In 2019, it made Myntra Fashion Superstar, produced a web-documentary based on MS Dhoni’s life for Hotstar, and a fiction show for ZEE5
Banijay Asia, the production firm known for TV shows like The Kapil Sharma Show and Nach Baliye, has been focussing on digital shows lately. In 2019, the company worked with Myntra on a fashion reality show, produced a web-documentary based on MS Dhoni’s life for Hotstar, and a fiction show for ZEE5. Deepak Dhar speaks to Venkata Susmita Biswas about the shift from TV content to OTT content, and more.
Last year Banijay Asia created a digital reality show for Myntra. What were your main takeaways from this project?
The content ecosystem and landscape is changing, so it is now a good time to learn and unlearn ways of creating content, particularly for digital platforms. There are several reality shows on broadcast networks; the intention with Myntra Fashion Superstar was to cater to a young viewer who might immediately head to the Myntra app after watching the show to make a purchase. The big learning from this particular project was to understand and address the blurring of lines in content consumption. A lot of us on the team come from the background of creating content for television but we had to curate a programme that could be viewed and then acted upon within the app ecosystem.
Season 1 was received well and we are in discussions on what we can do next.
What are the challenges with creating non-scripted shows for digital platforms?
Content has, sort of, become like food and beverage in a way. It has become something that people want all the time. The entire vocabulary of the way that content is created and consumed is different today.
The unscripted side of digital content is something we are all trying to figure out how to develop and execute. Reality content for digital has to be curated differently from television reality shows, because people don’t want to watch a digital show that looks like the television version has been recreated for digital.
Digital viewers want bold, edgy, youthful, trendy content. People won’t be satisfied with shiny reality shows on digital; they are looking for engagement, gratification and interactivity while they watch content online. These aspects will be at the fore in all the other unscripted shows that we are making for other video streaming platforms.
Are you working on developing more digital reality show formats for the Indian audience?
Before Myntra Fashion Superstar, Banijay Asia co-produced a show called ARRived, a music reality show featuring AR Rahman, which was in fact YouTube’s first Original in India. Unscripted shows for digital is a growing trend and people are beginning to get the hang of the idea that one can create reality shows for digital.
We have created two unscripted shows within one year and we see a massive opportunity for non-fiction content for digital platforms.
What are the challenges when creating content for OTT platforms in India?
OTT has more opportunities than challenges. We have moved from an ecosystem where we were creating content for four-five broadcasters to 10 or more platforms now. The demand has grown by a big margin. There is a lot of unlearning that we are having to do when it comes to creating content for the OTT space. It is to address those concerns that we are constantly engaging with our international partners, global show-runners, and international story consultants to find new avenues to create both scripted and unscripted content. The evolved markets have a lot more to learn, so we are trying to bring those learnings to our development teams as well.
Comparatively, how expensive is it to create content for OTT platforms versus television shows?
The costs to create TV shows and OTT shows are not comparable. That said, it is worth noting that a TV show has an average of 25-30 episodes per season while an OTT show has fewer episodes (eight-10), therefore the cost per episode for an OTT show turns out to be higher than that of a television show. An OTT episode could cost twice or three times more than a TV episode.
The cost of a show is a factor of production size and scale. We see some synergies, savings and improved efficiencies in the process of developing a show and taking it to production.