Large format TV shows is an area of interest for us: Sudip Sanyal, GroupM MCG

GroupM MCG business head Sanyal speaks to e4m about the business unit’s content strategy, the business growth, and the plans ahead

e4m by Javed Farooqui
Updated: Dec 28, 2020 9:21 AM
sudip sanyal

GroupM’s Motion Content Group (MCG) has come a long way since it began in 2017. In the last three years, the MCG has executed 30-odd projects across TV, digital, and radio landscape. It boasts of IPs like No. 1 Yaari and Critics Choice Awards besides a number of regional shows.

While regional content is a big focus area for MCG, it has also set its eyes on the Hindi non-fiction space. GroupM MCG business head Sudip Sanyal spoke to exchange4media about the business unit’s content strategy, the business growth, and the plans ahead.
Excerpts:
How has 2020 been for GroupM’s Motion Content Group?
2020 has been a good year for us. In fact, it has been a good year for most content producers. We had 3X growth in projects in 2020. So, it has been a good year for us not just from a business perspective but also from a learning perspective. We executed a full-fledged lockdown production from a remote location called Britannia Stars Chef. Seven days before lockdown, we had to move Critics Choice Awards online. We did a virtual event and we saw a solid response with 75 million viewers.
What kind of content projects have you done since inception?
The 30-odd projects that we have done so far have been across media. We also had a strong focus on regional space. We have done quite a few projects there. We did No. 1 Yaari and we started with Telugu followed by Tamil (Hello Sago), Marathi, and Kannada. We have also done Yaari Jam in Hindi.
We have also done three back-to-back Tamil shows on Sun TV like ‘Namma Ooru Hero’ and ‘Sun Naam Oruvar’. We also did ‘Run’ which is again in the Tamil space on TV and Digital. We have done something called ‘Tollywood Squares’, a Telugu game show.
What we also do is that when we do a content project, we don’t do it only on TV. We do it on TV as well as digital. So, it is on a much larger scale. The way we strategically place content is that we have a TV leg and then we have an OTT leg. Basically, we partner with a number 1 or 2 GEC in that market and then there is OTT as well. So that’s how a lot of our content has played out.
What is the strategy behind having a separate TV and a digital run for shows?
In India, there are two distinct audiences. There is an audience that watches a lot of TV and an audience that watched a lot of OTT. For us, both mediums are important from a brand perspective as well as a content creator. We ensure that the content we produce is both TV as well as OTT friendly. We want to ensure that we deliver ROI for our clients.
What are the content projects planned for 2021?
In Q1 2021, we have three big IPs. These are the Critics' Choice Awards third edition and No. 1 Yaari season 3 along with Rana Dagubatti. Then, we are going to launch a third project. We have got four digital shows which are then going to follow up.
Plus, we have ‘Vallamai Tharayo’ which is going to go on. It is the first digital daily fiction. It’s probably the first digital daily fiction in the world. It features 80 episodes and has got 11 million views. We launched it on October 26th and it’s going to go on till February and we want to come back with a second season.
We will also come back with newer seasons of existing IPs like No. 1 Yaari and Critics' Choice Awards. We want to go big in the regional space.
From a national perspective, we are looking at large scale formats. We are already having conversations on this. Large format TV shows is definitely an area of interest for us. Because there hasn’t been a large-scale non-fiction show that has come to India for a long time. A lot of shows have been going on for some time. We would be really happy to collaborate with the right partner for a large-scale Hindi non-fiction show.
What is your content strategy?
We are a content-first team but we don’t do AFPs (advertiser-funded programmes). We first decide on a content theme that we want to go with. Once we zero in on the content that we want to produce and invest in we get the best of creators and platforms on board and then we decide how can brands integrate into the show. The rest everything goes exactly as they would do for a normal show. Because we have GroupM DNA we know that ROI is very important for every brand so that becomes critical for us while evaluating any content project.
How do you evaluate whether or not to invest in a content project?
 
We have an in-house team that evaluates content. We evaluate all shows or content projects that we come across and these can come either from producers or content creators or even from platforms where they want us to collaborate in creating some projects off the ground. We get involved in the show right from inception.
What is the ROI for brands by partnering with an MCG-backed content project?

The projects that we develop have to deliver on certain ROI parameters and being part of GroupM that is our key priority. We also provide a brand-safe environment, which is extremely important for brands, since we are also producers or co-producers of the show that we are investing in. From a production point of view, we ensure that the brand is well integrated into the show. There is no force-fit but it is nicely integrated into the storyline or the theme of the show. That’s where the X-factor comes into play. We provide ROI in a brand-safe environment on premium content through seamless integration.

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