Opinion

Cutting It Short

Curt Marvis, CEO and co-founder of QYOU Media, shares insights on creating original content for the mobile generation

TV service providers have enjoyed a phenomenal amount of success from investing in original programming, and this has continued with streaming services. Original programming is what turned Netflix and Amazon into major players in markets like the US and UK. Hoping to replicate this success in India, Amazon and Netflix have invested in original programming and high-quality long-form TV shows. Netflix’s first Indian original series Sacred Games made its debut in June, 2018 and Amazon released its first original show, Inside Edge in July, 2017. It is not just international players that are investing in original TV, regional TV providers like Hot Star, have been producing a compelling portfolio of original shows for years.
One unique characteristic of the Indian market is that it is home to over 400 million millennials. The viewing habits of this tech-savvy and upwardly mobile generation is transforming the entire TV ecosystem. According to research from CoLife, 85% of the weekly internet millennial population in India now owns a smartphone, with 43% using social media every day or watching videos online. This shift in content consumption habits, combined with the growth of mobile in India has resulted in mobile leapfrogging TV to become a first screen for younger audiences.
Forward thinking broadcasters such as Tata Sky have already recognised the importance of mobile when it comes to increasing reach among younger audiences with mobile-friendly content. In order to drive engagement among millennial and generation ‘Z’ audiences, Tata Sky developed a service which delivers expertly curated short-form video content to its mobile subscribers.
As mobile continues to become the consumer’s preferred device, the next phase of the media evolution will be driven by demand for premium mobile-first programming. Unsurprisingly, since the popularity of online video has grown, so has its quality. YouTube videos have come a long way from since the days of grainy ten-second cat videos shot on a mobile phone; it is now commonplace for everything, from beauty tutorials to fitness workouts, to be shot with DSLRs and professional lighting and rigging.
User-generated online videos are highly engaging and it is something that TV providers should consider including in their services. However, in addition to that, there is an opportunity to take it to the next level by creating short-form video content that has the budget of primetime TV, with recognisable talent, both in front of and behind the camera. For example, audiences could watch a show that is created by and features A-list stars and has the big budget feel of Game of Thrones, but it is condensed into 6-8 minutes so that it is suitable for mobile consumption.
Movie mogul, Jeffrey Katzenberg, recently founded New TV, which is promising to disrupt the market by offering high-end, short-form content tailored to mobile lifestyles from Hollywood’s best directors, such as Quentin Tarrintino and Peter Jackson. While still early days for New TV, Katzenberg has already set out a number of core principles that he believes will make high-quality mobile-first programming a success. First, there needs to be investment of $125,000 per minute, instead of the current $5,000 – 10,000 per minute, and no episode should last longer than 10 minutes. Also, there should be no advertisements playing during any show.
Katzenberg’s vision is a result of his long and successful career in Hollywood where he has been at the heart of producing great original content. It is easy to see how this approach is compatible with the tastes and viewing habits of Indian audiences. Some of the region’s most popular content creators are already creating highly entertaining digital-first content that is watched by an audience of millions on mobile devices. For example, Arre who is a producer of web-series, documentaries, social experiments and podcasts, and comedy platform, The Comic Wallah.
India is one of the most exciting TV markets in the world right now. There is a huge opportunity for TV providers to create and deliver quality mobile programming to meet the needs of India’s younger, digital-first audiences.

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