By: Yohan P Chawla
What have been the key changes in the content and entertainment businesses in the last 20 years? Media veteran Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO Viacom 18 took that question in something like a fireside chat with Anant Goenka, Executive Director of the Indian Express group, on Day One of the 20th edition of FICCI FRAMES in Mumbai.
“A lot has changed, and changed for the better,” Vats said.
“Looking at content overall, the first thing that has changed in content is, the platforms and streams respectively across radio, television, print, digital etc.”
“The one fundamental shift that has happened is that we have moved from broadcast to micro-cast or dialogue. That’s the first shift that has happened in the latter half of the last twenty years, but it has happened, and is a welcome change. It’s basically from beaming things to having more conversations, and therefore, having more interactions.”
Talking about content creators who are targeting a specific set of people rather than masses, Vats said, “The second thing which has changed in the industry, because of technology, in my opinion, is that one doesn’t necessarily need to tell a story to everyone, and that one can tell stories to a limited number of people.”
“OTT originals target a certain set of people instead of targeting everyone. Look at the films which released more recently; we’ve not had the big blockbusters which are sort of appealing to everyone, but there are films that appeal to a certain audience such as Bhadhai Ho or Andhadun or Uri for that matter. Films too have changed, and for the good.”
“A third thing that has changed in the content space, is that the lines between curator, creator and the consumer have blurred. It was simpler in the past, but now the audience too is sometimes creating and curating, ” said Vats.
Touching upon the interdependency of TRP ratings and the television business, Vats said, “Television being an ad-driven model, the obsession with ratings (has resulted in creators) basically not being able to tell stories with the integrity with which they were told in the past.”
“In shows like like the old Mahabharat or Buniyad, the stories were being told with complete integrity. It is difficult to tell stories with integrity today. Content creators need to decide whether they are telling stories which they want to tell, or they are telling stories which sell. I think there is a subtle but a very important distinction.”
“We should tell stories which we want to sell and hopefully good stories will sell, and the focus has to be on the ability to tell stories which a storyteller want to tell,” Vats said.