For almost a year now, international production houses and format houses like FBC and FreMantle Media have been looking at India very closely. More on these lines was seen when Endemol launched its Indian subsidiary in January 2006. With some of the major shows on TV coming from the Endemol stable, the production house has raised expectations in the content arena.
Whether it is ‘The Great Indian Laughter Challenge – Dviteeya’ that Endemol is producing for STAR India or ‘Fear Factor’ (though at present it isn’t developed by Endemol India, it still is an Endemol product), Endemol India is already occupying primetime space and working with major broadcasters in just three months of its existence. For an international production house this is good news and action at a good pace.
For Endemol India’s MD, Rajesh Kamat, the performance of both ‘TGILC’ and ‘Fear Factor’ matters. Giving his point of view on this Kamat said, “We are producing ‘TGILC’, and the apprehensions that the industry had about an international production house being able to take on a project in India is addressed by the numbers that the show is throwing.”
He further said, “At the same time, this is the initial phase for Endemol India and it is very important that Endemol brands settle here, which is why a ‘Fear Factor’ is also important to us, even though we aren’t directly producing it.” Kamat explained that non-fiction shows like ‘Fear Factor’ thrived on seasons and hence, the establishment of the property was of significance to Endemol India’s growth. The Friday line-up on Hindi GEC per se is close to Endemol India, and the reason is 8.00 pm onwards, the company has something for the Indian audience.
‘Deal Ya No Deal’ takes the 8.00 pm slot, ‘Fear Factor’ is on the 9.00 pm slot followed by ‘TGILC’ on STAR One. Both ‘Fear Factor’ and ‘TGILC’ are doing well on a continual 5 plus and these are some of the highest numbers coming from these channels. However, there is also a show like ‘Deal Ya No Deal’, which is at a 1 plus.
How does Endemol view this performance? “Just as Sony officials say, these are good numbers that the channel is seeing and the show is seeing some very innovative work happening on every episode and there is a buzz around it – all implying that we can expect more from the show,” replied Kamat.
Hitherto, most Endemol formats in the country were taken over by Indian production houses with Endemol officials working as consultants. What change can be expected on this front with Endemol India coming in the picture? “Well I can tell you that we would be producing most of our formats in India now, if not all,” replied Kamat. “As a business model, 70 per cent of revenues come from producing formats than just selling them and that is one of the reasons of entry into a country. We have already made our presence felt in terms of the kind of content that can be expected from us, and now we can leverage that and show production expertise as well.”
A consequent change that has come in comparison to the initial plans of Endemol India in on the people front. Instead of hiring people on a project basis, Endemol India is building a team now. “We started with the project basis hire approach, but the way I see my calendar, there are projects overlapping through the year and so the people we are signing on right now are annual basis. Team building, especially on the creative side, is priority for us right now,” maintained Kamat.
At present, Endemol hasn’t created any quantity targets in terms of number of programming hours that it should be producing in a year, or Kamat chooses not to divulge it. What he does give more information on is that Endemol India will have shows across channels and genres and this would be evident over the next three months. Also, the production house is looking at the advertiser-funded projects very closely. “Advertisers are looking at it keenly and so are broadcasters – so we see huge potential in that area as well,” said Kamat.
Given that Endemol is the third international player in the arena, does Kamat see place for so many international players when there is a whole host of Indian producers as well in the segment? “We have 240 channels and there are more coming. The need for both quality and quantity of programming is increasingly. From that point of view, yes there is space for multiple players in the segment. Also, the organised sector in production is something that the industry is waiting to see. That with entertainment growing at the phenomenal rate that it is, I would say, the more the merrier,” maintained Kamat.