In this Industry Spotlight with Creative First, Anuj Gandhi, founder of Plug and Play Entertainment, joined Lohita Sujith, Sr. Director, Copyright & Digital Economy, Motion Picture Association for a lively discussion on the business and digitalization of distribution. As a veteran in the media & entertainment distribution space, Anuj offered many insights into the evolution of distribution, highlighting India’s transformational moments as well as strengths.
Anuj Gandhi started by emphasizing the importance of reading to keep up with the ever changing world we live in. According to him, one must keep skillsets fresh and evolving because demands and technology change faster than we can even grasp. Previously, India could watch the west and know what was coming a few years down the line. However, now India is where things happen on the ground. Anuj said the last 6-7 years have been an innovative time in India, and cited examples of the west coming to India to learn technical skills such as app integration.
Anuj highlighted the importance of addressability in the traditional business sense. Before this, it was impossible to determine with certainty how many people were viewing a particular channel. It was immediately possible to know exactly how many subscribers one had when the market became addressable. This, along with a tariff order in 2019, were two things that Anuj identified as fundamental changes to business.
A further significant change occurred in 2017 with Jio and connectivity. The ability to access material on multiple devices and the influence of international players like Netflix, Youtube, and others gave consumers more power at that time. With this also came much bigger licensing deals which were also more complex.
Prior to platforms, there was no content monetization and licensing was limited to things like language. With platforms, Anuj explained, there were a number of rights and various changes to the structure of deals.
When asked what the government’s biggest contribution to facilitating more content, Anuj applauded them for their hands off approach. Anuj stated that the government watched OTT from a distance and allowed it to grow on its own.
Anuj enlightened viewers when stating that while on paper western countries have strict copyright laws, their implementation is still a big challenge. Anuj lamented that Indian content holders suffered in international markets such as Australia and Canada due to the availability of pirated boxes.
Anuj brings hope by reminding us that the last few years have been wonderful for content creators as consumption has increased and India has continued to innovate.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anuj is a veteran in the media and entertainment distribution space. In March 2012, he was instrumental in setting up IndiaCast a content monetisation arm of TV18 and Viacom18. He played a key role in founding the company, and under his direction, the business multiplied by four folds in its first five years. In July 2019, he took on an additional role at Reliance Jio as Head of Partnerships (Media)-Cable business. He was also involved in acquiring content for Jio video apps. Prior to IndiaCast, he was the CEO of India's leading cable TV distribution company DEN Networks for almost 3 years. He has also established MSM Discovery, which was the second-largest media aggregation business in India at that time. He served as President of MSM Discovery, which was a TV distribution JV between Sony Pictures Networks India (formerly Multi Screen Media) and Discovery Communications India, for over five years.