When OTT platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HotStar began gaining reputation in India, round 2016, Sameer Nair knew that individuals have been searching for new on-line content material. He realised there could be a increase in demand and there was a must create content material for these audiences and platforms.
Sameer, who had over 25 years of promoting, movie, tv, and media expertise, had labored with NDTV Think about, Star TV, and Balaji Telefilms. He was instrumental within the creation of Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) and the Kyunki tv soaps at Star. He had additionally labored on the launch of the OTT platform ALtBalaji.
The concept of a differentiated content material studio had been there in Sameer’s thoughts since lengthy and he launched Mumbai-based Applause Leisure in 2017, with the backing of Birla Group.
The inventive studio works on a hub-and-spoke mannequin, investing within the creation of content material and specializing in monetisation by means of execution platforms and distribution community.
When it comes to the enterprise mannequin, Applause green-lights, funds, and commissions reveals, after which companions with main streaming platforms within the nation, making a licensing IP and content material mannequin.
The workings and mannequin
Sameer stells YourStory, “We give attention to creating content material, structuring concepts and determining how they are often made commercially viable. We then work with execution companions like BBC, MA Leisure, Juggernaut, and so forth, with totally different administrators and writers. These companions then work with distribution platforms reminiscent of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sony Liv, MX Participant, Eros Now and so forth.”
Applause’s latest content material is Rip-off 1992, a Sony Liv 10-episode collection directed by Hansal Mehta. Primarily based on the guide Rip-off, written by journalists Sucheta Dalal and Debashis Basu, it essays the lifetime of dealer Harshad Mehta and acquired a IMDB score of 9.2.
Sameer explains they’ve a three-pronged method to content material. The primary theme is adaptation of worldwide codecs and reveals for Indian audiences and sensibilities. Among the reveals created underneath this are Your Honour, Felony Justice, and The Hostages.
The subsequent theme is guide diversifications. Examples are Rip-off 1992 and Avrodh. The unique content material consists of Metropolis of Desires, Hasmukh, and Raasberry.
The audiences and demography
Explaining why there was a necessity for differentiated content material, Sameer says when the Ok-Collection have been launched, it was “programming for that interval”. It had a unique rhythm and diversified characters.
The OTT format follows a unique type issue.
“As a storyteller, it is advisable to hold your audiences concerned in each format you select,” Sameer says. He says in 2000 when Star labored on the Ok -series and KBC, there have been 25 million “satellite tv for pc TV properties”. In 2010, this quantity went to 100 million; now, there are greater than 197 million satellite tv for pc TV properties.
When juxtaposed with telecom adoption, are 400 million 4G customers right this moment. “These are a mix of the 100 to 300 million satellite tv for pc TV properties. There may be an viewers that’s searching for differentiated content material.”
The pandemic accelerated the OTT adoption fee throughout totally different platforms.
A mass of niches
Sameer explains that whereas the brand new TV collection of the 2000s have been what was wanted then, the audiences quickly diversified. He says India as a rustic by no means had its HBO and Showtime, or Home of Playing cards and Sopranos moments.
However that is now occurring although the OTT revolution.
“You at the moment are speaking of a mass of niches, as a variety of the content material is changing into individualistic and personalised. For instance, you possibly can like watching Recreation of Thrones, however you don’t have to observe it with your loved ones. The streaming platforms are engaged on expertise to usher in deeper personalisation,” Sameer says.
He explains the market permits inventive studios like Applause to cater to the mass of niches. There are various tales to inform so long as the niches are of a sizeable chunk. This implies the crew has to work carefully with the distribution platform the place they showcase their pipeline of growth.
“If the platforms need, they’ll guide content material earlier. We work to know what they need and what they’re searching for. It helps us construct content material accordingly,” Sameer says.
Constructing an eclectic crew
As soon as Sameer had the concept, he contacted his pal and colleague, Deepak Segal. Not like most founders, Sameer and Deepak determined they’d keep away from hiring individuals from their references.
“You then get right into a consolation zone. We have been trying to construct differentiated content material; we needed to construct a crew of eclectic individuals. So, we employed individuals from promoting, tv, and content material.
“The factors: we have been searching for individuals who get pleasure from watching premium drama collection, and had a grounding in storytelling, and in appreciating and executing that content material,” Sameer says.
He provides that they’re able to obtain this by inculcating self-discipline. A inventive studio like Applause wants creativity and mavericks, however that must be inside a broader framework of what must be achieved.
“There may be all the time science, artwork, and magic in storytelling, and self-discipline ties all of it collectively.”
The problem of storytelling
When the story and the shape are in place, the storytelling turns into the important thing. Sameer says it’s “the most important problem”.
“The method of storytelling turns into crucial. For instance Rip-off 1992 is a good story that’s effectively advised. The well-told half comes from performances, writings, narratives, manufacturing and so forth. – all that contributes to the storytelling.
“Our focus is to select distinctive topics and concepts the place we attempt to dazzle, delight, disturb, and disrupt the viewers. It may be all 4 or a mix of two or extra. This implies it is advisable to hold a detailed eye on the concept and its execution,” Sameer says.
The market and future
Aside from Applause, bigger manufacturing homes like Crimson Chillies Leisure and Dharma Productions are are also creating and partnering for OTT content material.
Platforms like Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, HotStar, Zee5, Voot, Sony Liv, and others will contact $5 billion in income by 2024 in India, a PwC report says. Already the world’s quickest rising OTT market, India would be the sixth largest market by 2024.
The lockdown in 2020, and the next shutting down of theatres and cinema halls has elevated viewership and development of those platforms throughout India. Between March and July 2020, India’s OTT sector noticed a 30 % rise in paid subscribers from 22.2 million to 29 million, states RedSeer Consulting in its India OTT Video Market report.
Applause has additionally introduced a partnership with Gurinder Chadha’s Bend It and Sunder Aaron’s Locomotive World to develop a worldwide present titled Seeker. Collaborations with a number of Hollywood studios are in place to co-finance and co-produce IP.
There are some films in growth and a slate of 10 excessive idea options for theatrical and streaming launch, in partnership with main administrators and manufacturing companions.
Applause can also be co-funding and co-producing content material with like-minded content material creators from the business, like Juggernaut Productions.
“We’re engaged on new content material verticals – brief type, animation, and audio. We’re creating animation content material to leverage present IP in collaboration with like-minded creators. We’re additionally creating brief type content material for social media, UGC, and ecommerce platforms. In audio content material, we’re exploring content material and IP creation by means of strategic collaborations,” Sameer says.