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Indian media and entertainment close to "large-scale evolution"

Panjim (Goa), Nov 23: India's media and entertainment (M&E) sector is close to a "large-scale, game-changing evolution".

Digital technology and distribution, the growth of home entertainment, new distribution media like internet and IPTV, and the growing global appeal of new Indian movies are all driving this trend, says a new report here.

Business lobby network CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) commissioned international management consultants A.T. Kearney to "provide insights on actual business models that will emerge within this space."

Kearney's report says the Indian economy's growth and the new factors above could result "in the (media and entertainment) industry ranking high among the fastest growing sectors in India and the fastest M&E industry in the world".

"From the existing size of US$11 billion (INR 450 billion), reports have estimated the industry to grow at a CAGR of ~18% (rpt ~18%) to reach US$25 billion (INR 1 trillion) by 2011," says a report released by the CII during the ongoing international film festival of India, underway in Goa.

TV, print and film will "continue their dominance in the next five years", says the report, while noting that there are new segments like gaming and radio emerging.

"The (Indian) public fascination with films explains why the Indian film industry produces the most number of movies in teh world -- over 1000 films annually," says the report.

But it also hints to some area of potential concern -- how digitisation will affect the "Indian film value chain" including production, distribution and exhibition; and what will be the drivers and rate of adoption, specially in exhibition where the tech changes have most impact.

Likewise, the study wonders what implications digitisation would have "on the way firms do business in this industry" and whether it could "fundamentally change the structure of the industry".

It raises other questions about digital distribution of films, whether exhibitors coujld improve their bargaining power with large producers, and the form in which Indian production houses need to get corporatised.

This report also wonders: Are theatres dead or what will bring the young population back to the theatre culture? What does it take for an Indian production house to become truly global? How can the industry as a whole fight the menacy of piracy?

India's film industry was estimated to be worth US 1.8 billion overall in 2006. Kearney estimates it would be worth US$ 4.4-5.1 billion (INR 176 billion - INR 204 billion) by 2011.

It stresses that digitisation of films, and changing consumer preferences, are going to "fundamentally change the landscape of the Indian film industry".

Digitisation would eliminate the cost of physical prints (Rs 50,000 to 60,000 per copy) and make the release of a movie across multiple locations simultaneoyusly, minimising losses due to piracy and "negative word-of-mouth". This could make theatres in smaller towns mor viable.

In Tier II and III towns of India, there is an estimated potential for 2000-3000 high-quality screen, it suggests.

But it warns the emergence of large multiplex changes will "significantly balance the power equation between the producer-distributor and the exhibitors, which has traditionally been largely skewed towards the former."

It warns that domestic box-office will face a growing competition from the international box-office, home video and some other new media forms.

Some interesting figures: Upto 97% of urban youth prefer to watch movies in multiplexes, in contrast to over 75% of non-urban population preferring to watch movies at home.

Even Bollywood movies in the recent past have tasted success in the international arena, with a few recent hits collecting over 50% of their overall gross from global box-office collections.

Connections count. Movies made by persons of Indian origin have raked upto 2-3 times the international revenues of national bestsellers.

India's home video earns just 8% of overall movie revenues, compared to some developed markets, where it contributes over 40%. This share could touch 14% by 2010. DVD players are growing, and original DVD prices are dropping to combat piracy.

TV has reached 60% households, and 13% of TV revenues come from film content, meaning a significant population relies on TV to view movie content.

Last few years have seen satellite rights grow at 25-30% from Rs 3-5 crore three years ago for a blockbuster to Rs 8-10 crore now.

Mobile is seen as showing "significant growth", with subscribers doubling year on year to reach 220 million subscribers today. "Unfortunately for the music aggregators and service providers, a significant portion (70-80%) of these revenues is retained by the operators," says the study.

Internet penetration in India remains low, and IPTV, which is growing globally, is still at a "nascent stage" in India. (IPTV) uses the internet protocol and high-spreed broadband networks to view TV content).

From Frederick Noronha

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