In a conversation with exchange4media, Rajjat A.Barjatya, MD &CEO Rajshri Entertainment talks about the future of digital prospects in India and what are the hurdles in letting digital take higher strides in India.
Where do you see the future of digital as a genre in India?
Digital is not the future. It is the present. With over two billion plus views on our channels and millions of views on other platforms I wouldn’t risk saying that digital is the future. Digital is very much the present. It is reshaping media landscape in terms of audience consumption from traditional to digital. The young consumer is adopting digital with vengeance. Therefore digital would be very much the present.
In that case in India which platform is more robust as of now: mobile or non-mobile?
It is irrespective of the device. You are living in a multiple device world. People who access YouTube do it through more than one device. It is the audience which is not watching too much of television. Print ads today mention the YouTube channel URLs. Therefore digital is the medium where most of the consumption is happening, irrespective of the device. At Rajshri we have 45 per cent of our views from the mobile device and the rest non-mobile.
Where do you see this trend going?
I see a jump in this trend month on month. I would not be surprised in 12-18 months from now if this figure (consumption on mobile) is between 65-80 per cent. India is a mobile first country.
What is the audience profile which accesses your digital platform?
It depends firstly from platform to platform and secondly within a platform. The audience in general is young, tech savvy, aspirational and educated. Digital puts the hand in power of consumer where he decides what to watch. The shift has already happened in India especially among the youth. This is also evident on our regional channels.
Online is generally perceived to be a random viewership medium. Do you agree with this theory?
Not anymore. YouTube has now become a category in itself. When one thinks of video, one thinks of YouTube. Google has become a verb. Within YouTube, they have focused extensively on the subscriber. Rajshri channel for example has got 1.25 million subscribers which has now become the currency. The platform therefore is trying to create loyalty towards that brand. Our food channel has 55 thousand subscribers. There are fans who come and go but these fans want to engage with you. They want to receive constant updates.
Where is India on your priority list?
India is a very important on our priority list but today 4 out of 5 dollars for us come from overseas. This is the reality today which will change once the advertising ecosystem, broadband infrastructure, better networks and devices are in place in the country.
What is the problem with the advertising ecosystem on digital in India?
We need more advertisers who invest on digital. Larger and larger percentage of budgets has to go on digital against the traditional media, and I am seeing that happening. In the US and UK the revenues from digital have exceeded the revenues from traditional. India is still a few years away from that. It is not happening in India because of weak internet infrastructure, lack of better devices, etc. With 4G round the corner the LTE (Long term Evolution) network is going to be used to consume rich media which is videos and games. With better broadband connections this is going to improve. Connectivity and better devices is also another challenge which needs to be addressed.
What is the digital content market in India according to you?
We don’t keep the Indian audience in mind while making our content. Our audience is digital and therefore global. We have a channel called Bollywood now which delivers Bollywood news and gossip. Over 50 per cent of our audience in this case is from outside of India. However, In India we see insatiable demand for entertainment content. The content could be on cinema, television or digital device particularly mobile phones. In India a lot of people access videos on their mobile phones rather than their PCs. Religion is a genre which is hugely followed in India. Our devotional channel has a very strong India following.
Where do you see the revenue source going from here?
There are three models essentially: Transaction VoD, Advertising VoD, and Subscription VoD. In India it is the advertising VoD market which is going to be most prevalent. Revenue is going to be huge from the advertising VoD market. For that we need more advertising on the medium. There is a lot of mainstream media content on YouTube. Increasingly with the internet generating more and more revenue; there will be people like us. Today we produce over 150 minutes of original video content in-house everyday for digital. The CAGR for digital has been the highest as compared to other mediums in recent years according to the FICCI KPMG report.
Do you have any expectations from the new Government?
I really hope the Government supports enabling of highly robust internet infrastructure. Conceptually, the government should work the way Japanese and Korean Government have worked. They have actually encouraged the adoption of broadband at the grassroots level. It is a combination of the private and Government sector.