzz for the broadcasters,” Mandloi said. Singh here stated, “Every medium has its own challenges and monetization model to work with.”

As a brand when asked Chopra about the opportunity that they see in getting associated with something on these lines, if given a chance, she said, “We are constantly looking at opportunities that offer a good fitment for us. So as and when we see something suitable we will certainly evaluate it.”

Well, as it is speculated that digital is a cost effective medium, so is it fair to say that sponsoring a show on digital costs less, Chopra said, “It’s a mathematical exercise because it depends on whether you are doing a sponsorship or an association, it depends on the property and the reach of the property and it differs from property to property. Today for instance if it is world cup, then that’s the kind of reach that you are planning to get, then the numbers pack up very differently whereas a simple reality show, or a mass reality show can again. Similarly on digital you can monitor it on a second-to-second basis. So it depends on the consumers and the number of downloads therefore on digital it is numerator v/s the denominator. It is how much you spend versus how much are your returns.”

When asked Aga whether producing a show on digital costs less, she strongly disagreed the same and said that it depends upon how the show is being designed. Adding further she said, “We cannot deny the fact that in Digital content is not confined to a specific time band unlike a television show hence it depends upon what and how the show is being created.” 

Giving his views, Singh here said, “Digital as medium has to be cost effective if compared with any other medium as there is no specified revenue model in Digital.”

On asking whether it is a viable trend going further down the line, Chopra said, “It depends on the priority and the returns that one gets from the association. So one will have to look at it from numbers, from the kind of impact and again it depends on the priority which could open up. This is also a fact that reality has dominated the country for the last five seven years. As long as the format keeps adapting to new age digital consumption it will certainly move in the right direction. From an overall content, how fresh that content is and how it engages people and that is pretty much going to be the crux.” Singh while singing off said, “Digital and Television both will co-exist in the years to come. In India it will take ample time to make this as a viable trend.”

As digital has come into the consideration set of those who matter, production houses are not behind in following this line of thought and have started creating shows separately online…. Undoubtedly, Digital shows have been a big success internationally but will they be able to make a lasting impression in India, is big question mark and is a big wait and watch game…! | By Aanchal Kohli | Twitter: @aanchalkohli


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