The last decade has been monumental for the media industry. From a monolithic, ‘large players take all’ scenario, the content landscape has broken into a million little pieces, with 30 second vertical videos – call them Shorts, Reels or the now banned TikTok – today collectively driving more ‘engagement’, time spent and views than ever. Sure, both conventional TV brands and digital brands would like to claim the crown on how many eyeballs they drive, but is that the point?
As marketers, we want to know what’s next rather than what’s happening today. Sure, investments in influencer marketing, new ad formats, and earned media have taken the world by storm. But what happens from here on will be more important.
Here’s what we need to watching out for:
The Talent: From insiders (what many refer to as nepo babies) and acts of brilliance from new comers and character actors, the industry will start using more talent emerging from the influencer cohort that’s appeared in the last few years.
We are already seeing early signs, with tier 1 content creators such as Prajakta Koli and Bhuvan Bam becoming lead artistes on well received shows on OTT platforms. These relationships will widen the talent pool the media industry has access to, and in many cases, the fan base of the creators themselves will make the commercial case for a series to be greenlit.
The Format: The great arms race for starting one’s own OTT platform will slow down, as funding for platform plays dries up. As Disney Hotstar’s experience has shown, there isn’t enough money going around, for everyone to make money. For every MX player that gets sold for paise on the rupee as far as investments go, mainstream formats will start mimicking the content getting the most engagement. I’d not be surprised to see a series of 60 second, vertically shot ‘Reelisodes’ with some high profile acts driving eyeballs and attention in the coming month. You can think of this idea as ridiculous, but the movement of our cricket from Test matches to T20 should help visualise this. Form follows function?
The Economics: When you see a complete breakdown of visual treatment from ‘slice of life’ produced by highfalutin crews, to most content being actual street side shooting by influencers, audience expectations can taper quickly.
In this case, audiences may become more forgiving of production standards to see a more riveting story. The amount of investments required to mount a production can come down significantly in the right hands. Remember, this has been done before. From Black Friday to Gangs of Wasseypur, Anurag Kashyap has shown a producer’s smarts can create wonders out of nearly nothing.
What happens next? The production end of content creation will get democraticised. More folks will create, produce and release their own content, rather than waiting for a platform to help finance their next ‘minimum opus’. I don’t think the payments coming out of YouTube and Instagram ads are enough to deliver shows today, but some new economics will have to emerge.
All of these trends are developing at a time of great change in the industry. TV channels are losing audiences from the 18 to 25-year-olds, just as newspapers lost them a few years ago. OTT platforms, mushrooming from under every rock in the last three years, are showing early signs of consolidation. And the audience is getting hooked to shorter and shorter formats. As always, for India’s media industry, what a time to be alive!
(The author is Director – Marketing at EnableX, a Communications SaaS Company. He tweets at @ironymeter. Views expressed are personal.)
(We are on WhatsApp. To get latest news updates, Join our Channel. Click here)