Cosmos-Maya, one of the leading animation studios in Asia with over 1000 artists, currently producing the #1 kids’ series on Indian television, Motu Patlu, that airs on Nickelodeon in India. With 15 TV series currently on air with the leading Indian kids content broadcasters, including Nickelodeon, Disney, Discovery Kids and OTT players like Disney+ Hotstar, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Zee5 and many others; Cosmos-Maya has achieved a distinguished industry leadership position.
In conversation with Medianews4u, Anish JS Mehta, Chief Executive Officer, Cosmos- Maya spoke about the launch of their new shows, marketing strategies, animation industry and more.
According to reports, you plan to release the second seasons of Titoo, Gadget Guru Ganesha, and Bapu. What are the shows’ additions, and what can we expect from Season 2 of these popular shows?
We have witnessed a wonderful reception for all of these IP which released in 2020 and the fact that Bapu and Gadget Guru Ganesha have been renewed for 2nd seasons in a short period of just around 6 months of their release. The new episodes will feature a lot of fun and colour for our young Indian audience, with more exciting storylines, pranks and adventures by our favourite characters. Titoo has been received exceptionally well by kids and family audiences, and in the event of a second season, we shall share the news super soon post due to confirmation with our show partners.
How is Cosmos-Maya exploring and adapting to the newer roots in the world of entertainment?
We have made optimum utilisation of our content’s presence in line with this age’s audience behaviour, with insight-driven advances into newer business geographies and territories – both traditional and digital. The OTT space has seen consistent growth in the past 5 years, with SVOD platforms witnessing the bulk of the meteoric rise in media consumption in 2020 and making the most of that growth and being present on all popular platforms was an absolute no-brainer for any video content producer of any genre or format. From TV rating-magnets like Motu Patlu and Selfie With Bajrangi to upcoming Dabangg, nearly all our projects are airing on pay-TV and SVOD/AVOD platforms simultaneously to allow our audience to access the content at the portals of their choice. Dabangg has also led to the widening of a new business avenue. Cosmos-Maya works with major Bollywood film franchises to provide an animated extension to blockbuster cinematic content for greater mutual revenue potential and a broader audience base.
The animation industry remained almost unaffected by the global pandemic. Do you agree? How did the Animation industry come out with a solution during the pandemic? What are the various possibilities that were explored?
In answering the first part of your question, yes and no. Yes, because due to the imposition of lockdowns worldwide, families became limited to their entertainment screens, creating greater avenues for animation and kids’ producers to serve new content titles and more volumes of existing content in demand. But then, like any other industry, the animation industry too faced a logistical issue of shifting the entire production and marketing operation to the homes of their employees and working to streamline the same with pre-established production and delivery timelines. Cosmos-Maya emerged strongly through this, releasing 5 new titles in the year 2020 itself, adhering seamlessly to their schedules, and ensuring that everyone could work comfortably and productively without compromising on the responsibilities imposed upon them by the pandemic. Where a portion of the core production work required the use of resources available at the office, we implemented strict regulations regarding essential employee attendance, appropriate social distancing and sanitisation of the workspace.
According to you, how has OTT become the upcoming platform for animated series? Where do you see the regional content in the OTT platforms in the next few years?
Animated content, whether it’s for kids or a more mature audience, commands a more niche viewership in comparison to major live-action blockbuster content or even long-format series. With highly-adapting technology that is bringing screens all around us – from our TVs and laptops to our laptops, phones and even public commute/travel vehicles like cabs and flights – we must have content ready to be served at every potential point of consumption for a viewer. This aided with greater internet penetration has led to the rise of more video-on-demand OTT platforms, where you can select the title and genre of your choice, anywhere you want. This also helps a producer looking for a greater geographical reach. It’s for these same reasons that regional content will also see growth on OTT platforms, with more language options and localisation opportunities.
What are the marketing plans for the upcoming shows and Cosmos-Maya as a brand?
We have a bevvy of projects planned for this year, with 4 titles already undergoing production for a mid-2021 release. We’ll be floating announcements for these soon. Other than that, as I mentioned before, three titles are getting 2nd seasons. In the co-production space, we have Putra for Indonesia in partnership with Spectrum film, Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds with Apolo Films from Spain. We are continually churning out content for both the domestic Indian market and the global space.
How can operational innovation transform the animation industry? Is virtual production going to be the future of the animation industry?
We’ve seen a paradigm shift in our production operations since the start of 2021. We’ve been working in a world that’s been in flux. In this past year, modifying these processes has resulted in improvement in productivity in a variety of ways, but drawbacks have been faced as well. Hence, whether it is an effective model for long-term planning is still a tad early to say.
What are your hopes and plans for 2021?
We’re poised to see a lot of new big business coming up in 2021, both in terms of revenue potential and creative thresholds. Broadcasters have started opening up for varied partnerships with animated content producers, allowing them to grow phenomenally and in rich, diverse, untapped markets and audiences. The industry’s collective, collaborative spirit has already resulted in some great projects, such as Eena Meena Deeka. This show grew out of India and is a testament to the universal story-blending possibilities emerging from the growing collaborative space in the domestic and the global animation industry.