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The world of ‘realisable possibilities’ has just exploded: Sudhanshu Vats

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The world of ‘realisable possibilities’ has just exploded: Sudhanshu Vats

Sudhanshu Vats, Chairman, CII National Committee on Media & Entertainment and Group CEO, Viacom 18 Media, addressed the gathering at CII. Compelling the audience consisting of leading minds from the private, public and academic sectors, to reflect on important questions of voluntary, self-regulation framework in terms of what should be allowed and what shouldn’t- for advertisements and content, definition of the M&E industry today and how it has evolved, Vats charted out a blueprint for the media and entertainment industry to reach its coveted size of $100 billion by the year 2020. 

Pondering over whether the industry bigwigs have become too old to see beyond 2020, or if the internet has made “us all intellectually lazy”, Vats explained how the definition of the future has become more ‘condensed’.

Excerpts from the speech:

As ironical as it sounds, the future has become shorter. For the sake of clarity, look at it this way: 20 years ago, it took maybe 15 years for ‘x’ number of disruptions, 10 years ago it only took, maybe 10 years for the same number i.e. ‘x’ number of disruptions. Today, it only takes 5 years for the same number of disruptions. So, in a manner of speaking, our definition of the future has become more ‘condensed’.

This very reality has enormous implications for all of us.

For private sector organizations, we need to improve our time-to –market for new products and services, we need to be able to quickly take aim, fire and reload, before repeating the process.

For the world of academia, the sheer amount of throughput needs to increase. R&D cycles need to have shorter durations and allow for mid-way course correction. Inter-disciplinary learning is another area of focus. Several worlds are converging and academic disciplines should be no exception.

For the government, and Rathoreji (Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting) can shed more light on this, the public want the entire government machinery to be able to deliver on its expectations, sooner than they did before. This also means that policy roadmaps have to get shorter. Given the complexity of the Indian market, if we can’t crunch these roadmaps we need to at least ensure that we stick to them. The duration of political lifecycles generally hover around 5 years, now you see news channels looking at 1 year, 100 day and even 1-month report cards! Sometimes I feel that the government faces more pressure from the electorate than public companies face from their investors for quarterly targets!

It’s very important to understand these implications because when the public, private and academic worlds align, magic is created. We talk of USD ABCD Bn as a target and so on and so forth. It’s simply a fictional goal post if we can’t get different stakeholders to work together. I understand the theme of this conference is aiming for a 100 Bn USD Target for our industry, but I’d like to challenge the status quo by asking a fundamental question that I hope you can ponder over these two days: what defines our industry? If our audience is empowered to buy the dupatta worn by Ragini while watching Swaragini on Colors on their mobile phones, how will it impact our target?

I’d like to leave you with a way of thinking that I believe can be applied to any M&E organization, irrespective of the sub-sector i..e radio, TV, digital etc.. It’s arguably a much simpler definition of our value chain. There are only three participants in this value chain: creators of content, content platforms and communities. Advertisers don’t need to be called out separately as they too are a community. All of these sit on the foundation of a regulatory framework created by the government. What’s even more interesting is that this value chain is no longer, necessarily linear. All three participants can interact with each other in different ways. An organization’s understanding of where it fits in this value chain has a lot of bearing on the capabilities it needs to build and invest in.

Content creators have to look at nurturing a dispersed universe of storytellers that is talented, loyal and always engaged. Platforms have to make investments in technology that allow them to reach out to communities. Communities are almost the reason as to why most of us exist, whether it’s our audiences or our advertisers. We have to figure out way of getting them closer to one another and developing a constant feedback loop mechanism to make our engagement more fruitful. Most importantly, we have to look at a voluntary, self-regulation framework in terms of what should be allowed and what shouldn’t- for advertisements and content.

“The world of ‘realisable possibilities’ has just exploded. The Future has become shorter and our canvas has gotten bigger” concluded Vats. 

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