Deepak Dhar-led Banijay Asia charts expansion plans for 2020

MUMBAI: With 2019 drawing to a close, content company Banijay Asia founder & CEO Deepak Dhar expects the coming year to be an exciting and busy one for the company. The plans include doing two to three shows with The Natural Studios, a joint-venture (JV) between Banijay Group and Bear Grylls and Delbert Shoopman.

Dhar feels that there is a gap in the market when it comes to adventure content. Banijay Asia, in which Banijay Group holds a 50% stake, is planning to bring high-octane content to the Indian and Southeast Asian markets.

“This is a massive point of excitement at our end. We are bringing a new kind of content which is about adventure and thrill. This genre is a little underserved here. Given the fact that a lot of the youth are watching not just linear television but also SVoD a lot of the action-adventure formats that we are creating along with Bear Grylls is something that e are really excited to take to the market,” Dhar stated.

He stated that adventure content will be the focus over the coming three months. “We are looking at least two to three shows in 2020 with Bear Grylls. We will be creating content for India and Asia.”

Banijay Asia is looking at both linear and OTT for shows that it makes with Bear Grylls. “This is truly the new category of non-fiction content which is a lot of adventure, thrill exciting content.”

Another focus area is to scale up interactivity in content in order to build a more meaningful viewing experience. Sports is another area of focus for the company in 2020. Drama is another area where he feels the company can build a lot of formats.

“We have the formats and concepts all firmed up. Now we are in discussions with partners and clients. As a company, we want to take the momentum to the next level in 2020 and be one of the leading content creators and producers in the market.”

He added that including original scripts and adaptation of International formats is always the first step to expand and create something new as well as unique.

“Additionally we will focus on building meaningful strategic alliances with A-list talent to not only expand the business but also ensure a quality product. In addition to that, advertiser-funded programmes like the one with GroupM is a great step as it has the potential for massive revenue. We are also looking at Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Malaysia for expansion.”

He noted that in 20 months, the content creation group has produced 25 shows spanning languages, platforms, and audiences across television and digital with 600+ hours of content and 14 shows on air and eight in production right now.

“Over the past several months, Banijay Asia has collaborated and devised the strategic partnerships with the talents who are best in their business like Salman Khan’s TV, MS Dhoni’s Dhoni Entertainment, Group M’s Motion Content Group, TalpaGlobal and Wavemaker to create content across television and web platforms for Indian and Southeast Asian audiences.”

He noted that major shows that have been well received include include ‘ARRived‘ (Youtube Originals), ‘Hostages‘ & ‘Roar of the Lion’ (Hotstar Specials), ‘Parchhayee‘ (Zee5), ‘The Kapil Sharma Show‘ (Sony TV), ‘NachBaliye 9’ (StarPlus), ‘Masters of Taste with Gary Mehigan’ (Fox Life) and ‘Myntra Fashion Superstar‘ (Myntra App and Zoom).

Talking about the Indian OTT environment, he said, “It’s a great time for Indian Digital ecosystem with the rapid increase in Smartphones (400 million), considerable improvements in bandwidth and data consumption (10 GB per month). Digital media is expected to take over film and print industry pretty soon.

Dhar stated that more than 1,200 hours of original content was created for OTT platforms in 2018. “I am expecting that to at least double in a couple of years’ time. There is ample space for regional and global players in the near future before consolidation starts taking place.”

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