@FF12: Entertainment has become a revolution

15 Mar,2012

 

The second session of FICCI Frames had ‘industry doyens, including key enablers, shed light on challenges and opportunities for the times ahead’. The session was moderated by Vishnu Som, Editor, Documentaries and Senior Anchor, NDTV.

 

The session was opened by Mr Som welcoming Mark Hollinger, President & CEO, Discovery Networks International (DNI), who took the stage to talk about DNI’s journey in India. From a single network launched in 1995, today DNI has grown to seven channels. Mr Hollinger gave the credit of this success to DNI’s advantage of being an early mover in the Indian market.

 

While talking about the process of digitisation, Mr Hollinger said that it is a great opportunity for a truly interactive pay TV experience. He appreciated the investment  made by the C&S community (the set top boxes and the marketing for the same).

 

Mr Hollinger was of the opinion that the viewers today prefer sophisticated technology and the same applied for TV too. He said that digitisation is a win-win situation for all. The consumer gets a better product with ‘wider choices’ and the broadcasters will get a better business model which allows ‘faster and broader penetration of HD channels’. He stated that embracing digitisation will push broadcasters to perform better.

 

In the Q&A session with Mr Som, when he was asked about the benefits of producing content v/s revenue, Mr Hollinger said one-third of their operational revenue and profits is recovered from the market due to their early mover advantage. He revealed that they spend almost $1 billion on producing content.

 

Being an international channel which enteredIndiain 1995, Mr Hollinger talked about howIndia, as a country, is more open to foreign content. He also said that even then they offer regionalised content created specially for the local viewers and also the option to view the international content in the local language. Mr Hollinger stated that their strategy worked as was evident from the Brand Trust Report which has named Discovery as the third most popular channel and TLC as the fifth.

 

In the Q&A session, when Mr Som questioned him about the pros and cons of local v/s international content, Mr Hollinger said that the local staff keeps them appraised about how the content is received. He said that the mix of international and local content is almost 50-50.

 

Mr Hollinger saved the best for the last. While closing his speech, he announced that DNI is launching Discovery Kids in India, which is the launch pad for theAsialaunch. The channel will also be launched inIndonesiaandPhilippines.

 

He also revealed plans to expand DNI’s scope to DVDs, retail, publishing and merchandising in the “biggest satellite market today”.

 

Next up was Puneet Goenka, CEO and MD, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL). Mr Goenka opened his address by stating entertainment is no longer an evolution but has become a revolution. He said that digitisation of content is a good move as the drivers of today’s content are “highly motivated youngsters who are high risk takers and have large disposable income”. They have the power to influence products to be customised and digitisation will help achieve just that.

 

With the help of a powerpoint presentation, Mr Goenka listed out the pros and cons of digitisation. He listed the fact that the penetration of private channels is still low and there is a lot of scope to grow as a benefit. Citing the example of Ditto TV, he said that now new media is the media to go to.

 

During the Q&A session, when asked about the benefits of digitisation, he said that the sheer choice that the consumer gets is the benefit which will also be beneficial to them as the number of channels being offered in HD will go up.

 

While talking about self-regulation in media, Mr Goenka said that it is still early days, as the norms have just been laid out by the news and entertainment industry. Time is needed to let them evolve and make a difference.

 

Next to address the audience was Carolyn Everson, VP, Global Marketing Solutions, Facebook, whose address featured on how Facebook can benefit the media and entertainment industry. Giving the example of Open Graph, Ms Everson illustrated how Saavn in music, Zinga in gaming and films being released in theUSuse Open Graph by sharing stories built their brand on “top of Facebook”.

 

Her ‘Aaha’ moment about Facebook came when, while talking to an anthropologist, she realised that communities and networks have always been around us but Facebook brings them to us at a scale never seen before due to the technology available.

 

She said that Facebook is a reflection of the unique individual identity and the social graph is created using the information shared by the individual.

 

Ms Everson also dealt with how Facebook is trying to take marketing from ads to stories. The thought behind the idea is that ads may be remembered once but stories are shared and remembered by millions. The best example of this is the Timeline pages for the brands which allow them to communicate one-on-one with their fans.

 

During the Q&A session, Ms Everson faced some tough questions from Mr Som, when he asked her about how Facebook has been dealing with objectionable content. She answered that they work very hard to regulate content and address complaints regularly. When she was asked how and why do they decide what is unsafe or objectionable, she answered that the communities regulate the content and Facebook takes their input very seriously.

 

Photograph: Fotocorp

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