We are bullish about how content is being acquired right now: Abhishek Rege, Endemol Shine

Abhishek Rege, CEO, Endemol Shine India says his focus is on reducing their dependence on non-scripted shows and carving a niche in the fiction and film space

Abhishek Rege Endemol Shine India

Since taking over as CEO of Endemol Shine India, Abhishek Rege’s focus has been on ideating concepts and investing in talent. Looking ahead, Rege says that the focus is on reducing its dependence on non-scripted shows and carving a niche in the fiction and film space and strengthening the regional play.

How has the journey been since taking over as CEO at Endemol Shine India? What have been the challenges?

In my earlier role as the COO at Endemol Shine India, I have donned multiple hats, from legal to production, etc and also been responsible for the P&L. This helped ease me into my current role. However, the current role entails a lot more focus on strategy and that has been exciting to oversee and execute and hopefully our plans will now pay off.

Can you elaborate on the strategic part?

While the regular P&L is important, you have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and decide on what the long-term vision is. So, over the last year, our primary focus has been on investing in developing talent and ideating on concepts and that period of incubation is now paying off. While we will continue to look at syndicated shows - from across the world and the Endemol Shine catalogue to be produced in India, we are also focussed on developing original ideas and scripted shows. We are investing in developing ideas to a bible stage where how we can make it work as a series, over multiple seasons. Secondly, we have acquired the rights for books such as Opium Clerk by Kunal Basu, Maharaja Mystery series by Arjun Raj Gaind and many more. We have also signed a ten-book deal with Robin Cook, which will be for the digital platform as well as for theatrical films, which will go into production by the end of the year.

What is your strategy for films?

We want to be seen as a serious player and are looking at a pipeline of three to four films every year whenever we start. It cannot be a start and stop process. We will target a good mix of both big and small budget films. We are looking to co-produce movies with potential partners.

How are you looking at the regional space?

We are largely seen as a non-scripted player in the regional space. We have adapted Bigg Boss, Deal or No Deal, The Money Drop in the regional markets and even created original productions such as Super Kudumbam for Sun TV. We currently focus on six languages - Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Telugu, Marathi, and Bengali. We are now looking at scripted shows in Tamil and Telugu this year. The next step will be scripted shows in these regional languages and we are looking to build our team strength and bandwidth in these markets. The target is not only the Television space but also in the regional OTT space and we are looking at premium content on various platforms. But we will progress slowly and steadily and focus on quality content and positive response from consumers.

Bigg Boss continues to be the biggest revenue driver. Are you thus looking to de-risk from this property and increase your revenue base?

We are first seen as a non-scripted company and then for Bigg Boss. That being said, our dependence on non-scripted will slowly decrease. While we will continue to grow in non-scripted space, our focus is on growing the scripted business. In terms of numbers, currently non-fiction contributes to 85% of our revenues and by 2022, we are looking at the contribution from scripted and non-scripted being equal, ie. 50:50. In the scripted space, finite & finite premium are the two focus areas, on Television as well as on OTT.

What is the revenue split between Hindi and Regional? How do you see this pan out looking ahead?   

While in Regional the number of hours of content and volume is higher, the ticket size is larger in Hindi and thus the bigger revenue driver and the split is about 60:40. As far as revenues are concerned, we don’t look at it from a Hindi and Regional standpoint but as scripted and non-scripted. Finite Scripted content can be for Television but we are looking for growth largely in the OTT space. The sheer number of OTT platforms has suddenly changed the game and the requirement for content has grown significantly.

What has growth been like?

We are looking at approximately 20% growth YoY. We are looking trying to push this growth rate further.

What can we expect to see from Endemol Shine India this year?

We will soon be launching the second season of Test Case on Alt Balaji. 2019 will hopefully see the resurgence of MasterChef India in Hindi. The food genre has become very large and we want to merge the potential this genre allows for interactivity with the marketing tools that are present today. We are taking a 360-degree approach to the show which will help the broadcaster, digital platform and us do better, and also aid marketing and sponsorship opportunities. In addition, we are looking at bringing down our international game show formats such as"The Wall", "1 Versus 100". In the OTT space, the reality is one of the biggest drivers and the digital platforms offer you great opportunity to do a short series in this genre. We are in talks with multiple OTT platforms for the same.

We are very bullish on the way content is being acquired right now. Though there is a high demand for content, we are gunning for quality over quantity. We are focussed on what we can deliver, taking it slow and putting the right product out. This focus on quality products will help establish us as a key player in the finite scripted space by 2020.

We are also in the process of putting together an international co-production in association with our Group associates Artists Studio, DoveTale Media and Shekhar Kapur for, The Ibis Trilogy - the bestselling novels by Amitav Ghosh. We are focusing on projects where we could play a key role as a producer, co-producer, etc. The content will be stories with an Indian background made for the global audience. This is our first step in that direction

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