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Sameer Nair featured in a new perspectives series “Coming up Next” Coproduced by C21Media and SIGN

The content ecosystem globally has seen radical changes in its graph over the last couple of years. With the digital landscape diversifying and evolving briskly, it has widened the horizon for the content players to experiment with formats as well. Due to the global pandemic, we have seen both positive and negative impact in the Media and Entertainment industry. To capture the challenges and new normal environment, the business facing project lead by the University of York, The Screen Industries Growth Network (SIGN) with leading International entertainment community C21 Media, is hosting a series of thought leadership lectures with celebrated industry experts across the world, to come together on a platform and share their thoughts on the current and future of the fast-growing entertainment world.

In a first of its kind series, global industry leaders will be talking in length about the digital revolution, fast growing data world, changes in production due to the virus and adjusting to the ‘new normal’. Representing India at a global pedestal was Sameer Nair, CEO - Applause Entertainment, the content arm of the Aditya Birla conglomerate. Sameer, a media and entertainment pioneer was the first one from India to be a part of this thought leadership initiative. The other prolific personalities who are featured in this series are Simon Mirren and Kari Skogland.

This leadership series will be available to the University of York (ranked 22nd in UK) and C21 subscribers. The university is known for its programs in Psychology, Humanities, Geography, Environmental science and Physical Education.

Sameer at the lecture series highlighted the impact of COVID in India, the streaming industry, lessons we have learnt in lockdown, the big opportunities lying in India. Following are the excerpts:

It's going to be a world with COVID and how we choose to exist in it

The way COVID has impacted India, a country of 1.8 billion population and a population with a lot of social divide, where the rich per divide is quite extreme and we’ve got a large amount of migrant population, we’ve got an urban population, we’ve got a rural population so I think something like this has been quite a spectacular impact in India primarily because unlike any other advanced countries in the West, we anyway struggle with stuff like health care and social security and all of that. So I think when COVID hit, when the lockdown happened, when the quarantines took place and then when we realized that this is the enormity of this pandemic. So while of course the default position of any government of anybody in charge, any person in a position of power, would be to protect human lives but alongside what this pandemic has done uniquely as compared to anything else that’s ever happened to us before, is there is also impacted economic life. So in India which is a country with a large number of our population being daily wage earners and they depend on earning wages daily and without a social security blanket. So I think the combination of these two things has been quite dramatic. It first started out with the first lockdown, we were 21 days down then 35 days down and you know it was sort of you know coping with that but I think now we are approaching about 140 days since the lockdown and we are still lockdown in different parts, some parts have recovered some parts haven’t but I think we as a country settled to sort of accepting that there’s ever going to be a post COVID world, its going to be a world with COVID and how we choose to exist in it.

Socially distant but technologically driven

This pandemic has also done is that it sort of made leaders take a look at what’s important right at every aspect of our life and I think that’s a really important because we finally are consumers at whatever level, whatever business, whatever we take, we are consumers and our society is a consumer society and all of us are interconnected so like for our own media business all the little things that have happened, we’ve stopped going out so like you know obviously what the pandemic requires us to do is to maintain social distance which means that one thing of our lives that’s got impacted is our social behavior right and that has been changed to a different dynamic which has become a socially distant technologically driven existence.

Introduction to the world of Streaming

The pandemic has introduced a huge population to the streaming world and they’ve suddenly watched all this content and realised that wow this is content that one can resume watching tomorrow, it doesn’t’t go away, it's still there and it also reminds me that you were doing this and you were doing that and you may also like this and you may also like that. As compared to television, the streaming world is so intuitively user friendly, consumer friendly you know its there. And now when we think back, I mean I spent a career in TV and when you look at the internet driven world of entertainment and of information, you realize how much friendlier it is. So I think so what’s happening with TV is that obviously advertising revenue is under a lot of strain because you know with an economy that’s in the doldrums of all the advertising stocks, TV for the large part in India is advertising dependent so that’s big blow and lot of the streamers are subscriber drivers, so streamers are looking at this as a big opportunity. Consumption has gone through the roof because people sitting around in homes locked up are consuming whatever they can, so obviously TV consumption has gone up and so has streaming consumption.

How content creators can collaborate and straddle the world

Something that we have learnt in the last 4 months is that this ability to work across borders remotely from your home and be able to do quite a lot right and that is not going to have a fundamental change in any case our big focus has been that we wish to collaborate, we want to work with people from everywhere in the world because my sense is that if a global streamer can straddle the world and tell stories from everywhere to anywhere in the same way the content creators can also collaborate and straddle the globe. Our focus is that we want to create content that is local that can go global and it’s not trying to do something which is crossover. I think your hearts got to be in the right place then the world’s your oyster.

Big opportunities lying in India

The big opportunity in India, which is looked upon in many ways as the largest market of last resort right now. It is a billion people but these billion people have a billion phones and a billion devices in their hand, they have a billion screens in front of them and for a large part it's been untapped. Also, what this has done now is that we have an opportunity to tell stories to these audiences and we can collaborate so in many ways. We have already been doing this, trying to collaborate with across the world to co-produce and co-finance content to be taken to different markets. India is a really big opportunity, many a times we have picked up, it’s from different parts of the world and adapted it for India and we’ve found great success with that. As we build this forward, I think India as a market, already you’ve seen companies like Facebook, Google and Apple, Amazon, Netflix and everybody is making waves here because this is a market which is waiting to be exploited.

Watch Sameer Nair’s session with C21 Media here - https://youtu.be/QxTHvFZ-VAI