Digital is an opportunity but should be used correctly, say experts
MUMBAI, March 27, 2015. On the concluding day of the FICCI FRAMES 2015 here, Ms Pooja Kohli, founder of Filmkaravan, moderated a session on ‘Digital Disruption: Trends, Analysis, Insight and Projections’. The session looked at disruption effected by the digital ecosystem upon the entertainment sector. The panellists analysed future and current trends in the digital business for these platforms to become growth drivers.
Mr Abhay Deol, actor, producer and one of the key disruptors of the digital media, shared his experience in releasing One by Two to international audiences. He took a risk, but it made sense. He wasn’t getting distribution abroad, and conversations with the NRI community convinced him that they were willing to pay for watching the movie online. He saw that as an opportunity. “Here was a chance. I didn’t have to stress my studio out into a theatrical release anywhere outside India; I could just provide them with that content on my platform.” He feels that changing technology is a godsend; it enables producers to create content that doesn’t fit ‘the formula’.
Mr Paulo Matteo Agostinelli, Chief Content and Business Development Officer, Tata Sky Ltd, agreed that digital is an opportunity, but will soon become a threat if the industry does not move quickly. Hence his company offers non linear content that subscribers can watch on demand. “What’s needed is an open minded approach to what’s happening.” The right approach, according to him, is to create value for consumers by selecting the right content and packaging and delivering it in an appropriate way for the consumer, regardless of the device. That helps them understand the changing behaviour of consumers. “It’s a disruption, but a positive one.” In America which is the most advanced video market in the world, the ‘millennials’ or 18-35 year olds now consume 50 per cent of their video time on a non linear basis; a third of their video time is spent on a device. “In India there are 350 million millennials walking on the street at this moment,” he averred, referring to the tremendous opportunity in the digital entertainment space.
“We have to be aware that new technologies are being developed; and how we monetise these opportunities,” said Mr Erik St Anthony Pence, President N. America / Global Digital Strategy / Facebook Walla. For the last decade he has been helping to monetise new technologies, and the struggle comes down to still being able to market content. There is no magic there.
But Mr James Veraldi, Digital Media Advisor, LA, felt that the challenges in the US are different from those in India. “There are different reasons why some have sputtered and some have taken off, but across the board the same opportunity to source traditional providers and go to the consumer in the same way creators are doing online is there.” In his view, there is an assumption that people are looking at new forms of content; they still love well produced movies and TV shows. The difference is in how the content gets delivered and monetised. Yet, he does not believe in the death of cable and satellite television, only in their evolution with changing consumer demands.
The panellists also discussed the kind of content that works on digital. Mr Abhay Deol felt that the content has to bring in business success, and hoped that the new platforms create an opportunity for new content to get funded. Mr Veraldi stressed that there will always be good content and bad content. “What’s changed is marrying digital stars with traditional writers and filmmakers and not relying on traditional distribution to get it monetised.” Mr Pence’s advice to filmmakers was that rather than focusing only on the main feature, they should look at digital as a complete marketing ecosystem, and bring in the franchise idea behind it, because digital has made that possible.