Star India MD Sanjay Gupta urges M&E industry to harness the power of digital

MUMBAI: The emergence of digital allows the media & entertainment (M&E) sector to break away from the mould of traditional media, Star India MD Sanjay Gupta said in his Industry Address speech at the opening of the FICCI Frames 2018.

He also stated that the M&E sector needs to rethink business models from the ground up.

“With digital, we have the license to break away from all the trappings of traditional media,” he told the gathering. “We need to rethink business models from the ground up,” he added.

Elaborating on his point, Gupta said that the TV industry needs to challenge the constraints of 8 pm prime time, daily and hourly news formats and 22-minute episode lengths.

He further stated that the film industry should challenge the traditional model whether to release films first in a theatre or on a mobile screen.

The concept of a radio station also needs to be challenged whether it is delivered via the traditional route or through digital.

He also stated that there is no need to follow any templates in content. “No longer does a scorecard need to appear at the bottom of the screen in every cricket match. No longer does the viewing of sports need to involve only watching. It could be and should be “Watch & Play”! Gupta said.

Gupta added that the M&E industry needs to set new standards of storytelling and reimagine the way stories are told. He also said that the industry should not allow legacy issues to shape the creativity.

He further noted that the explosion of smartphones has resulted in an addition of 35 crore more screens which is unprecedented for any industry in the world.

“By the end of 2018, we would have added another 16 crore screens. This means that we will have 51 crore new screens on which us Indians will be engaging with all kinds of stories be it drama or sports, films or news. In a short period of 24 months, we have moved up from 16 crore TV screens and 9000 cinema halls to 67 crore screens,” he stated.

Gupta lamented that the industry has come up with a narrow definition of audience such as only young or only urban or only male.

“Digital is not equal to youth and urbane. 51 crore is roughly the number of people who voted in the last Lok Sabha elections in 2014. They come from large cities to the smallest of villages, they reside in Kashmir to Kanyakumari, they have amongst them the young to the very old, both men and women. All of them, given power of connectivity, have access to not just our stories but content from across the globe,” he noted.

The rise in the number of screens will have huge implications “how we engage with stories – the time we spend, what we like, how deeply we follow them, and above all, how to have a two-way conversation with both stories and storytellers”.

The Indian broadcasting produces over 60,000 hours of original television drama content every year which is over 12 times what America produces. Close to 2,000 movies are released every year across languages, while Hollywood releases just around 700.

“And we are a creative powerhouse with a pool of over 4 million people engaged in telling these exciting stories,” he added.

Gupta extolled the industry to bring about a change in standards of quality, the way technology is used as also the magnitude of investments that are made needs to change.

The Star India MD also stated that the Indian M&E industry has a lot to offer to the world. “We have so much to offer to the world – our technological prowess, our creativity and the power of Indian stories. The time is now – to not only ‘make in India’ but “Light up the World”!” he concluded.