Benita Chacko

OML Entertainment makes complete pivot towards content creation; half its revenue comes from branded content

From a television project to a theatrical release, CEO Gunjan Arya spells out the entertainment agency’s plans for the year.

Farzi Mushaira Season 3. Stand-up specials of Biswa Kalyan Rath and Rahul Subramanian. Branded content for OPPO, Google India and Legacy Collective. These are just some of the works created by OML Entertainment in 2023. 

In 2024, it will be launching a new show Bandwaale in collaboration with Amazon Prime Video and plans to launch the third season of Chacha Vidhayak Hai Humare. It is also gearing up for a television project and exploring scripts for a theatrical release. This increased focus on content creation is a result of the entertainment agency’s complete pivot towards content- original and branded- from its previous focus on live events.

Gunjan Arya, CEO, OML Entertainment, says that today nearly half of its revenue comes from branded content. This trend is gaining momentum, making branded sponsorship an increasingly significant force. 

According to an ET report, the company had a topline of over Rs 330 crore in FY23.

OML spans three businesses: talent representation practice, the content studio that packages and produces original shows, and a global content marketing agency. The remaining revenue is divided between OTT production and artist management.

Last year, the company created several campaigns, ranging from moments featured in editorial media for brands like OPPO to creating platforms for brands in countries like Poland. It also worked on various OPPO ads, featuring celebrities like Ranbir Kapoor, Zeenat Aman, and Janhvi Kapoor.

“Branded content encompasses all forms of content created for brands. This includes long-form shows, commercials for television or online distribution, influencer marketing, and branded content shows,” she explains.

OML’s brand solutions team originated from the need to support its artist management business. Brands have played a crucial role in enabling artists to sustain their craft, whether through touring albums or producing content for social media. 

“Brand support has seamlessly integrated into the concepts and ideas of OML and our artists, enabling projects that may not have been possible otherwise. It's never been purely about sponsorship; instead, brands become part of the narrative, facilitating projects that align with the artist’s vision,” she says.

OML had an early advantage with branded content with shows like The Dewarists on Star World created in 2011. Now, thanks to the internet’s reach, many brands are embracing pull content over push content. Arya says with more belief in the method, the journey of getting a brand onboard has become smoother. 

“For us, it's always been about proving efficiency and efficacy. We've achieved this in various ways, from comparing the cost of integration into our campaigns with what brands would have spent on digital ad dollars, to demonstrating where audiences truly reside. Understanding audience behaviour and consumption patterns, and aligning them with brands' marketing objectives, has been key for us,” she shares.

The company is also exploring scripts to venture into the theatrical space. It has previously collaborated on the film Chintu ka Birthday with AIB. “Now seems like the perfect time to revisit that avenue. We're currently exploring several ideas in the film space and partnering with studios experienced in theatrical releases to bring these projects to fruition,” Arya says.

However, while many content companies are gearing up to create more regional content, OML’s focus remains on producing predominantly Hindi language content. In the past, it had created Comicstaan in Tamil for Amazon Prime Video. 

“Hindi still caters to an audience that is only growing in number and affordability,” Arya adds.

On the artist representation front, it has diversified its portfolio beyond music and comedy. 

“The internet offers a broader spectrum of opportunities to individuals with unique perspectives, leading us to represent a wide range of talents, from mentalists to chefs, and now even actors, writers and directors,” she adds. 

The company is also expanding its team in other countries including, Nigeria, Japan, Russia, Poland and Thailand. “This allows us to create branded content globally. We are building internationally and in India, resulting in more global contracts for our branded content business,” she says. 

OML now has a presence in over 20 countries. This gives Arya a ringside view of the content economy of different countries. She observes that India has a remarkably mature market in the creator landscape. This is reflected in OML’s Market Index, which serves as an indicator of how conducive a market is for creators to publish content and for audiences to discover it. It considers various factors, including the cost of media and the Human Development Index, which encompasses education penetration and life expectancy. 

“India ranks quite high on this index, showcasing its evolved creator landscape. Unlike looking to the West for models, India is pioneering its own approaches to creators collaborating with brands. The depth and density of both content creators and brands willing to innovate contribute to India's maturity in this regard,” she says. 

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