As Indian companies look for new avenues to grow, international brands are also exploring their next steps in India. The big question is, just how they can work towards bigger and better cross-border alliances. A panel discussion titled - Old Neighbours, New Alliances - was held at the recently concluded digital video convention, vdonxt Asia.
Jay Lin, CEO of Portico Media; Sabrina Duguet, EVP Asia Pacific of All3Media; and Fotini Paraskakis, EVP Entertainment - The Story Lab, were the panellists for the discussion. Janine Stein of Content Asia moderated the session and the first question she asked was, "You all have a fund to invest; what should Indian content creators do to get a part of this fund?"
Paraskakis, who recently moved from EndemolShine to Dentsu Aegis's The Story Lab, went first, saying, "From our perspective, we do have a healthy fund and because of our advertising history, we have very strong partnerships with platforms and players in local markets. The first thing we look at is the idea and the relevance of the story in that particular market. Then we see if that local story can travel globally, so, we are prepared to invest in entertainment - both scripted/non-scripted and films."
Stein then asked All3media's Sabrina Duguet to shed some light on the kind of content her firm would be interested in. All3Media is a British independent television, film and digital production and distribution company and Duguet shared their area of interests, "In 2017 we had 14 drama series; in 2018 we had 19, most of them cost around 1 million Pounds or $4.5 million per episode. So, they are big budget. If we were to look at investing in India, it needs to be in edgy dramas dealing with issues and something people are likely to talk about. If it is non-scripted, we would like it to be lifestyle content."
Jay Lin of Portico Media, a content production, aggregation and channel distribution company based out of Taipei, had this to say, "We are going to these territories and identifying interested and capable producers. We then give them the budget and co-produce with them. We want them to tell their local stories which can then travel around the region. We need people who are thirsty and need a platform to tell their stories."
Lin also added that he receives plenty of messages on social media telling him about quality LGBTQ content that needs a platform to associate with. "At times, they even reach out stating they have an idea which they believe can be produced as a series. So, we see a lot of opportunities in India," said Lin.
The panellists collectively agreed that short-form content is what people are more interested in and that viewers may not like committing to a 60-hour show as they do in the Indian television space. The panellists feel the challenge in India is to find creators who can create 9-10 hour series or seasonal series which are a "fairly new" concept in the Indian context.
All three panellists also stated that they are open to investing in India and in Indian producers who believe in their content and are willing to partner up. However, the local idea needs to have the wings to fly across regions.
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