Bigg Boss maker Banijay bets big on cricket | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Bigg Boss maker Banijay bets big on cricket

ByShuchi Bansal
May 10, 2024 06:44 AM IST

Dhar said the company is also developing a show on the line of the cult television miniseries from the 1980s, Bodyline. “There are so many stories about India-Pakistan, India-Australia and India-England games that can be told dramatically,” he added

Banijay Asia, the content production company known for adaptations like The Night Manager, Call My Agent Bollywood and The Trial (The Good Wife), is no longer associated with the The Kapil Sharma Show after the show moved to Netflix. However, Banijay is readying an arsenal of sports programming and live events to de risk its business in the volatile Indian market.

(L-R) Managing Director Bollywood Tourism Manoj Gursahani, Salman Khan, Managing Director Endemol India Deepak Dhar and CEO COLORS Raj Nayak
(L-R) Managing Director Bollywood Tourism Manoj Gursahani, Salman Khan, Managing Director Endemol India Deepak Dhar and CEO COLORS Raj Nayak

Banijay Asia first acquired Endemol Shine, the maker of Bigg Boss, Khatron Ke Khiladi and MasterChef, and now plans to make India the production hub for its shows in other markets. For its foray into sports programming, Banijay inked a strategic partnership with Ravi Shastri’s company Sporting Beyond to leverage his expertise. Deepak Dhar, founder & group CEO at Banijay Asia and Endemol Shine India, said while live cricket is well captured, there’s room for scripted dramas, reality shows and documentaries around the game.

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Plans are afoot to bring to life the cricket adaptation of Banijay’s international format The Match – a football reality show in the UK. “It’s literally a football academy training people who want to be part of a football team. Here it will be a cricket team in training that will be filmed 24X7,” Dhar said. A Ficci-EY report on media and entertainment said though there were fewer reality shows in 2023, they pulled in very large audiences. Drama, crime, action and thrillers were the other predominant genres in OTT, it said.

Dhar said the company is also developing a show on the line of the cult television miniseries from the 1980s, Bodyline. “There are so many stories about India-Pakistan, India-Australia and India-England games that can be told dramatically,” he added.

Banijay is going aggressive at a time when the country’s television and streaming businesses are under enormous pressure. Pay TV connections are declining and OTT subscriptions are seeing slower growth rates and saturation in the metros.

The Ficci-EY report noted that original streaming content produced in 2023 versus 2022 remained flat at 3,000 hours. This could be owing to OTT services’ attempt at keeping costs under control, especially, since video subscription revenue grew at just 6% in 2023 with premium cricket properties available free to watch on mobile. The percentage of paying subscribers in total OTT consumers remained less than 15%, the report added.

On the broadcasting side, TV ad revenue fell by 6.5% in 2023. While pay TV homes dropped by 2 million, distribution income and time spent on TV improved by 2%. But the medium continued to lose premium properties in 2023 as affluent homes cut their cable connections.

Dhar agreed that the entertainment environment is challenging owing to consolidation and the winds of change. “There is a little bit of a slowdown but having said that, people want big shows like MasterChef, Temptation Island and Survivor. Platforms still want top products with top talent.”

Yet the company is looking beyond TV and streaming to generate revenue. Last November, it entered the live events business with the entertainment show it created before the India-Pakistan cricket match in Ahmedabad. In February it produced the Miss World beauty pageant. “Live entertainment is big and has seen a resurgence post-Covid. Now we are pretty much in all forms of entertainment,” Dhar said.

Globally, the €3.3bn Banijay Group operates in 23 markets and launched Banijay Events with the acquisition of live entertainment specialist Balich Wonder Studio in Milan. Dhar does not rule out acquiring an events company in India.

More recently, Banijay Asia announced expansion into South East Asia, with the formation of a new entity CreAsia Studio that will focus on local originals for key markets of Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand.

“India is a powerhouse in creating content. We’ve got the infrastructure and we make almost 700 days of Bigg Boss (in different languages) in one year,” Dhar said. Banijay had earlier produced Big Brother for China and filmed the show in Lonavala. “We could make Big Brother Vietnam or Malaysia out of India or shoot Survivor here for other markets,” Dhar said. “The aim is to build India as an outsourcing hub for content for the world. We have the creative, technical, production and logistics capabilities,” he said.

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