MipCom 2007 kicked off on October 8 at Cannes with India Day, and the focus once again was on the India growth story. Speaker after speaker discussed the changes in the Indian media, digital and entertainment sectors, and the expectations in these sectors in times to come.
The morning session, which was organised by FICCI, began with an address by Ranjan Mathai, India’s Ambassador to France. Mathai’s address revolved around the thought that even as content was on the move, and India could be credited with content creation in every language, every genre, directed at almost every target group. “Content is a function in which one cannot follow the leader,” he said.
Mathai added, “If you see ancient Indian history, there is evidence of exchange of ideas even then, and given our rich culture, India has a lot to offer. In today’s times, the economic growth of the country has made an impact in every sector, and media and entertainment have been no different, with content playing a more critical role than ever.”
His presentation was followed by that of Kunal Dasgupta, CEO, SET India and FICCI Co-Chair, who gave an overview on the Indian market with a focus on media and entertainment. Almost all speakers cited figures to highlight the growth of the Indian entertainment and media industry, which indicated that the industry today stands at $12 billion and is expected to grow at 18 per cent per annum CAGR.
With the economy doing well, the industry is expected to out-perform the growth of the economy by a significant margin in the coming year due to a large consumer base, rising income, escalating demand for content and a variety of new technology platforms.
With this as the background, Dasgupta further informed that television had the highest share in the Indian industry followed by print. He quoted share figures to show that in television, subscription was at 62 per cent, advertising revenues were at 34 per cent, while content was at 4 per cent, which, according to Dasgupta, was an area of opportunity.
He also took the audience through the trends in the film industry, music industry and the radio industry, explaining the piracy problems of the music industry and the growth story of radio. According to Dasgupta, the Indian legal structure also presented various opportunities for international organisations to work with Indian companies. Some of these opportunities ranged from the kinds already done in India in the form of adapting to international formats to building branded blocks on television in India.
He reiterated that the new Indian viewers, who were young, led a more balanced life in work and play, had modern as well as traditional outlooks and, most importantly, were proud to be Indians, gave an indication of the kind of preferences that the viewers had today. He also spoke of new trends in distribution platforms that would impact the television business in India – genres that are ruling now like mass entertainment, regional channels, Hindi movies, and genres that are fast growing like news, sports, kids and English entertainment.
Dasgupta concluded his presentation saying, “India is the fastest growing economy with a huge talent pool. There is a lot of untapped potential here, and that is the promise of the future in India.” He even quoted Sony Head Howard Stringer, ‘Indian creative and content is world-class and it is about time it got its due’.
TV is boring – Gaming and Animation is the future
Even as most speakers couldn’t speak enough on the way television was growing in India and the various opportunities that it offered, some of the speakers in the ‘Global TV Trends’ session that focussed on India stated that television was boring. According to them, gaming and animation were where the future was. This session was moderated by Neeraj Roy, MD and CEO, Hungama Mobile.
The opening address of this session was given by Ashok Rajgopal, Partner, Business Advisory Services, Ernst & Young. Rajgopal took the audience through three key points – the global market for Indian content; the need for differentiated content with the increasing demand in content; and India becoming a global hub for content creation.
He divided viewers into three clusters, indicating that there was space for all kinds of content – from the hardcore Indian content, which was seen in the soaps on television today to character-based shows on India’s historical and mythological heroes that would have a global audience. He also said that technology had leapfrogged in India to create new kinds of content.
A panel discussion followed this address, wherein Vishal Gondal, Founder and CEO, Indiagames, stated, “TV is boring. India is a very young country, and for the youth, just watching television is no longer interesting. Very recently, Orkut was voted as the youth icon.” Gondal cited examples to prove that digital was where the revenues were headed for any big media company today. He said that the need in India was to close in gaps like being able to offer micro-transactions in mediums like gaming so that it was easier to lure the youth to it.
He also said that India was moving up the value chain fast in offering original games, with examples like Sony, which had recently unveiled plans to launch a massive online game based on the Indian epic the ‘Ramayana’ soon.
Soundarya Rajnikanth, MD, Ocher Studios, gave the animation perspective here. Citing her forthcoming movie ‘Sultan, The Warrior’ as an example, she elaborated that the Indian animation industry in India was growing. She said, “There is a lot that can be done still, but we are on the right track. The attempt is to prove that animation is for all ages, and that original animation can be produced in India, which is not just on mythologies, but also can be stories like we see otherwise.”
Where Rajnikanth was of the opinion that the Indian industry was moving from being just creative partners to being solution providers to the global animation industry, DQ Entertainment’s Tapas Chakravarti sited the DQ experience showing that the company had worked with French companies, and companies based in the US and Canada for the animation domain. He pointed out that India was already producing content for the global markets and that the industry was set to grow at 49 per cent. He added, “It is time Indian companies searched for partners rather than just outsourcing services, and I think that will drive the future growth.”
Anuraddha Prasad, MD, BAG Films & Media, was another speaker on this panel. She spoke on the importance of a 360-degree approach in content. Prasad took the audience through the changing tastes in viewer preferences today, stating that things like song and dance, which are a part of the Indian culture, have to be respected by the people today if they want to be able to do anything in India. She spoke of growth coming from a digital democracy, the formation of infrastructure of a knowledge economy and that every aspect of content today was becoming ‘consumerable’.