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The Expanding Cosmos of Indian Animation

Authored by Ashish Mehta, CEO, Cosmos Maya

“Animation can explain whatever the mind of man can conceive” – Walt Disney

India is at the cusp of a creative revolution. There has been a sudden proliferation of media platforms. Content consumers are spoilt for choice. This increase in supply has peculiarly resulted in increased demand and consumption, thereby giving rise to more such platforms and more opportunities all round. This has been a boon for storytellers and IP creators like Cosmos-Maya. Cosmos-Maya’s growth is a microcosm of that of the Indian animation sunrise industry.   A recent report by KPMG pegs that the Indian Animation and VFX industry, which now stands at USD 1.23 billion, will more than double in size to USD 2.6 billion in the next 5 years.

With a market share of 65% in the burgeoning kids’ animation space, Cosmos-Maya is a shining success story like no other. From producing 4 half-hour episodes a month to producing 50, from having one show to having 15 on air and from being a onetime service provider, backend studio to a leading IP creator, Cosmos-Maya today is the largest kids’ animation company in India with a 360 degree expansion focus.

Since KKR backed Emerald Media acquired a controlling stake in the company, the last few years have seen Cosmos-Maya attain a consistent annual growth of more than 50%. Its success can be attributed to its evolution from a premium animation outsource destination to IP creator. The report states that the Indian animation IP production business grew by about 20% in the last year and currently stands at Rs 860 cr. It is slated to double in size to Rs 1750 cr in the next 5 years.        

Digital platforms are seeing a boom in the country. Close to 650 million Indians have access to internet services today. Smartphone penetration has reached the 500 million mark. When we look at the breakup of India’s animation production pie, 53.5% is Digital’s share. This is driven by content viewing on mobile phones in a country which has mostly single TV households. WowKidz, Cosmos-Maya’s YouTube network, has been a big benefactor of this digital growth.

WowKidz today has more than 26 million subscribers and 13 billion views. An average of 60,000 new subscribers are added daily to the mix. WowKidz had humble beginnings and Cosmos-Maya saw it as a source of additional revenue. It was given a push when Cosmos-Maya envisaged a brand which viewers could bank upon for 24X7 quality entertainment. In just 18 months, it is now a full-fledged business entity raking in a substantial share of the company’s revenue pie. The platform now has 10,000 odd videos of quality entertainment for the 3-14 year demographic. WowKidz has the world’s largest Hindi language animation content catalogue today. The company has also acquired blockbuster shows like Smurfs, Boonie Bears, Omnom, Hotwheels and Simba from American, Chinese and European countries and these are giving back rich dividends on WowKidz. WowKidz has become a window to bring the best global content to India and to showcase quality Indian kids’ content to the world.

Interestingly for India, the classic Television is also still growing. There are currently 24 kids’ channels in India. Another report by Boston Consultancy Group says that traditional media continues to be the media of choice for consumers with an overall share of 84 per cent, the biggest chunk of which is with television. More than 200 million households in India today have a television, up from 180 million in s 2016. This ensures a consistent, pan-India reach of the content aired on TV. What makes these statistics even more interesting for a market like India are its absolute numbers. There are more than 300 million households in the country today, growing ever so quickly. TV has 30% share in India’s animation production pie, but still has the maximum reach. Today TV and digital are both growing in the country. With animation transcending boundaries between the two, we live in a beautiful era of plurality. For a content creator like Cosmos-Maya, both platforms are equally lucrative.

This lucrative scenario has been an enabler of cross-continental partnerships to develop high quality co-productions with top studios in the world. Cosmos-Maya currently has 5 European co-productions, namely ‘Leo Da Vinci’ (with Gruppo Alcuni and All Rights Entertainment), ‘Berry Bees’, an Italian-Australian-Irish co-production), ‘OPS’ (with Studio Campedelli and Movimenti) and ‘Atchoo!’ (with Studio Campedelli and Cartobaleno). ‘Galactic Agency’, is the latest co-production with Studio 100 France. Cosmos-Maya is aggressively expanding into China with co-productions and licensing deals with the top Chinese entertainment players.

Cosmos-Maya has organically moved into the International Content Distribution space with WowKidz Distribution. The onus will be on acquiring best in class American, European and Chinese content, the seeds of which have already been sown. We are following a three pronged approach of marketing, creative localization (which includes voice casting in local language and music) and syndication of the content. Our knowledge and distribution experience of local Asian markets coupled with our creative prowess enables us to add that extra zing to the content and making it ready for consumption. To quote an example, ‘Berry Bees’, one of our biggest co-productions with Atlantyca, SRL and Telegael will be ‘The Dabangg Girls’ in India, thereby giving it an Indian soul and yet retaining its original charm. Glocalization is the future.

Licensing and Merchandising (L&M) segment accounted for a share of 17% in the Indian animation production pie. Needless to say, with homegrown IPs growing in number, this is a category waiting to explode. Cosmos-Maya’s IPs like Selfie With Bajrangi and Guddu are very conducive to L&M given their reach and relatability and a full-fledged L&M department has been created to exploit this space.

A USD 2 Billion giant in the form of the Indian Ed-Tech industry has been given a push by animation. A major need gap exists between the Education and Entertainment industries. Cosmos-Maya is creating the WowKidz Edutainment App to bridge this gap and bring fun ways of learning to kids of all ages. The same is slated to launch in the next financial quarter. Cosmos-Maya is working with the largest Ed-Tech company in the country. Ed-Tech assumes a major chunk of the company’s revenues and the scope of business is planned to grow exponentially in the next couple of years.

To sum up, Disney established itself as a leader in the animation industry before diversifying. The Indian animation industry is alive and kicking. Cosmos-Maya will continue to drive growth of this sunrise sector.

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