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Web content’s leaders, small firms partner for wider reach


Minnows of digital content are marking their presence among the masters of the space, creating compelling low-cost, high-quality content that serves a youthful audience for streaming.

Saregama, India’s oldest music label, recently acquired a majority stake in Pocket Aces that operates popular YouTube channels such as Filter Copy and Dice, while Disney+ Hotstar tied up with multi-lingual storytelling platform Pratilipi. Industry experts see this as the beginning of a phase of consolidation, where smaller players look to build scale and reach, while larger entities target a younger audience. Both benefit from each other’s strengths to create content for the burgeoning digital space.

According to Ranjeet Pratap Singh, chief executive and co-founder, Pratilipi, India needs more content in local languages since a large number of Indian language users have recently joined the Internet for streaming and other purposes.

“Different companies will have different priorities and strategies at different points in time. Some are looking at stories that can be attractive to a specific target segment, while some are looking at stories that can be extended across multiple seasons, while others are looking at stories with mass or global appeal. Most of the stories that our partners have decided to produce are those that have not only resonated very well with Pratilipi’s readers, but are also those that have already proven that they have the same user love across different formats, including text, comics and audio, thus increasing the odds of a new format, TV, movie or OTT, also being a success,” Singh said.

The entertainment ecosystem has four key parts—original IP, development, production, and distribution. Most partnerships are between those who have synergies across different parts of the value chain, and organizations that can cover all parts either on their own or via acquisitions. Such partnerships will usually have better quality content as well as financial leverage.

Further, many smaller entities haven’t managed to achieve scale or reach despite a reputation for compelling content, and are finding it tough to drive revenues in a fragmented industry.

“There is very strong need for content at various budgets now, especially snackable short-form content that is being made available for free and competing with the likes of YouTube. A lot of these partnerships will help create cost-effective programming to fill that AVoD (advertising-based video on demand) space,” Barin Mukherjee, co-founder and CEO at Digital Refresh Network, a content solutions company said.

At the same time, for a company like Saregama, acquiring a majority stake in Pocket Aces helps target the latter’s high youth viewership, making for effective media utilization, Mukherjee said.

While the Saregama catalogue primarily consists of old classic songs, this would be an attempt at making them contemporary and appealing to younger audiences. The company declined to comment on Mint’s queries; however in an earlier statement, Avarna Jain, vice-chairperson, Saregama, had said the acquisition signifies the confluence of tradition and innovation.

“While we have always been leaders in the realm of music and media, this partnership with Pocket Aces will add new dimensions to our business as we tap into the burgeoning young digital audiences,” Jain had said.

Anuj Gandhi, media analyst and founder of Plug and Play Entertainment, a media tech startup agreed the young age profile of India’s demographic is driving these decisions. “Also, there has to be some difference (in strategy) when you’re competing with the spends of Amazon and Netflix. And a lot of smaller players that may have hit the glass ceiling with subscribers, bring in a faithful set of customers,” Gandhi said.

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Updated: 02 Nov 2023, 12:07 AM IST

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