With a lot of buzz going around about how the Indian government’s vision is to make India the global hub of content, the ministry is leaving no stone unturned to grab the attention of the international companies at MIPCOM. The market witnessed an informative session ‘India as a creative hub’ on its opening day where the leaders of the media and entertainment field pointed out the various opportunities and benefits India has to offer.
Moderated by AnimationXpress.com founder, chairman and editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari, the panelists included Services Export Promotion Council (SEPC) director general Abhay Sinha, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB), Government of India joint secretary Senthil Rajan, SEPC media and entertainment head Hirachand Dand, Zee Studios chief business officer Shariq Patel, TravelXP CEO Prashant Chothani, Indiacast Media Distribution EVP Govind Shahi, FICCI chairman of AVGC forum and Screenyug Creations founder and CEO Ashish Kulkarni.
Rajan mentioned about the incentives which were introduced in April for filmmaking under co-production agreements that are proving to be beneficial with already 12 films given a go ahead. The incentive of almost US $300,000 is being provided for co-production and if one is shooting in India, they also get additional rebates. He further shared, “We are expecting the M&E sector to grow to around 100 billion US dollars by 2030. The gaming market will almost be seven billion by 2023. So we have immense opportunities. And I think the biggest revolution is happening in India with the launch of the 5G service which is going to change the distribution models and business practices of all entertainment companies.”
Giving insights about the animation, VFX, gaming and comics (AVGC) industry, Kulkarni mentioned that although the AVGC sector started only two decades, it has come a long way where we have the foundation for supporting all the kinds of filmmaking whether it’s for theatrical films, television, OTT or ad films. Today one can see a mix of both – cost arbitrage as well as quality delivery from India.
At the same time, with the rollout of the national education policy in 2020, we are consciously focused on creating an education ecosystem for creative and performing arts. “We presently have 200,000 plus hardcore or trained manpower in the AVGC sector and by 2030, we are going to be almost 10 times bigger. So we are looking at two million strong force coming out of India,” expounded Kulkarni.
The powerhouse of India is predominantly about the young population and India is the country where cinema is made in 17 different languages, and the television has about 14 languages, and they have their own economics and ecosystem. “Today India has 500 million active smartphone users and by 2024, we will have 900 million active smartphone users and that actually is a huge power in the hands of people in the creative content economy. Due to this we saw an exponential rise in the hyper casual games segment and even the content consumption patterns have drastically changed. People are actually now consuming content on a big screen plus television screen and the mobile screen,” said he.
Talking further about the consumption patterns, Patel mentioned how before the pandemic, the box office collection was record breaking and 2021 resulted in huge dip. Although the box office numbers have subdued, a lot of content was consumed at home in the last two years due to mobile penetration. “India being a filmmaking country with a rich history of 100 years, we’re becoming more of a creative economy. The entire social media explosion which happened where a huge number of creators started creating micro videos from 15 seconds to two minutes are now moving up the value chain and there are plenty of success stories of these creators.
So, creation of content has always been in the DNA and we have been a storytelling country for 1000s of years. I think now with the ability to produce content at very low cost and the distribution being so easily available, we’re on the verge of achieving the 100 billion figure.”
Chothani, who has given the world its first 4K HDR TV channel, Travelxp 4K HDR, mentioned, “As a brand, we are also getting into the media tech space; and technology and media is getting converged. As a media entrepreneur or as a media professional, you also need to be a tech person now as technology and media goes hand in hand. In 2017, as an Indian company, we launched the world’s first 4K HDR channel in the US, so one can see the power of an Indian creator in what they can do. We are available as a mainstream global travel channel in 110 countries in 25 languages reaching over 200 plus million homes. So India has immense talent and stories which can take over the world. The time has come and if the government is backing the sector, one can see what’s going to happen. Five years from now, we will see a different panel with different kinds of discussions taking place at MIPCOM where we will no longer be talking about why we are relevant. We have already arrived at that stage. The noises are there and you will hear it very soon.”
Giving an overview about how India is looking at the global landscape, Shahi shared, “If you track the journey, what’s happening with Indian content, historically, most of the channels that were launched to get the diaspora to watch content that was coming out of India. But we clearly see now that the non diaspora audience, as in the general audience in each country, has begun consuming the Indian content. Networks have started dubbing Indian content in the local languages and the consumption of that content has really shot through the roof. These channels have become leading channels in terms of ratings in those countries clearly proving that the storytelling that comes out of India is a very acceptable norm.
As for the OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime, we clearly see Indian programming trending as soon as something releases. So the content is being consumed. Public service broadcasters like Channel 4 actually screen Bollywood movies twice a year, so they’re investing in content that they think the general audience will want to consume. We’ve tried putting channels on the Freeview panel and we’ve seen about 20 odd per cent of viewership coming from non-Indians even though the channel was not dubbed, it was just subtitled. So there is a clear indication that there is a market for the content that’s being made and coming out of India.”
Tha panel also mentioned that India has opened up 100 per cent FDI in the space of animation, gaming, visual effects, comics, XR, television production which means that people can own the company 100 per cent which is a very big welcome sign. India also has the largest DTH operation in the world and even foreign broadcasters can broadcast on it.
With the growing demand for content and the boom of the M&E sector, Nand revealed how back in the 90s, there were only two companies who used to participate in MIPCOM. However, now we can see more than 25 booths and they are here to mostly sell their programmes.
All these points together showcase the prowess of India and how it is finally ready to take on the world!