SonyLIV has launched its services in Tamil and Telugu market to localise the entertainment experience for its viewers. UdaySodhi, Business Head – Digital, Sony Pictures Networks India was a busy man shuttling between cities for back-to-back launches at Hyderabad and Chennai.He has the task of roping in right talents and quality producers to work with his platform in order to create huge portfolio of Tamil content that goes live on SonyLIV this June.
Uday Sodhi shared his insights and strategy behind the foray of Sony LIV in Tamil and Telugu regional market along with his plans for other South markets.
Platforms like Hotstar, Voot and ZEE5 entered South market with an advantage of being a broadcaster in local language. Do you miss that?
I think we have an advantage of starting with a clean slate. Being digital first is an exciting opportunity; we want to invest this market and build Sony LIV as a complete digital platform, instead of riding on back of TV content.
Compared to the others, we have a huge advantage with sports and games properties that are highly consumed and array of infotainment content through our partnership with BBC. All these contents have no language barrier. So we want to build on that base. In addition, we will exploit the IPs of Sony, and create a very large group of Tamil and Telugu content.We want to put digital first, which is different from everybody else.
I’m sure you might have done a good research about the audience behaviour in this market, what is your understanding?
Content consumption in Tamil and Telugu market are more than any other market. Put together Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana the content consumption per person is the highest among the rest of the country. The amount of time spend per person per day is probably the highest, which is why we think this is an attractive market to get into. Also, everybody has their own content preferences. So I think this is a great market.
Moreover, Advertisers are also wanting to reach out to the audiences in this market, a lot of our brands are saying they want a national footprint. Today, we are not able to give a national footprint because we are not available in these two big strategic markets. So I think for us from a monetization perspective, and from a consumer perspective, this is a great opportunity.
It is an 80 million consumer market with high propensity to consume. They love their content, they love their heroes, and they love their stars. Good stories and good artists attract them the most and we want to invest towards addressing their needs.
How do you wish to position Sony LIV among existing players in South?
We want to be leaders, because we want to tell stories that are diffrenet, which is why we’re starting off with 2000 hours of content. We want to be the biggest player in this place with huge portfolio of Tamil content that goes live on SonyLIV this June. And we’ll do whatever it takes to reach that mark.Sony LIV is focusing on creating lots of originals in South Market for whichwe have ropes in some of the best names in this market such as director Gautham Vasudev Menon, Balaji Mohan and Singeetham Srinivas.
Sony LIV’s first-ever Tamil original – Aivar is about a businessman’s struggle to revive his grandfather’s newspaper. Our Tamil slate also includes other titles like The Farm and My Marappu that was shot completely in USA.
Sony Pictures Network’s top 20 shows, a host of movies and TVF originals like Pitchers, Tripling and Permanent Roommates will also be updated in Tamil for inducing a relevant and relatable viewing habit.
More over, Crime Patrol, one of the longest running shows of the network will be remade on digital comprising of locally relevant stories and characters.
What is your investment outlay for the digital foray into Tamil and Telugu market?
We were acquiring movies for Tamil and Telugu market.We have already got about 300 plus movies. Some new ones, some library, some release of 2017-18, we also have plans to acquire movies, which are releasing in 2019 that includes big budget films.
Our second big investment that we making is on dubbing and bringing in a lot of SonyLIV original content into these markets. The third we’re doing is to add lots of originals both in Tamil and Telugu. We’re planning to bring in 10 to 15 shows in the year. So that’s a lot of investment that we’re putting in anything that should takes us to leadership position.
Movie rights deal in this markets are mostly clubbed with satellite rights, How was the market reacting to acquisition of stand alone digital rights, you find it hard to crack?
No, I think today producers want to tie up with the digital platforms because it is far more lucrative. It reaches far many more people. So I think this whole business is changing. We’re doing tie ups with the film industry, and we will see some of the best movies coming on to our digital platform.
And some of the movies that we’re acquiring right now or in the conversation right now are among the biggest movie titles. It costs you;it takes money to get the FIFA World Cup, right? So, we’re not going to hide away from doing the right thing to be a leader in this market.
How was your experience in finding talents in this market for digital content creation?
We have been in this business for six years, been through this cycle in the other markets also. We have seen people initially wanting to do only film. But now it’s becoming more and more evident to people that the reach of digital is significant. So. if you have to make your content or you have to tell your stories to a large audience, you have to do it through digital.
In a year, a talent can make one or two movies only, however, through partnership with Sony, they can make many more shows, you can tell your stories and it can reach many more people.
The scenario in Bollywood is that people have known and have started putting a lot of resources on digital, the same thing will happen with one or two big successes in South.
SPN India has floated in-house content division Studio NXT, will you be trying to leverage its capabilities in digital space?
I think it’s a bit early to comment on that at this point of time. But if there are compulsive, good talent or a compulsive story, or a good story available, they might look at that opportunity also.
Whether it is our own in house studio, or external studio, we’re looking for the best talent to borrow.
So you will be exploring branded content opportunity also in this market?
We will be, but I think most of our effort is on creating big content for the consumers. Once the consumers come in. Everything else falls into place.