In recent times, India has been experiencing a huge erosion and development in their content market with various GECs (general entertainment channels), specialised TV channels, OTT platforms and DTH channels mushrooming on a regular basis. They have been catering to both the mass, as well as the niche audiences. This has led to a growth of appetite for content consumption of various genres among Indian consumers.
Indian viewers have also become a more discerning audience, displaying a vast appetite for not only local content, but international content as well, across films, TV series, animation and other focus centric content such as travel, cooking , adventure, sports, reality shows etc. And the reason behind this propulsion? India’s vast diversity, growing literacy, and a high concentration of youth in its billion-population, along with rising disposable income, have aligned the stars to mould this ancient land into an extremely attractive market for content consumption.
“India as a market still proves to be a seller’s game…”
Yet, despite its voracious appetite for international content, India as a market still proves to be a seller’s game than that of a buyer – distribution of Indian content is a more lucrative business. The reason for this lies in its recent history, providing quality and tailor made content globally – for the Indian consumer, as well as the international one.
“If there has been content palatable to the discerning Indian consumer in terms of ethics, morals, culture and folklore, then the same is true for the Indian diaspora all over the world,” said Sushilkumar Agrawal, a first generation entrepreneur who is CEO of Ultra Group & Ultra Media & Entertainment Private Ltd.
The company currently provides end-to-end solutions for the film and television industry globally. Ultra had been quite active in syndication of its content slate in many countries for a very long time. More recently, it has been strongest in syndicating and distributing their content in: Europe, Latin America, the Gulf region, Southeast Asia, and Russia.
“We believe in buying content that can seamlessly connect with the audience…”
As a buyer, Ultra says it is always on the lookout for quality content worldwide. “Content that has universal appeal, with good production values, lucid storytelling and an engaging narrative have always been the prime in our wish list,” Agrawal noted. “We believe in buying content that can seamlessly connect with the audience and the market that we will be distributing it in.”
Today, the company pioneers in content acquisition from various production companies worldwide and the distribution of various media rights of Indian and international films, television programs, animation and other content in various genres and languages.
In fact, Ultra prides itself as being among the top 10 players in India as a content buyer, with major plans to scale up and buy more regular and non-conventional content from the currently existing and newer countries. At ATF 2016 itself, Ultra’s core areas of focus would be Bangkok, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
LOOKING AT INDIA WITH SUSHILKUMAR AGRAWAL, CEO OF ULTRA GROUP & ULTRA MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT PRIVATE LTD
Ultra Group & Ultra Media & Entertainment Private Ltd
iNSiGHTS magazine: India has been self-sufficient in many ways. Can this continue?
Sushilkumar Agrawal: India has been self-sufficient, and as a burgeoning market, the world can no longer ignore India’s significant effect on the industry. We ourselves are churning various content internally to cater to both the Indian and global market, but it is not enough. I feel we still have a very wide scope to experiment and roll out, looking at different genres, include alternate, disruptive and engaging ideas to add to our kitty. This is true across all platforms. If we constantly keep at it, we definitely will be above the curve and I feel that will be our edge.
iNSiGHTS magazine: Many Indian companies are now looking to own more IPs. What does this mean for India on the global stage?
Sushilkumar Agrawal: In the past, India has been adapting and “Indianising” international IPs and executing it successfully for the Indian audience. In recent years, we ourselves have been able to churn some interesting original IPs of our own. Be it Reality, Music, Travel, Sports, Cooking, Adventure, Live event shows etc. This also includes the platforms that they are showcased on like feature films, TV series, Digital, Web, Mobile, OTT, Hits, VOD etc. Look at the case of the various franchises our Bollywood films have successfully been adding for quite some time now and which have garnered worldwide audiences. Initially, we have been taking our own IPs very lightly, but today, as currently the content market has majorly been a valuation game, the Indians have known the importance and value of their own home-grown IPs. We have started and are in the continuous process of bettering our own IPs and smartly marketing and distributing it worldwide for better traction and profitability
iNSiGHTS magazine: When can India discard its cheap post production destination and start shaping the industry?
Sushilkumar Agrawal: India no longer has cheap production facilities. In fact, the current times have witnessed a huge influx of content creating companies like Hollywood and Chinese studios, major global television networks, and alternate content creators all coming to India to get their post-production work done
iNSiGHTS magazine: Indian quality of production far exceeds other markets. How can this give strength to companies like Ultra?
Sushilkumar Agrawal: Yes. India has come a long way in terms of the quality control in the production department in all aspects of pre and post, production values, special effects, DI etc. We surely are in a much better position in the above mentioned parameters viz a viz a lot of other countries.
iNSiGHTS magazine: Bandwidth is still an issue in India. Does it mean strategies need to have a wider territorial hold? Will Indian success come last in the bigger picture?
Sushilkumar Agrawal: The issue of bandwidth is getting better and better as each day passes, especially with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s strong initiative towards a “Digital India”. There has been a lot of ground that India has covered in terms of increasing the bandwidth and up scaling it with newer technologies regularly. It’s just a matter of time that optimum bandwidth will be one of the major USP of India and will be one of the major platforms for content distribution and consumption in India.
iNSiGHTS magazine: What does India need to do now to keep abreast of the digital revolution?
Sushilkumar Agrawal: India is already in a cusp of a major digital revolution, with strong, likeminded people in the government who understand the technology and knows how to use it optimally. In a matter of time, India will be one of the biggest and the strongest Digital Powerhouses in Asia and eventually in the world.