Shweta Mulki

Online Video Content: Create or Curate?

At a vdonxt asia 2017 session, ContentAsia's Janine Stein posed this question to Sony Liv's Uday Sodhi, Web Talkies' Virendra Shahaney, One Digital's Gurpreet Singh and OML's Ajay Nair.

A session at vdonxt asia 2017, had 'Created content versus curated content' as its topic, and moderator Janine Stein, editorial director, ContentAsia began by putting forth the focal question of the session to panelists Uday Sodhi - head, Digital Entertainment, Sony Liv; Virendra Shahaney, chairman and managing director, Web Talkies, Gurpreet Singh, co-founder and chief executive officer at One Digital and Ajay Nair, director at Only Much Louder.

Sodhi began by commenting that currently there wasn't much data and depth of content available and that limited curation.

Online Video Content: Create or Curate?
Shahaney pointed out that curation and aggregation were misused terms. "Right now we are only gathering stuff, while curation is specific to tastes and interests," he said adding that there is broad aggregation only under segments like Bollywood and music.

Singh was of the view that the editorials could in time, move away from empty headlines and click-based content, which he felt, was prevalent now.

Nair felt that there was no proper cadre of people trained to understand and implement audience data, adding that globally too, micro-targeting had not reached its potential. Alluding to the dominating mob mentality in content, Nair added that since AIB had started edgy content three years ago, there have been numerous shows following it.

Sodhi added that phase two might bring in the depth and variety needed for platform owners. Here, Shahaney emphasised human intervention cannot be discounted, while Singh cited a global example saying, "Netflix had released ten trailer versions for House of Cards- catering separately to those who watch thrillers or romance and so on."

Stein then brought in the role of 'created' or 'original' content, to which Sodhi commented that the Sony library helped with consumers who come on the platform for catch-up TV. "When we want to expand, engage or bring in a new kind of audience in, we look at original shows. It's not a 'versus' for us," he added.

For Shahaney it was a no-brainer that 'original content was a must'. "You can build a business around it as value lies only in that. Even if for quick scaling and speed you may have begun with curation, you can't depend on it as some giant can come in with millions and throw you out."

Singh whose company manages 2500 YouTube channels, with 800 odd creators, said that every segment has its own niche, and that's where curation played a role.

Nair felt that the amount of quality content created for digital-first is very low. Creating original content across genres and niches is just the starting point. "Volume is just the beginning. The worry is that very quickly we can go to lowest-common denominator content."

When Stein questioned the panel about what could enable premium content, Nair said monetisation would be key in that area. Sodhi felt that monetisation is a struggle, and added that brands were experimenting more and figuring out the right way to approach this. "Be it advertising or subscription, India will have its unique model. As more and more premium OTT get into the market, advertising to see this in content environment and not a network environment," surmised Sodhi.

Stressing that monetisation on digital could be beyond advertising or subscription, Shahaney said, "We can take it straight to market, and say that we are offering content that is not available on television and is cheaper than cinema - that's the problem we are solving."

Singh added here that data speed and infrastructure was still a struggle, however premium the content. At this point, Nair questioned whether the industry would actually be prepared for the time when speeds improved. Currently, download options provided by OTT platforms were interim solutions."

When Stein brought in the contribution of brands to the ecosystem, Nair said that this was a year of education. Brands are wary, and many managers still think Twitter is important. Now there are 30-year-old brand managers who are watching content online and are willing to take risks, and agencies are also educating them on this."

Sodhi felt that be it brands, creators and platforms, the ecosystem has started falling into place.

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