'Zoom Studios to create content for OTT players'

Nikhil Gandhi, President-Revenue, Times Network, reveals elaborate plans for the YouTube channel of Zoom Studios and tells us why launch of its B2B division has become necessary

06 May, 2019 by MOUMITA BHATTACHARJEE

Zoom Studios, the original content arm of Zoom from the Times Network, turned one recently, clocking 80 million views and 1 million+ subscribers on its YouTube channel and Facebook page respectively. For the next year, the channel is getting into the B2B space by creating content for other OTT players while strengthening its B2C variant further by introducing 8-10 shows this year. Talking about growth projections of Zoom Studios in the coming year, Nikhil Gandhi, PresidentRevenue, Times Network, mentions how it is getting into the syndication space as well as the overseas market.

Gandhi explains, “For this year, we want to branch out into two different sets. Now, we are largely a B2C model where we are going after our consumers and viewers. There is a great appetite for content consumption with the advent of the OTT space which is completely backed by exploding data consumption in our country. So we are capitalizing on that. We want to take the subscriber base 3-4 times higher than what it is currently. We intend to create 8-10 new shows this year with new formats. Some of the stories will come up with repeat seasons. On the other hand, with the success of Zoom Studios, many of the OTT platforms have approached us to create content for them. That gave us the idea to launch our B2B division that will help us focus on building content. We will lend our brand of story-telling to them in a completely different format by either co-owning the IP or retaining the IP. We have currently inked a big deal with a very prominent player for three shows, to begin with, which will happen for the next 12-24 months.” Here are excerpts from an interview with Nikhil Gandhi:

Q] Do you think there will be overlapping of shows on the OTT platforms and Zoom Studios?
The shows that are already on the Zoom Studios YouTube channel, we don’t want to take them away from our subscribers and put on any OTT platform. If we have to put it on OTT platforms, it will be based on commercials. But we would like to keep the content on the YouTube channel as the first destination because I want our subscriber base to grow 4X. It anyway is a digital-first content. Even now, it goes up on YouTube first and then on the channel.

Q] How are the ideas for OTT pitched?
We are conscious of where we want the Zoom Studios brand to grow. We want to be a branded content studio. Consider an Anurag Kashyap film or a Dharma film… we want Zoom Studios to get that kind of brand value. When you see the show, it should be called a Zoom Studios show.

Q] Do you think there could be a conflict of interest between Zoom Studios content and that created for OTT platforms?
That is a dilemma the creative teams generally grapple with. Even in case of a current show we want to develop for Zoom Studios, one of the OTT players got very attracted to it. So it boiled down to some kind of financials and we figured it made more sense to make it under the OTT space. But the good part is that we are lending the brand name there. My brand gets a lot of exposure there. It depends on the structure of the deal and who owns the IP.

Q] Times already has MX Player in the OTT space. So why choose YouTube over MX Player?
While MX Player is a part of the same group, it is a different division altogether. We also have a phenomenal legacy as far as YouTube is concerned. Before Zoom Studios, we used to dish out about 50 videos on YouTube every day. We are looking to make this model successful; the platform is not really the question. It is about how we build and give it the maximum amount of exposure as far as digital is concerned. But, I will have one destination where it gets maximum exposure, to begin with, in order to get it established and then it can travel from platform to platform.

Q] How will brands be integrated into the content?
We have a very strong commercial model. We commission shows a year in advance. So branded content sales happen much before that. Many brands are lined up. Myntra has been part of the conversation. So our model is completely based on brands coming and putting in money upfront. The other model is syndication. Many platforms are talking to us to buy shows.

Q] Have you closed any syndication deal so far?
Syndication deals are under process. We are not interested in a single show deal. We want to create about six shows at least, which makes sense as a package. We are presently working on one deal in the US and two deals in South-east Asia.

Q] Would the content be predominantly Hindi or will you also venture into the regional space?
For two platforms, we are making Hindi content. There is one that wants us to look into the regional space. Eventually, we might move into that space.

Feedback: moumita.bhattacharjee@exchange4media.com Category: Interview Volume No: 15 Issue No: 48

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