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We’re looking to create more ad-funded content for brands in 2019: Myleeta Aga

Myleeta Aga, Senior Vice President and General Manager, South and South East Asia at BBC Studios, does a round-up of the year gone by for content production house, the merger with BBC Worldwide, key developments, content strategy for 2019 and more. 

How has BBC Studios fared in 2018? How has the merger with BBC Worldwide contributed to your business in India?
The year 2018 has been great for us. The merger of BBC Worldwide and BBC Studios has enabled the company to bring content creation and distribution together under one entity, which will be key to our creative and commercial success in the long run. The combined BBC Studios builds on the unique heritage of both organisations, with British creativity and outstanding content at the heart of the company. The new BBC Studios sees content through the full cycle of development, commissioning, production and co-production, sales and distribution. 

In India, our successful partnerships continue this year. Our JV channel, Sony BBC Earth, has in less than 12 months of its launch consistently rated among the top factual entertainment channels in six metros here. It was also recently recognised with four awards at Promax BDA Asia 2018. Our BBC First programme block on Zee Café received positive response from the viewers and we are currently looking at exploring more opportunities with premium British drama with them, and our production business is doing some very exciting new shows. 

The merger has strengthened the India operations. The merged BBC Studios brings together UK’s most awarded production business, a world-class content sales business, our unique portfolio of brands, and a network of premium indie partners to create and export quality British programmes in this age of content. 

What has been the range of content that you produced in 2018?
Among the highlights, we have produced Indian versions of BBC formats, ‘Criminal Justice’ and ‘The Office’ with Applause Entertainment. We’ve also produced ‘Elevator Pitch’ for MTV, ‘Zindagi U-Turn’ for Zing, branded content ‘Castrol Garage Guru – The Super Mechanic Show’ for Zee Anmol. We have licensed a Nepali version of BBC format, ‘Dancing with the Stars’ for Nepal Television and ‘Shriman Shrimati Phir Se’ for Sony SAB. This year also marks BBC Studios India’s first international production of ‘Stupid Man Smart Phone’ for a terrestrial channel in Singapore and ‘Got Science’ for pay TV channel, BBC Earth in Asia. 

How are you strategising to grow you branded content business in 2019?
Advertiser-funded programme is a broad range of programming that allows brands to connect with their audiences through storytelling. We have been working in this space for some time now and so we understand the brands’ requirements and we know how to take a story and put it together with the brand so that it becomes seamless. 

We did three seasons of ‘Har Ghar Kucch Kehta Hai’, which really worked for Asian Paints without putting a single can of paint in a single frame across seasons. We’ve also done shows like ‘Stupid Man Smart Phone’ (presented by Vodafone and powered by Motorola) for Voot, and ‘I Can You Can’ in partnership with Nicotex and most recently, ‘Castrol Garage Guru’ for Zee Anmol, which were huge successes. 

We will be exploring opportunities to create more ad-funded content for brands in 2019. 

What are your plans for regional content in the year ahead?
Producing regional content is one of our key focus areas in 2019. We are looking at building some partnerships, however it’s too early to talk about it. For us, regional includes South Asian countries ,with an increasing appetite for global and Indian content. 

Could you tell us about your tie-up with Applause Entertainment for content?
We have produced Indian versions of BBC formats, ‘Criminal Justice’ and ‘The Office’ for Applause Entertainment. Both will be long format shows and there is more to come. 

How do you see the impact of digitisation on television business?
As OTT and SVOD platforms evolve, TV will need to evolve as well. I don’t believe that any medium is going to become irrelevant. Let’s remember, when television came in, everyone thought radio would die. That didn’t happen; instead, it adapted and found new audiences and content and continues to do so. So, I certainly don’t think broadcast will become redundant – even from a revenue perspective. What we are seeing is the creation of new formats and innovative content and delivery ecosystems in which there are new platforms, which, in turn, are reinvigorating the older ones. If we talk about creative excellence and business, both OTT and television are progressing and innovating and are ultimately a means to reaching audiences for our content and fans of our brands. 

Any big shows that BBC Studios will be producing for GECs in India?
We see a lot of opportunities to create content in India and new business models. We will continue to leverage the capabilities of our production house as creator and adaptor of quality content to take our business to the next level. 

In 2019, we will be strengthening our production line-up for OTT platforms. We have also started local, regional and global productions for both digital and linear television. GECs remain a key partner for us moving forward.

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