With a global industry size estimated at $251.7 billion in retail in 2015, licensing is a force to reckon with. In India though, licensing is a much smaller market of about R4,000 crore ($600 mn), which shows tremendous potential as it is poised to hit double digit growth in the future. With India’s appetite and love for entertainment, entertainment licensing is the biggest slice of the licensing business. However the space is changing dynamically and there are a lot of new genres like sports, fashion and celebrity licensing which will eventually become turning points for the industry in India.
Trends in licensing across the world are shifting focus on youth and adults with TV shows such as Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and movies like Star Wars, Superman, Batman and other big franchises. Another interesting trend that started last year and is gathering force is the retro revival of properties. For instance, Pokémon with the launch of Pokémon Go took the world by storm with its heady mix of nostalgia and tech. Fashion merging with entertainment properties is another area which is seeing a lot of traction today.
Beyond kids’ entertainment
India too is echoing some of the global trends, along with the rapid rise of a few genres which were dormant till recently. Traditionally India has been a kid’s entertainment licensing territory. As a testimony to the growing industry and increase in the market for young adults, there is a growing presence of licensed products across apparel, footwear, phone and computer accessories, stationery, gifts and novelties for adults not just for brands like Superman, Batman and Pokémon but also properties such as The Simpsons, Star Wars and Family Guy which are meant for adults.
Sports licensing over past years has been picking up market in India tremendously. While cricket continues to rule the viewership market in sheer numbers, football is turning out to be a bigger force in L&M. There has been a marked growth in viewership, interest and on-ground activations for football in India, largely driven by European Club Football as well as the emergence of ISL.
The fanatic following both on broadcast and online is also reflected in the demand for authentic merchandise of football clubs and a host of EPL and La Liga clubs are eyeing India as a big market. Prominent clubs with merchandise for both kids and adults in India are Real Madrid and Barcelona, and 2017 is a big year with a slew of big launches on the anvil.
Digital properties and celebrity licensing
In the kid’s entertainment platform, there is a sizable presence of Indian animation in properties like Chota Bheem, Motu Patlu and others which are big on viewership, and do quite well in the licensing space. Japanese animation heavyweights like Doremon, Pokémon, Beyblade and Ninja Hattori have a massive share of viewership given the appeal of universal themes of adventure, friendship and teamwork. Both Pokémon and Beyblade have huge licensing plans in India in 2017. The last segment which continues to do well and will see more action on the licensing front are language agnostic properties such as Tom and Jerry, Oggy and Shaun the Sheep which present an easy appeal for kids.
2017 will also see a massive increase in digital property licensing opportunities. Properties like Angry Birds and Candy Crush continue to be big draws for licensing globally. In fact, the Angry Birds movie in India was the third most popular animated release in 2016 and was dubbed in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. This has had a ripple effect on the licensing for Angry Birds.
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Pre-school is another interesting space in the digital platform. ChuChu TV, an Indian pre-school channel for instance, is watched across 75 countries with over eight billion views and over seven million subscribers on its YouTube channel. ChuChu TV plans to launch its global licensing programme in 2017. In India, celebrity licensing has tremendous potential. Brands like Being Human, HRX, Imara, Wrogn and Skult are making waves already in the market and 2017 will see a concerted move with more celebrities joining the licensing band wagon. And given India’s big love for Bollywood and celebrities in general, this hitherto untapped market will open up in a big way.
– Jiggy George, founder & CEO, Dream Theatre