The content market is phenomenal and the spectrum huge with audiences embracing everything from a 30 second TikTok video to a 3-hour long feature film. You look around and everyone from a regular individual to a writer or director is a creator. Each equally passionate about driving engagement and seeking better reach. Who will win the content war?
In an engaging session moderated by Anant Rangaswami (Editor, CNBC, Network 18); Megha Tata (MD, Discovery, South Asia), Neeraj Roy(MD, Hungama Entertainment) and Vivek Jain(Strategy Officer, Times Internet) delved deeper into consumption, engagement and monetization within the content industry.
How does one drive monetization when the entire world is creating?
Content production is a tricky game. TikTok videos may get viral overnight turning creators into influencers. Stepping into the content business with the expectation of monetization will require patience, consistency and strategy. According to Neeraj, “the move from trial-based or free to subscription based has to be systematic.” He believes in the strategic process that has and shall continue to work for creators. The conversation led me to the following conclusive steps:
- Create– This is the primary act. Like Hemingway says, “if you wish to be a writer, all you need to do is sit in front of the typewriter and bleed.” Creators becoming influencers and eventually transforming either their content or content driven brands into business first created consistently. Consistency is key.
- Analysis- Creating content for targeted audiences always has an edge over generic content. The careful and close analysis of the consumption by users helps generate data that can lead to better content in future. Technology plays a pivotal role here. Metrics across various mediums or platforms must be analyzed and content tailored accordingly.
- Modes of monetization- When 1 and 2 are sorted, and consistency maintained, the drive eventually leads to monetization through paid subscriptions, ads and paid partnerships with influencers or other channels leading to monetization. “Compelling content always has a market. All you need to do is create,” said Anant when probed by one of the audience members.
Neeraj also believes that “the 80/20 rule will work best for the content monetization market wherein 80 % of the revenues shall come from subscriptions while the remaining 20% will come from ad revenues.”
Technology is already driving the content market forward. Netflix subscribers grew to a whopping 167.1 million paying users in the last quarter of 2019 along with over 4.6 million free trial customers. The estimated number of engaged users for the platform is estimated to be 167.1 billion, according to a report by Statista.
Tech Empowered Content
Streaming platforms deserve a special mention in removing barriers of local/global languages and making varied forms of content available for the users. Korean Director Bong Joon Ho winning the Best Picture at the Academy Awards for his social drama ‘Parasite’ stands as a stellar example of audiences consuming content with globally relevant subjects despite the language barrier. Tamilian Director Thiagarajan Kumararaja’s cinematic drama ‘Super Deluxe’ is another such example closer to home which has appealed to audiences despite its local language and context.
“1.8 billion users are consuming non-scripted content out of which almost 80% is regional. 38% of the content consumption comes from South India. Regional Content is playing from the front,” says Megha, who heads the South Asian region for Discovery Channel. The market is opening wide and wider still for creators and barriers of language and reach should be the least of their worries.
What happens plagiarism or piracy of good content (a key worry for many creators)? Neeraj shares an interesting take with a few personal examples from his career. “Piracy should never be a worry. The rule is simple. If content is being pirated, be happy that it’s reaching a wider audience and it is popular. Trust me the dues for the creator will come in some form or another.” His reaction reminded me of a similar question answered by renowned author Jeffrey Archer during his recent India tour. He laughed and shared how a young Indian boy prodded him to buy a book at a signal while he was in his car saying the book was popular among readers and the first copy that he was selling was a readable print being sold for less than half the price of the original. The book in question, ‘Only Time Will Tell’, written by Archer himself and not known to the young boy. The audience laughed when Jeffrey explained the passion with which the boy sold the book to him. Archer happily bought a plagiarized copy of his own book thinking to himself that this only meant a wider reach for ones who may not be able to afford the book- “Well at least they’ll read my words, and that’s good enough”, said the author.
Tech-empowered content is real. Audiences will discover this gradually for better consumption and even wider reach since, “live translations will soon happen in your ears instead of visual subtitles. Content will be served exactly the way you want it”, signed off the panel.
What should a tech-friendly future have in store to ease the job of creators? Tell us in the comments below.