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The next soft power

In retrospect just about over a decade back our only source of entertainment was the Friday evening ‘Chitrahaar’ and the Sunday evening movie on ‘Doordarshan’ clubbed with the AIR, writes Ronnie Screwvala. See full coverage.

india Updated: Nov 16, 2008 02:12 IST

In retrospect just about over a decade back our only source of entertainment was the Friday evening ‘Chitrahaar’ and the Sunday evening movie on ‘Doordarshan’ clubbed with the AIR. In 1950s to the early 80s, movies managed to pack cinemas all through this movie-crazy country. Then somewhere the ‘formula’ plots got outdated. Film revenues stagnated at about $1 billion annually which was less than one third the box office of a single major Hollywood studio.

That is now finally changing: Indians are getting wealthier and spending much more on entertainment. Media options are a plenty with everything from - television, mobiles, films, music, publishing, the Internet to radio. In 2007, the E&M industry recorded a growth of 17 per cent over the previous year, higher than the forecasted growth of 15 per cent projected in the previous year.

The industry reached an estimated size of Rs. 513 billion in 2007, up from Rs. 438 billion in 2006. In the last four years from 2004 to 2007, the industry recorded a cumulative growth of 19 per cent on an overall basis. India has come a long way, today the consumer is paying for content. People are now spending around 12 per cent of their disposable income on leisure and entertainment. This should go up to 20 per cent in the next two to three years.

The Indian E&M industry has been growing at a fast pace over the last few years and the trend is liable to continue. Growth of traditional segments and influx of new segments has opened a plethora of new opportunities. With convergence at the forefront of the E&M industry we are now addressing a global audience. Despite the sector being highly disorganized Indian companies are looking to broaden their horizon in terms of offerings and geographic presence.

In the 21st century the E&M industry in India would witness the migration to digital format. Following global footsteps the trend for distribution of E&M content over digital & mobile platforms would rise. Consumer migration to the digital format in turn would spark of consolidation and integration. With emergence of multiple platforms content producers would look at expanding presence among the proliferating channels to create an integrated setup. Digital distribution would also change the landscape for handling of intellectual property. Content fragmentation would continue due to reduced entry barriers offered by the digital medium. Consumption across all the three screens, dominating the consumer’s life, would continue to grow.

We have begun to sense the global undertones and are witnessing a transformation within this prolific yet anarchic entertainment industry. There is a strong recognition to brand India in the global markets today. While various industries have contributed to this international image the entertainment sector has also made a significant contribution. Today not only does our content have international takers, India is also well represented on most international forums.

Crossing Bridges - For the next big leap to happen and for the Indian industry to gain its rightful share in the global entertainment sweepstakes there is need for funding to bring in the scale and the infrastructure backbone, which would help attain the final impetus. While the industry transformation is a slow process the lead would have to be taken by one of the large media conglomerates which is poised to pave the way.

At this verge where every media is witnessing copious growth, the Entertainment Industry in India stands at the cusp of witnessing its big moment where the world will witness a Blockbuster. If US was the soft power of the last century, India has the potential to be the soft power of the next one.

The show has just begun.

First Published: Nov 15, 2008 21:04 IST