#Frames2013: The key is to know your markets and its demands: Anne Sweeney

13 Mar,2013

By Kshama Rao


At the first keynote of the 14th FICCI-Frames convention, Anne Sweeney, co-chair Disney Media Networks and President, Disney-ABC Television group spoke about creativity and the importance of localization in creativity. She talked about how local markets and local culture play an important role for any programme or format to work in different countries.


To source out local talent so that the character-actor fit is perfect for the said market is another important aspect of making a good show, she said, recounting how the creative team had short-listed two girls to play the role of Hanna Montana. While one was an experienced sit-com actress, the other was this shy, inexperienced girl who went on to be known to the world as Miley Cyrus aka Hanna Montana. “The key is to know what your market is and its demands. When we make or adapt shows to the Indian market, we have to know what’s important to an Indian audience and how different is it than any other viewership we might have catered to. The core values are universal is what we have found out time and again aligned perfectly with the Disney themes,” Ms Sweeney said.


She then went on to cite two popular shows in the Indian kiddie show market – Best of Nikki and The Suite Life of Karan and Kabir, the latter being a desi take on The Suite Life of Jack and Cody. “The reason these two shows have best worked for us and the Indian market is because they celebrate culturally relevant things say a festival like Diwali or Holi. The theme is kid-centric and family-inclusive.”


She said advancement in technology has only made story-telling much more compelling and magical. “It has helped us to push story-telling in the right direction just like it did several years ago when Disney made Snow White!”


She said the key is to empower the audience and “give the consumers content which is what they want, when they want and how they want.”

In a q&a session that followed with Man Jit Singh, CEO, Multi-Screen Media and Chairman, FICCI Broadcast Forum, Ms Sweeney also reiterated that as much as they love to adapt foreign content to Indian screens “the key is also to balance it with original content. It’s not just about recreating these shows for a different market but make it original too. Like some of the properties were created in Europe but adapted later to the US market. We are also looking at Indian content we could adapt to foreign markets.”


Lastly, she said that while there is always the business challenge, difficulties in understanding the market, sourcing local talent and understanding the needs of the audience, it’s shows that are family-inclusive that work the best. “When we worked closely with children in focus groups to know what they were watching and when we asked them who their favourite heroes were, they never mentioned a superhero, it was always either the father, mother, brother or sister in their family. So family-inclusive shows are key for children’s programming!”


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