#Frames2013: It’s the best time to be in the content business: Andy Kaplan

14 Mar,2013

By A Correspondent


There’s so much that has emerged in the recent past that it is mandatory for the broadcast industry in India to stay updated and geared for a promising tomorrow. Most of these developments have come from multinational brands which have made quite an impact on the way the M&E ecosystem functions in India.


Presenting the experiences and practices adopted by his network, Andy Kaplan, President, Worldwide Networks, Sony Pictures Television had the stage to himself at a special session on ‘The future of television’ on the second day of FICCI Frames 2013.


Sharing his outlook he said, “I think there has never been a better time to be in the content business. A few years there were barely any players that you wanted to sell your content to but today there are hundreds of players available that provide us many more opportunities. In the US market, there is a change that has been observed in the secondary revenue stream where if a show is there on a network long enough then there is syndication carried out with cable and TV stations but now there are a lot of new players in that world that are supplementing their revenue streams or are replacing them like Netflix, Amazon etc. So the way the content providers are looking at the world is completely different. It is providing them enough opportunities and is thus a good place to be in.”


Highlighting his opinion on the issue of revenues facing the business, Mr Kaplan said, “Where revenues are concerned around content I do not think they are going down but are rather coming in from other places. But there are the challenges of infrastructure because one needs to be equipped with different areas of expertise from the distribution side that allows one to monetize these opportunities and have more sophistication and knowledge and transparency into all of these other businesses.”


On the influence that localization has over global, Mr Kaplan said, “From an international network standpoint there is the localized model that we follow around content. So while we buy a lot of programming from our own we also buy from other studios as well. Our job is to pull in the best programmes that we can and deliver the best networks to our audience and maximise our ratings and eventually revenues as well. The good news is that there are a lot of people in the content business who want to sell their content and as we become more successful in these markets we want to become more important buyers. Also each of these markets throws up different nuances where content acquisition is concerned and where we are concerned we are always faced with a challenge of balancing the local with global. We resort to using research and focus groups and whatever local knowledge we get about our networks in each market to maximise our ratings. As an adjunct to the global programming we also have our own local programming because that is what will drive higher ratings and give us an opportunity to have a broader conversation with the advertisers.”


On the ways that Sony has managed to stay relevant and close to its consumers, Mr Kaplan said that it is important for broadcasters to keep themselves available across platforms. Sharing his experiences from his offering, Crackle, Mr Kaplan said, “Crackle has been around for five years and is a non-linear network where one can watch movies, television programmes etc. It is streamed content and is advertiser-supported. While most players have a subscriptional or transactional role we are a purely advertiser-supported entertainment website. It’s all about being available on all platforms and being able to garner more eyeballs. That’s what the advertisers too look out for. The good thing is that the advertisers are dying to get into this world either because they think that they have the audience matrix they want to reach or either because it is the next big thing. But whatever it is, Crackle in the US caters to male 18-49 yrs and that’s where most advertisers are also comfortable being focused towards.”


Mr Kaplan went on to highlight the role of India in fostering his growth in the region and the role that content will play in making broadcast a space to vie for.


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