High demand for content resulting in good talent stretching to the point that it's difficult to deliver quality: Myleeta Aga, BBC Worldwide
Myleeta Aga, Senior Vice-President and General Manager of South East Asia and South Asia, BBC Worldwide, on the challenges in content creation for the Indian market, digital eating into television’s space and the changing consumption pattern
2017 is proving to be an exciting year for Myleeta Aga, Senior Vice-President and General Manager of South East Asia and South Asia, BBC Worldwide. Its popular dance reality show ‘Nach Baliye’ is already underway on Star Plus. Next up is ‘India Banega Manch,’ a new reality talent-based show premiering on May 7 on Colors. Aga is even more enthralled about premium British drama brand, BBC First premiering on English entertainment channel Zee Cafe as a block. In a freewheeling chat, she shares her journey at BBC Worldwide, strengthening its regional content, challenges in content creation for the Indian market and future plans.
How has your ride been with BBC Worldwide since 2009?
It's been great. When we started we were primarily a format production company. Over the last six years we have added all genres of production and grown the production business itself. We started India based content sales business both in TV and digital. We have launched Sony BBC Earth channel in partnership with Sony. I feel every stage is evolving us more and more towards what BBC is, a platform-agnostic content company. It's about making good content available to fans. That's what we do.
BBC Worldwide has created both reality shows and fictional shows. Which is working for you more?
Definitely our format businesses are larger business. Our non-fiction business is larger. But we have a particular affinity towards doing fiction production where there is a quality requirement.
What are the productions are you?
‘India Banega Manch’ on Colors is scheduled to go on air on May 7. ‘Taste Match’ on Living Foodz with Sandeep Patil went on air recently. The show whose rating is really going through the roof is ‘Ayezindagi’ for Zing. That's doing extremely well.
British drama brand, BBC First will premiere as a block on the territory's leading English GEC channel. What’s the idea of BBC First?
Basically one of the challenges that English GECs face is that the audience is not really loyal to their channels as they tend to follow the shows. With BBC First there is a particular kind of content that you will find at this time regularly at Zee Cafe. It is home of quality British drama with some of our popular successful dramas such as ‘Fleming: The Man Who Would be Bond’, ‘SS-GB’ and ‘Doctor Foster’. It's very exciting to do something like that.
What are the challenges when it comes to creating content for the Indian market?
There is definitely a challenge with talent in case of writing and good quality production. With so much of demand for content a lot of good talent is getting stretched to the point that it becomes difficult to deliver quality. That’s a challenge in India. There needs to be a lot more effort to bring in quality training.
In the recent past BBC Worldwide has gone big in the regional space with three seasons of ‘Dancing Star’ for Colors Kannada, ‘2MAD’ for Colors Marathi and ‘Star Jalsha Parivaar Awards’ for Star Jalsha amongst others. How is it working out for you?
We have identified regional as one of the areas for further growth. I think we can do more. It's a steady business. In terms of production, because of the kind of formats that we have, there are certain kinds that we can do while some are harder. For example, a local drama in Kannada will be relatively difficult for us because we don't have that much local knowledge.
You have tie ups with various OTT players such as Amazon India, Hungama, Vuclip, Voot and Netflix. Did you ever have the thought of launching your own OTT platform? Any plans in this space?
There's a lot of competition in the OTT space. That’s one of the reasons why it doesn't really make sense for us to launch our own platform especially because we have such good relationships with our digital partners. We will continue to maintain that. We are looking to tie up with more of them. We do look at what audience the OTT platform is trying to serve and whether our content will help it serve them (audience).
How has the response been to Sony BBC Earth?
The feedback is overwhelming. People have really appreciated the quality, the content, the story telling, also the packaging and the launch marketing of the channel.
Are you planning to bring in more branded content after ‘Har Ghar Kucch Kehta Hai’?
We put it on Netflix last week. I am very happy to be able to give that content to Netflix. The only way for brands to connect with viewers is to have content integration. We have someone who specifically looks at branded content for us because it's a great opportunity. We are planning to bring more branded content this year. We're talking to a lot of brands. We talked to Group M and some of the telecom companies.
How has the consumption pattern of the viewer changed over the years?
Human behaviour towards content is same all over the world and over time as well. People want well-told stories, relatable characters and surprises. You can do it with a one-hour drama or a two-hour TV event, even a two-second digital piece. If you have the ability to tell a good story you will find an audience wherever you go.
There is certainly much more choice from the viewer’s perspective. India is very much a single TV viewing home but multiple screens are increasing. The way people consume content has changed but what they choose to consume is still driven by the same parameters.
What are the factors that one has to keep in mind while adapting international shows?
When we are adapting international shows we try to make sure to hold onto the essence of what made the show work in its original format. Then we add on the localisation aspect, the things that will make it more relatable to the local audience. We try to manage that balance. It's something that needs to be struck.
The general perception is that digital is eating into television consumption. As a company, which has content on both mediums, can we have your comments on that?
Digital is growing a lot faster than people realise. But TV is not going anywhere. It is also growing in a healthy way. FTA (Free to Air) is opening up. An entire audience will be served through it. There is pay in the middle and then there is digital. So different audience will segment according to their preferred ways to watch content. But they still need content. That's a great thing for us.
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