Entertainment continues to be the most important driver of the digital medium. IAMAI’s Second Digital Entertainment Conference, which was held in Mumbai on November 11, put the focus on the platform or access points – movie halls, television, PCs/laptops and mobile devices – while adoption, innovation and convergence was the defining theme of the Conference.
The first session of the day saw a panel discussion on ‘Entertainment from 25 Feet’. The panellists included PS Saminathan, Group Chairman, Pyramid Saimira; Rajjat Barjatya, MD, Rajshri Media; Jai Maroo, Director, Shemaroo Entertainment; Rajesh Mishra, CEO – India, UFO Moviez; and Navin Shah, CEO Percept Pictures. The session was moderated by Aditya Shastri, CEO, People Pictures.
Entertainment goes digital
Starting off the session, Saminathan said, “I believe technology is beginning to destruct our business model. It would be wrong to say that money and creativity are commodities as creativity is equal to acceptance by people. Technology, on the other hand, will change traditional usage of this industry as it is the quality of content that is accepted by end users, and if the last few years saw more films succeed, it was only because of the concept of the film. Creativity of any kind is required in selling an unknown face.”
On Bollywood going digital, Barjatya observed, “An increasing number of films are being shot in digital and the use of digital technology production process is also growing rapidly. Digital cinemas have redefined film exhibition especially in Tier II and III cities and mobile has also become a big revenue stream. The web began as a marketing platform, but as of now, it has become a sales and marketing platform. For instance, the film ‘Vivaah’ moved from marketing platform to sales and distribution platform.”
He further said, “Digital is a huge opportunity as well as a huge threat. However, we are investing in the future of this medium.”
On the on-demand services, Maroo stated, “Any new platform that arrives in the market does not kill the old platform, all it does is polarise which is fine. As of now, I don’t know how many people watch my films on cable, which the new media will bring.”
On the future of film and digital distribution, Mishra added, “Digital cinema as a concept is another disruptive technology as it will shake the foundation at least a little bit, however, it is the low revenue of films leading to low quality of films. The big concern for the Bollywood industry today is piracy and one of the reasons why piracy takes place is because you have created a demand for the film among your consumers but have failed to provide the supply of films as a result the curious audience go for pirated versions. Digital cinema, I believe, is the only solution to this problem.”
Taking a different stance, Shah said, “Ever since 1999 to this very day all I get to hear is ‘the future is digital’, ‘digital is here’, but where is digital? We need to do some reality check ourselves. It is this very digital that is instrumental in creating this huge problem of piracy. Digital is the real culprit in creating piracy, and with too much of distribution available, the real pain I believe is the marketing cost.”
Summing up the discussion, Shastri said, “The industry has a future, we too have a future and the future, I would still say, is digital. It may not be the format it is in today, however, digital is here to stay.”
Internet is the new television
Another session discussed whether Internet had redefined entertainment, whether online media would replace television and whether gaming would revolutionise the bottom line of the entertainment industry.
The panellists included Rohit Sharma, COO, Zapak; Ajay Khanna, GM - India, EA Games; Ashish Kashyap, CEO, Ibibo; Bruno Goveas, Head - Marketing and Product Management, Akamai Technologies; and Parminder Singh, Business Head - Technology and Media, Google India. This session was moderated by Jaspreet Bindra, Regional Director - Entertainment and Devices, Microsoft India.
Commencing the session, Bindra noted, “Television is a lean back medium, while PC is a lean forward medium, which gradually is also becoming a lean back medium.”
Speaking on the innovation in games and social gaming, Khanna said, “A game is the most cost effective medium even the female interest is growing in gaming. Social gaming can be the newest gaming platform attracting millions of users.”
According to Goveas, “It is the content that is going to drive not only the customers, but also the revenue. Sooner you get the content, the faster you would get your customers. So, what the industry needs today is automation, syndication and insight. It also needs a media player network and what is now advocated is the open source initiative to create a video source advertisers. Today, users are getting impatient as they want a better quality.”
Singh was of the opinion that the consumer landscape was shifting and search for blogs were gaining popularity as compared to the magazines.
Kashyap was of the opinion that the Internet was redefining entertainment.
Sharma added here, “India is poised to be one of the biggest gaming industries in the world and the revenues of the gaming industry have by far even crossed the music industry revenues. Just as in the West, India, too, will see console and online games co-exist with each other while the online games will see a mass interest, the console games will see the elites hound over. India is lagging because of the broadband penetration, which is low and gaming in any country can proliferate only if there is a proper infrastructure at place.”