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Analytical Report from FICCI Frames 2018: 4-7 March, 2018, Grand Hyatt, Mumbai
Print Lowest & Digital Highest Growth in the Half Full Glass of Indian Media.
Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury, School Head, School of Media, Pearl Academy, Delhi & Mumbai
Glass Half Full, Half Empty
"Indian media and entertainment industry story, the big ambassador of Indian soft power, is that of
a glass half full and half empty", Siddharth Roy Kapur, Co-chair, FICCI Media & Entertainment
Committee, notes almost prophetically at the inaugural session of the annual jamboree of India M&E
Industry, FICCI Frames, at Grand Hyatt held from 4th to 7th of March, 2018.
Rightly so, indeed.
Healthy Domain Growth
The sector, according to the industry status report released by Ernst & Young and FICCI during the
event, touched Rs.1.5 trillion ($22.7 billion) in 2017, a growth of 13% over the last year, while the
economy overall grew at half of that rate. It is all poised to cross Rs.2 trillion or $31 billion by 2020,
which is a healthy growth. On the other hand, a few large areas of the industry, i.e. print, radio,
music, out of home and television: all grew at less than 10% over the previous year, print being at a
lowly 3%. Animation, films and digital media grew from 25 to 30% over the earlier year.
Look at another perspective. The direct employment in M&E sector has crossed 1 million people,
and the total including indirect and induced employment is above 5 million, which is a substantial
number, but is miniscule in front of 1.3 billion people strong nation, and a huge majority of this
number is under-trained and digitally semi or sparsely skilled whereas the growth of the digital
media last year was the highest, at 30% over 2016. The needs for structured and formal training in
content production, re-skilling of people already in the industry for long, and entertainment business
management skills to monetize content across all platforms, are all the more urgent today than ever
before. Media jobs being non-repetitive and imagination driven, though technology facilitated
heavily today, remain an area which will not be largely replaced by machines and hence are a long-
term job prospect, which is often missed out by learners and mentors alike.
Films Fast Forward
Look at the film industry which has grown by a very healthy 27% over the earlier year, and stands
now at Rs.156 billion in 2017, which is still less than half of what Avatar film earned in all languages
globally. While India has produced more than 1500 censored films in all languages together last year,
Hollywood has not crossed 700 films, but we have earned roughly 1% of the total income of
Hollywood! For us $100 million income of a film is outstanding success of a film, for Hollywood it is
$1 billion! We had around 8000 film screens by the turn of this decade in 2010 and China some
9000. But today China has crossed 45,000 screens for films, and we are at 9000 total. Dangal with
more income in China than in India and Bahubali in all languages together and both parts included
have earned like successful Hollywood films. Even Marathi and several South Indian language films
have earned more than 100 crores each: these being matters of pride and hope ahead. But low-cost
screens in the hinterland are a must. "Dial up the screen density for future growth in film sector
since supply is interestingly an important vector of demand here," rightly says Sudhanshu Vats,
Group CEO, Viacom 18.
TV to Stay
India produces 16,000 hours of fresh entertainment content for all general entertainment channels
together, which is 12 times more than USA, but earns less than 8% of the TV income of them. We
have 784 million TV-viewing people in India, more than the total population of European continent,
but an income much lower than them and with opportunities to grow further more in a nation which
is almost double at 1.3 billion.
Where is Digital Value Adds?
In spite of the enormous 30% growth of the digital media in 2017, to Rs.120 billion (up from Rs.92
billion in 2016), use of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence in the
entertainment sector is still in its infancy. Shooting in physical sets, use of given resources and
human skills are almost the sine que non of Indian entertainment content production, whereas
globally AR-VR- AI contribute to content generation heavily, cutting down human interference and
Media as Force Multiplier
We are all aware of the force multiplier impact of media and entertainment sector on other sectors
of the economy like tourism (e.g. Ladakh after 3 Idiots), fashion and merchandise, retail sales, mall
sales wherever multiplexes are there, etc. Tourism is already an industry of $150 billion and media
fuels the same. Media has seamless linkages with e-commerce. However, the potential in all of these
is not even a quarter exploited yet. There is enough headroom and tailwind for growth.
Industry's Self Introspection
There are several things that the industry itself can do to strengthen its reach, impact, business and
engagement of audiences. First, it has to realise that collaboration is a better strategy than
competition or even when you compete with your peers. Also, industry has to take common stands,
when facing the government, when combating attacks from fringe elements on itself, and when
upgrading its standards. Second, each media platform or initiative needs to learn to have some
unique positioning, specialization and focus and not do everything for everyone. Third, industry
needs to wake up to measurements, accountability and big data analytics, especially in the rising
digital age. Approximation and befooling audiences and advertisers, and data-fudging shall be
matters of the past, going ahead. Fourth, an immense quantum of collaboration with youths will be
needed, for example on the lines of V-SEP program of the Viacom group: Viacom Start-up
Government as Game-changer?
On the other hand, the government can be a game-changer too. And the biggest aspect in it is the
commencement of e-enabled time-bound single window of clearances for events, licensing, varied
content production permissions, et al, on which the Niti Ayog currently is working with support from
the industry. But that is a long way to go yet. With the data-prices falling, the digital access of
entertainment and information content has grown tremendously and audio-video consumption
experiences should be even better with 5G connectivity coming ahead. But for that the process of
auctioning 5G spectrum, facilitating ease of doing content and digital business etc need a major push
from the government at the Centre. Policy paralysis to uncertainty have often plagued the industry.
Since demonetization and GST implementation have been a twin attack on media economy, its
industry status now needs a strong fillip from the government to gain lost ground, credits, outreach
and credibility ahead.
Quest of a Positioning
The Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting, Smriti Irani, interestingly noted in her
interaction at FICCI Frames, that Indian M&E industry should not compare itself with Hollywood and
China (except for business numbers), but should position itself uniquely with its story-telling skills
with the largest media consumer base in the world being here.
Re-imaging the Future
The next move of this sector has to be re-imagine itself, and in digital language and space more
particularly, to create global capacity going beyond domestic market and the NRI-PIO circles (just as
seen in the case of Dangal or Bahubali). Media can be the true-blue Make In India success-story with
stories, people, technologies, places and force multiplier synergies with other sectors of the
economy: all being here and now in India.
Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury
School Head, School of Media, Pearl Academy, Delhi & Mumbai
Former Dean, Amity University, Mumbai.
Former Director, Symbiosis Institute of Media & Communication & Dean, SIU, Pune.
Former Dean, Whistling Woods School of Communication, Mumbai.
Former Media Adviser, Textiles Ministry, GOI; The Nippon Foundation & WHO, India.