FAST FORWARD TO THE FUTURE
Businessworld|October 31, 2021
Content, culture, interactivity and COMMERCE are all coming together to brew the perfect storm propelling MEDIA into a new direction in India, birthing a slew of MEDIATECH companies that are attractive to consumers and investors alike
Noor Fathima Warsia
In July 2021, Sachin Tendulkar invested $2 million in JetSynthesys. In the same month, WinZO secured $6 million — both are tech-led entertainment companies. Gumlet, a SaaS firm that automates the media delivery infrastructure, received a $1.6 million investment from Surge, while ShareChat’s Moj, Prime Minister’s AatmaNirbhar App Challenge winner Koo, and Daily Hunt’s Josh, all short-form video players launched in 2020, attracted some of the highest investment monies of the year.

Shuttered cinemas, production halts, lockdowns and overall budget cuts cast a gloom cloud over the Indian media but the sector attracted $877.8 million across 85 funding deals last year nonetheless, compared to $561.27 million in 2019. The underlying factor among these deals was that all these companies had one or more of the following at their core — content, video and mobile-first, culturally diverse, interactive, social commerce. This mix is what defines mediatech in today’s world order.

While FDI (foreign direct investment) inflows in India’s information and broadcasting sector, including print media, stood at $9.5 billion between April 2000 and March 2021, the highlight trend last year was investors’ money going to the mediatech pie. All these indicators point to the paradigm shift in the sector where new titans are flexing their muscles.

The Big Game

Short video apps and gaming platforms were joined by OTT (over-the-top) among the fast-growing companies last year. Given that India has nearly a hundred OTT brands already, it is no surprise that in FY20, as per an EY report, digital and online revenue stood at Rs 26 billion (20 per cent YoY increase). Within this, animation, visual effects, gaming and comics grew 29 per cent, while the audiovisual sector and services rose 25 per cent.

The Government of India’s attention to the sector played its part as well. Not only did the government increase FDI limit from 74 per cent to 100 per cent, making the sector more attractive, but it also undertook policies that indicated the seriousness given to the otherwise younger lot in the sector. Digital audiovisual content including films and web shows on OTT platforms, as well as news and current affairs on online platforms, were brought under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in November 2020 and IT Rules 2021 were subsequently outlined.

More efforts from an infra standpoint were seen in the year when the Maharashtra Film, Stage and Cultural Development Corporation, aka Film City, invited expressions of interest to develop infrastructure on its premises. Prasar Bharati and PSM, the official state media of Maldives, inked an agreement to facilitate collaboration and capacity building in the field of broadcasting. Global player Netflix made a big move with its plan to open its first live-action, a postproduction facility in Mumbai.

India’s M&E sector per se is expected to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 3.24 per cent, touching $25.56 billion by 2022. As per EY, the Indian M&E sector stood at Rs 1.38 trillion (~$19 billion) in 2020 and is estimated at Rs 1.73 trillion (~$23.7 billion) in 2021. Further, it is projected to grow to Rs 2.23 trillion (~$30.6 billion) by 2023. Television would account for 40 per cent of the Indian media market in 2024, followed by print (13 per cent), digital (12 per cent), cinema (9 per cent), and the OTT and gaming industries (8 per cent).

“CONTENT CONSUMPTION IS NOW MOBILE-FIRST”

MANSI JAIN, GM AND VICE PRESIDENT, ROPOSO AND COMMERCE FOR GLANCE ON HOW MEDIA IS LEVERAGING TECH & AI-LED MODERATION AND CREATION TO BUILD SCALE

On the rise in content demand…

There is a significant demand for entertaining content across markets, and this has grown especially in the last two years. Apart from OTT, short video platforms have taken a giant leap, encouraging user-generated digital content. Content consumption in Tier 2 & 3 markets has grown manifold, and this demand is expected to see an upward trajectory. The number of content creators and influencers has seen a major spike. Technological innovation has enabled media companies to evolve and adapt to newage tech solutions.

On changing consumer behaviour fuelling the growth of media startups…

Content consumption is now largely mobile-first. People are looking for exciting, authentic content, created not just by celebrities, but also by social media influencers and creators. This is true not just for entertainment and passive watching, but even for commerce and shopping. Consumers are looking for immersive digital experiences, which allows them to engage with content and with creators in more real ways.

On scaling up Roposo’s operations…

Media startups will need to leverage tech and AI-led moderation and creation, which will enable them to build scale through non-linear models. We believe the combined reach and capability of Glance and Roposo have the potential to set us apart from a scale perspective and create differentiation.

These numbers signal not only a strong rebound but a big shift in what is becoming the new definition of media, where technology has become both the disruptor and the saviour.

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