The Indian TV business has given the first growth leap to the animation sector, which has been taken a notch up by OTT, but the silver screen’s turn to drive the business further is still awaited
By Devdatta Potnis
The world as we know has changed after COVID 19 happened. While most of the repercussions aren’t positive, one of the sectors which has benefited from the changes in the world is animation; mainly on account of couple of reasons.
Easier to adapt ‘work-from-home’ for the production work-flow
Animation follows an IT industry sort of production discipline, blended in with the creative business sensibilities. This allowed the business to a better adaptation to virtual working, while keeping the spirit of fun, which is innate to animation as a format.
Content becoming more a need
With restrictions galore on all fronts, food and content are perhaps the only sacrosanct and assured entertainment avenues in a post pandemic world. Add to it the fact that the kids are at home, and animation ought to boom.
Concurrent growth of Pay TV and OTT platforms in India, with animation being a key focus
New Pay TV platforms in the kids’ category launched in 2020 while the existing industry leaders continued to go from strength to strength. Add to that OTT’s focus on kids’ programming for the stickiness on the platform and yet again, we animation folks are smiling.
Digital revolution creating more content consumption avenues
Digital nannies like YouTube aren’t new to millennial parents. With the kids being home-bound, their consumption has seen a surge too. From an industry standpoint, which is already under-indexed when it comes to advertising revenues from Pay TV (the primary source of revenue for the TV business in India as the subscription fees are much lesser than their global counterparts); there are restrictions on the commercial viability of genres like preschool. Internationally, preschool is as big if not more in size as the 6-9 category. Digital has proved that this rather important category opens up for India as well and the mushrooming of kids’ centric digital platforms is a shining testimonial to that.
Lockdown creating a greater demand for family inclusive content leading to animation transcending beyond the kids only audience
Most of us have had the privilege of being locked up with our family members in the lockdown. While the OTT boom for content consumption has been spoken about at length, another important aspect of this consumption is the thrust on family friendly content, which has brought animation into the focus and let it go beyond the usual ‘kids-only’ category.
All of the above reasons have led to animation gaining a greater mind share from the end consumer and thereby a more significant position in the media and entertainment (M&E) industry at large. From being a relatively smaller sector in the overall Indian M&E industry, there is consistent growth and progress in the sector. But to say that it has taken center-stage would be a tad much.
For all M&E industry trends India always looks westward. But while several Hollywood animation films have crossed the billion-dollar mark at the box-office; an Indian animation film, with the best of animated brands driving them, would struggle to net in even a couple of millions, and that was in the pre-pandemic period. The Indian TV business has given the first growth leap to our animation, which has been taken a notch up by OTT, but the silver screen’s turn to drive the business further is still awaited.
On an optimistic note about the bright future of this beautiful business, I’d like to conclude that Indian animation business will truly take center-stage in the Indian M&E industry, when the following would happen when theatrical box-office becomes a major contributor to the business and animation becomes more of a chosen entertainment medium, crossing over into categories beyond kids.
The author is SVP revenue and corporate strategy of Cosmos Maya.