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Production houses will need to unlearn to understand digital: Suresh Menon

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Production houses will need to unlearn to understand digital: Suresh Menon

Suresh Menon is a person who wears many hats. As an actor and comedian he has appeared in films like Chalte Chalte, Phir Hera Pheri and Partner, to name a few. He has participated in the reality show “Jhalak Dikhla Ja”. He also has a podcast with VJ Jose called “Kaanmasti”. But it is in his role as MD and Co-founder of One Network Entertainment, a digital content company he started in 2014. One currently boasts of 74 channels on YouTube with cumulative views of 125+ million. In an e-mail interview with exchange4media, Menon talks about the digital content industry and One Network’s future plans. Excerpts.

There are a number of digital content companies right now. How do you differentiate yourself?
We are a 'Talent First' online media company which is ‘made in video, made for digital, curated for consumption’. We are building the largest online repository of online videos, personalities and brands that are platform agnostic. Our content is distributed across multiple online platforms across the world. We have to date created over 10,000+ videos and garnered over 125 million views on You Tube itself apart from being available on numerous global platforms. Our core focus area is comedy and we work with possibly the largest number of comedic talent in the country. We work closely with a large number of brands who get an opportunity to work directly with the creators of online video content.

One Network works directly with brands. We have seen AIB launch its own brand creative division. Are we entering a phase where content companies like yourself are cutting out the creative agencies? 

We work with a large number of both agencies and clients to create online videos and our strength comes from our talent, our creators and our understanding of the online audience. We do not compete with agencies but complement each other, working closely with them to create memorable online videos which connect with the audience.

What is the revenue model for One? Is subscription-based model something you are looking at? Is the Indian market ready for it?
We have three revenue streams including ad supported platforms, subscription supported platforms and brand supported content. We believe that consumers will pay for premium and exclusive content at the right price point.

Can you tell us more about your partnership with PING? 
Ping is amongst the largest MCN's on YouTube in the country and we work closely with them in the creation, distribution and monetization of content. We also complement each other in the content genres as we bring comedic content to their Lifestyle and News genres, making it a great synergetic relationship.

The digital ecosystem is thriving. What is the next stage in the evolution? 
Yes, eyeballs are definitely shifting to digital media but it's still early days. The growth of smartphones and mobile internet, launch of high speed bandwidth and the creation of original content will drive this growth.

Internet content is usually viewed as "free" by audiences. How does one change this outlook?
Non exclusive, generic content is free but we believe consumers will pay for premium, exclusive and personalized content. Unless there is consistent investment in creation of good quality premium and differentiated content we cannot expect the consumer to pay.

With big production houses also getting into the digital content game, is it a challenge for start-ups in terms of attracting and retaining talent, competing for brands and viewer attention, etc.?
Not really. A lot of them are in talks with creative shops like us to commission content for them. They will have to completely unlearn what they know to understand this new medium.

Could you tell us about the roadmap for One Network going forward?
We are building the largest repository of online comedy content, talent, brands and personalities working closely with brands on one side and platforms on the other.

In terms of content what can we expect to see from One.
We are creating a lot of comedy content ranging from jokes and spoofs on one hand to web series on the other. 

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