Content was always King and of recent times is the key thought process for business strategy of the future. The reasons are many primary being the technological advances in the distribution platforms and the humongous investment required to really succeed in a platform business whether it’s a broadcast network or an OTT. The key to success is increasingly being recognised as the ability to distinguish oneself which is largely through distinctive ‘Content’. Its distinctive content through its development and ownership which will provide value to enterprises over a long period of time. Not to say that distribution and platforms will lose relevance but they are subject to change and that too rapidly as we have seen in the recent past while Content seems always in demand.
Platforms both outside as well as in India because of their distribution muscle invested very heavily in content. Platforms and content therefore became synonymous leading to the demise of independent content owners except for a company like Disney which over the years has proved as to how best Content should be monitized. It continues to be among the highest valued companies in the entertainment space largely due to its content IPR’s. Time has come to unbundle the content from the platform and that many believe will be the saving grace for the entertainment businesses.
However it’s easier said than done. In India for example most of the content producers are either film producers or content contractors who produce content on a cost plus basis either for the local TV networks or now the OTT platforms like Netflix or Amazon. Film content where content ownership is common has inherently better quality than the TV content.Content with the IPR rights without being pre sold is considered a huge risk and expensive. Even the biggest content producer Balaji has been very cautious and selective in producing such content. Therefore the content which is produced is rarely exceptional as it caters to the lowest common denominator which attracts the advertiser. While everybody understands that this has to change, is there then an effort being made toward this objective ? My sense is that yes but very slow. Applause Entertainment headed by Sameer Nair is making that change and his future success will probably set of a trend.
Content and quality content requires investment in story writing talent and marketing as well as syndication ability. These skills along with cash investment can then change the way entertainment assets are built. There is lot of interest at the moment but not adequate investment. Hopefully the future will change!!