If you know the pulse of the masses, you will create good content: Markand Adhikari

The Chairman of SAB Group, Adhikari spoke during the first episode of e4m's Future Talk Series about the journey of the group, rise of OTT and playbook for good content

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Jul 14, 2020 9:05 AM
Markand Adhikari

Markand Adhikari, Chairman SAB Group was the guest on the first episode of e4m FutureTalk Series which was hosted by Dr Annurag Batra, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, BW Businessworld and exchange4media Group. 

Having spent almost four decades in the business, Adhikari Spoke about the journey of SAB Group, the rise of OTT platforms and the playbook for creating good content.

How do you see the trajectory of almost three decades of  SAB Group's journey?

It has been an exciting journey. We started in the early nineties and I remember we used to get Rs 1.25 lakh per episode. I consider Subhash Chandra of Zee as my mentor. He is a real businessman and when he agreed to pay us Rs 1.25 lakh per episode; he wanted to negotiate further. However, I offered him the copyrights of the show and requested him for full payment, this later became the trend in the industry.

In 1995 we started making shows for DD Metro and in five years, we must have completed over 3500 plus episodes, and in 2000 we set up the SAB TV Group. As I said, it has been an exciting journey. When I look back, I think what worked in our favour was the fact that we created a niche brand of comedy and survived with less capital until the Sony-SAB deal took place.

After 2000, till now, only two GECs have done well. One is SAB TV and the other is Colors. The rest have tried the GEC space but have not been so successful and have mostly bombed. 

From successful comedy content to News and Music, what was the idea behind that diversification?

After the Sony-SAB deal in 2005, I was thinking about the next move. We did try the news genre in between, but I got a good deal, and like a true businessman, I sold the channel to an industrialist. We felt the GEC space was crowded, so I got into the music genre. This time again we had a differentiated offering--comedy and music. We roped in some of the top names in the comedy genre at that time---Raju Srivastava, Suresh Menon etc.

In no time, the channel became a highly successful channel. Mastiii was launched on July 4, 2010, and in the rating of 5th August 2010, It was number one channel and has had a very good run in the last 10 years. 

Is there a playbook for creating good content?

I would say a sense of good content is extremely important to run a successful channel. There is no fixed playbook for creating good content.

Since I come from a very middle-class family, I have experienced the struggle and it has helped me study people, and that eventually becomes the character that we portray. It’s like RK Laxman's Common Man; that's how I have observed people in my life.

I believe good content is an impromptu creation, it's like a thumb mark and every impression is different. If you know the pulse of the masses, you will create good content.

Since you are a pioneer when it comes to private TV channels, what is your view about the News TV Channels that we see today?

News and entertainment have got mixed nowadays. Except for the top 30-40 channels, the rest of them have become liaisoning platforms. Now people are shifting to digital for news consumption and digital is going to pay the next big role in this domain.

We have seen OTT content consumption growing at a phenomenal pace, in your view will OTT become the next mainstream?

There is no doubt that OTT will be the future. The advantage with digital is that you can move with it, unlike TV, and that becomes its strong point too...

However, our culture is largely family-oriented, and we like to gather for family viewing during dinner time etc. At times OTT content is not suitable for family viewing. So while it holds big promise, given the fact that it depends on the subscription in a market environment where ad revenues are shrinking, I would still say that TV is here to stay. 

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