<b>Myleeta Aga</b>, General Manager & Creative Head, BBC Worldwide Productions India

We are very passionate about bringing in different ideas to the market, to be innovative and do things differently. For instance, with reality shows, we are training producers to also learn how to film. We are leveraging the resources we have and combining that with finding fabulous talent here and training them so that we can do different things. We ensure we match audience preferences by doing systemic audience research and then tailoring our products to the number of niche areas available in the Indian viewer market. We also rely strongly on our global exposure and experience in the entertainment, media and television world to bring in strong differentiation.

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Dec 1, 2011 12:00 AM
<b>Myleeta Aga</b>, General Manager & Creative Head, BBC Worldwide Productions India

We are very passionate about bringing in different ideas to the market, to be innovative and do things differently. For instance, with reality shows, we are training producers to also learn how to film. We are leveraging the resources we have and combining that with finding fabulous talent here and training them so that we can do different things. We ensure we match audience preferences by doing systemic audience research and then tailoring our products to the number of niche areas available in the Indian viewer market. We also rely strongly on our global exposure and experience in the entertainment, media and television world to bring in strong differentiation.

Myleeta Aga is currently General Manager and Creative Head of BBC Worldwide Productions India. BBC Worldwide Productions India is part of BBCW’s network of production bases, the others being Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, Paris and Sydney.

Aga oversees BBCW India’s current productions of ‘Jhalak Dikhla Jaa’ (‘Dancing With the Stars’) for Sony Entertainment, ‘Wife Bina Life’ for Star Plus and ‘Firangi Tadka’ for FoodFood channel, as well as working with a wide range of local talent and broadcasters in India. ‘Jhalak…’ has been the top rated non-fiction show of the year.

Aga returned to India as Head of Content and Co-founder of Media e2e in 2007, where she was involved with the development and launch of India’s first TV guidance channel ‘What’s On India’. Prior to this, she was Executive Producer at the Travel Channel based in the US. Here she co-developed, produced and launched Travel Channel’s Emmy winning, most successful series to date: ‘Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations’. ‘No Reservations’, now in its sixth season, earned Aga an Emmy nomination for Best Non-fiction Series. The series airs across 50 countries.

Prior to her assignment with the Travel Channel, Aga represented the International Networks at Discovery Communications and worked as an Executive Producer for Fremantle Asia, based in Jakarta.

In an interaction with exchange4media’s Shree Lahiri, Aga speaks at length about the various television properties that BBC Worldwide has launched in India and the road ahead...



Q. How and when and why did you decide to get into producing entertainment content? Because India is an important market for BBC Worldwide, the Mumbai production base was launched (in 2007) to license and produce the wide range of formats on BBC Worldwide’s catalogue to local broadcasters as well as develop our own formats.

Q. Do you have any original Indian show in the pipeline? Fiction is a key focus for us in the year ahead. We have brought on a very talented young team and are developing concepts for various channels.

Q. Could you share some TAM rating numbers for your major shows in India? These are the peak ratings for our series:
5.6 – ‘Jhalak Dikhla Jaa’ (one of the highest ratings on Sony)
4.3 – ‘Wife Bina Life’ (Star Plus)
4.3 – ‘Desi Girl’ (Imagine TV)
4.3 – ‘Pati Patni aur Woh’ (which had the highest rating on Imagine TV)

Q. What is the profile of the advertisers that have come on board for your shows? While this is a question more for the channels, the shows we have produced have generally attracted top advertisers from around the country.

Q. Please take us through what went into the making of ‘Jhalak Dikhla Jaa’? How did you decide on an India version of ‘Dancing with the Stars’? ‘Dancing with the Stars’ has been named the world’s most successful reality TV format. It was only a matter of time before it entered a large market like India with all its international success. We have produced two seasons in India as ‘Jhalak Dikhla Jaa’. The last season saw Madhuri Dixit return to India as a judge on the show. It has been a great success for BBC Worldwide Productions India and Sony Television, opening with TRPs of over 5. The Indian version of course has been extensively remodeled to appeal to the country’s viewers. The dances are typically more exuberant than on its sister programmes around the world, owing to India’s unique Bollywood traditions.

‘Dancing with the Stars’ (DWTS) has become an international phenomenon and has notched up over 30 international TV awards and countless nominations. For ‘Jhalak Dikhla Jaa’, we also worked closely with Sony Television on having the right mix of celebrities and ensuring a range of dance forms from India’s cultural heritage were reflected in the series. This contributed to its excellent ratings.

Q. One normally associates BBC with news and news-based programmes. How, when and why did you decide to get into producing entertainment content? BBC Worldwide is a media entertainment company and the commercial arm of the BBC. While the BBC, the UK’s public service broadcaster, is known throughout the world for its news coverage, it also produces a huge range of fantastic programmes. BBC Worldwide’s mission is to maximise profits on behalf of the BBC by investing in great brands and content, from the BBC and independent production companies, and exploiting them around the world.

BBC Worldwide has six operating businesses: Channels | Content & Productions | Digital Entertainment | Sales & Distribution |Brands, Consumers & New Ventures/ Consumer Products | Magazines.

BBC Worldwide Productions India sits within the Content and Production business, which has a global network of wholly-owned local production offices in LA, Mumbai and Paris and partners in Cologne, Toronto, Moscow, Sydney, Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo. The India base serves the vibrant Indian market and has worked on shows across genres, including studio base entertainment, reality shows, general entertainment shows, lifestyle formats, films, fiction series and advertising films.

Q. For how long now has BBC Worldwide Productions India been producing reality shows? BBC Worldwide Productions set up in India in late 2007 with its office in Mumbai. We have produced high profile, innovative shows, including ‘Desi Girl’ on Imagine TV, ‘Pati Patni aur Who’ on Imagine TV, ‘Jhalak Dikhla Jaa’ Seasons 3 and 4 for Sony Television, ‘Wife Bina Life’ for Star Plus, ‘Firangi Tadka’ for FoodFood Channel, and most recently ‘Chef Pankaj Ka Zayka’ for Star Plus.

We have been bringing in not just international bestselling formats, but creative concepts which we adapt to the Indian market. For example, earlier this year we produced ‘The Week the Women Went’ for Star Plus. This show premiered as ‘Wife Bina Life’ in India. ‘Wife Bina Life’ was a breakthrough concept that was never seen before on Indian television. In the show, family life is turned upside down when all the women of a community leave home for a holiday and the men remain behind with children. The show involved entire families, real people and reflected the change in attitude and perspective towards family that is happening in our culture. We were thrilled to bring such a popular format to India and adapt it to the local environment.

Q. Do you think today there is an overabundance of talent hunt reality shows on Indian television – ‘Jhalak Dikhla Jaa’, ‘Dance India Dance’, ‘India’s Got Talent’, ‘The X-Factor’... The Indian entertainment market is large, and the fact that there are so many reality shows being absorbed by the viewers is a testament to the size and breadth of the market. Due to that, there is space for everyone in the value chain to prosper – from the viewer, who gets a multitude of choice, to the advertisers, producers, artists and the channels. What BBC Worldwide is doing is that we are raising the bar with quality formats and well researched programmes, adapted uniquely to the Indian audience.

Q. How do you ensure differentiation for your shows? We are very passionate about bringing in different ideas to the market, to be innovative and do things differently. For instance, with reality shows, we are training producers to also learn how to film. For certain shows you need small crews, where you can get intimate with your content giver. We are leveraging the resources we have and combining that with finding fabulous talent here and training them so that we can do different things. That’s something I am personally passionate about.

We ensure we match audience preferences by doing systemic audience research and then tailoring our products to the number of niche areas available in the Indian viewer market. We also rely strongly on our global exposure and experience in the entertainment, media and television world to bring in strong differentiation.

Q. Besides ‘Jhalak Dikhla Jaa’, ‘Firangi Tadka’ and ‘Wife Bina Life’, which other shows have you lined up and when will they go on air? We have just produced ‘Chef Pankaj Ka Zayka’ for Star Plus. ‘Chef Pankaj ka Zayka’ is on air and is a cooking show with a difference, as we have strived to make cooking more exciting and engaging for the audience. With an impressive line-up of guests for company, ranging from popular faces on Indian television to renowned celebrity chefs, Chef Pankaj makes cooking fun, uninhibited and transforms food into an art form. She helps the Indian housewife solve her kitchen issues, surprises her and takes her on a culinary ride like never before.

Additionally, we have got several BBC Worldwide formats that we are bringing into the market. We also have plans to do fiction. We have a lot of different home grown ideas for non-fiction next year. We have ambitious plans and are committed to this market.

Q. What are the factors that you keep in mind when adapting international shows for the Indian audience? Formats are generally tried and tested in several markets. We bring to India, those that have already shown a high degree of success. Having said that, not only does our market have cultural differences with other international markets, India itself has its own internal cultural differences. We seek themes and formats that appeal to a pan-Indian viewership.

When we adapt an international show, we do in depth research to assess audience expectations of the show. This research enables us to modify the format and create an appeal for the unique Indian audience. For example, in ‘Wife Bina Life’, together with Star Plus, we modified an observational documentary by adding an element of competition in order to make it suitable for the Star Plus audiences. While this kept the core of the format, we adapted the message.

Q. What kind of marketing and promotional activities do you undertake for your shows? We work closely with the channel to provide them access to quality sets, stars and celebrities and access to these stars. Our marketing and promotional strength lies in the value we bring to our partnership with the channels in terms of every aspect of production.

Q. Have you entered into any exclusive content tie-up with any broadcaster in India? No, we are very loyal to our broadcasting partners to whom we have issued licenses of the formats, which are then distributed by them.

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