On an exclusive chat with tvnews4u.com, Endemol India’s Managing Director & CEO Deepak Dhar reveals the past, present and future…
1) How has Endemol’s Journey been so far in India.?
Endemol got launched during the time when International Production Houses in India were exiting. It’s been about a brief period of six years or so. The journey so far has been task-filled and right now we are the largest Non-fiction content company in India, with our presence in over six languages and in fact it was very successful journey too as we built some of the biggest franchises like ”Bigg Boss”, ”Khatron Ke Khiladi”, ”The Great Indian Laughter Challenge”, ”Chote Miyan”, ”Deal or No Deal”, ”Million Pound Drop”, which are being brought into the country and produced not only in Hindi Market, but for various different Markets. Right now we are the only producers who are operating across all the regional languages down South, Marathi, Bengali and Hindi.
2) Can you brief us about your current projects?
”Khatron Ke Khiladi”, on Colors was launched couple of weeks after the successful completion of ”Bigg Boss 8” and its extended version ‘‘Bigg Boss Halla Bol” that marked the entry of Farah Khan and delivered a good number. We are doing a Fiction show “Lagori” on Marathi that completed about 300 episodes and launched a kannada show called ”Divided” for Zee Kannada. Apart from this, we have many fiction and non-fiction properties lined up for various other Markets.
3) You are making International formats in India. Do you have plans to create home grown formats for Indian Audience that can go international.?
Yes, of course. Right now, we are bringing in Hit franchises and Blockbuster formats that has worked for us in the International markets like the US, UK and we are looking to develop the same in India. But of course the plan is in place now to start creating formats that will travel across globes. We have a very strong development team that is focusing in ideating a lot of new formats. We are welcoming formats from different genre, Be it Musical, Dance, Comedy or any other interesting ideas are taken seriously into consideration.
4) Deal or No Deal was a successful format in South, Do you have plans of launching a new season.?
Yes, We actually produced almost 430 episodes in various languages down South and obviously it was one of the best formats and now the updated version of the show has come up in the US market and it has many special features added to it such as new lifelines…. and we are planning to bring that interesting game show format to South Market during the next festive season. We don’t want to name the broadcasters right now due to various reasons but we will surely get back to you, once we start setting up the production of the show.
5) Can you differentiate the consumption pattern of audience in North India and South India (or different regions in India) towards your International formats..?
Well, I don’t differentiate between the audience, too much. I think the emotions and the way people sample the content is pretty much the same across the country. Of course, we have communicated very substantially for all the markets, in terms of language, culture, host, packaging and celebrity. As a part of the changing trend, it is significant to note that Hindi market is witnessing a lot of youngsters consuming general entertainment content which is why formats like Bigg Boss, Fear Factor – Khatron Ke Khiladi are doing really well and these are the formats that will definitely do well in the regional markets as well. we have seen Bigg Boss Kannada and Bigg Boss Bangla are doing extremely well and very soon we will be launching Bigg Boss in Telugu. We understand that a lot of youngsters are consuming this kind of content and in fact they need this kind of content.
6.Fiction contents are considered as a long term money spinner in Indian Television market, Endemol being a Non-Fiction format owners in International market. Do you have plans of exploring the Fiction arena in larger Markets.?
Yes, of course we have been putting our efforts to build some strong fiction properties for the past three years and we have done couple of shows for Star Plus and Star One that ran for more than 300 episodes, In fact we are making a Marathi show called ”Lagori….” which has completed over 300 episodes. But, basically we are looking to bring in a lot of ”Mini Series” (shorter fiction formats or Finite fiction shows), that is the new trend of consumption that is picking up in country. Recently, we in fact made the shorter fiction shows like ”Yudh” for Sony Entertainment Television and we will bring in more disruptive stories which are very finite.
7) Sun TV Network has acquired the dubbing rights of ‘Kahtron Ki Khiladi’ in South languages and its delivering decent numbers. Do you think an original remake could have done better than the dubbed content…?
Well, it was our strategy to start with the dubbed content to understand how the content fares in the market. In fact the content has fared to our satisfaction and to our liking. so we are definitely working on producing the original content in these regional markets. But, releasing the dubbed content in this market was part of our strategy to study the market response. Now since the content has fared well. This is giving us lot of confidence to bring in a very high impact, high adrenaline and high action show in to all the three or four markets down South.
8) Can you tell us about Endemol’s future plans for Indian National and other Regional Markets?
Like I said earlier, we are the only non-fiction producers in the country who bring in lot of international formats to Indian market. we have plans to bring in lot more new formats in to the Indian Television space and also to bring in lot of disruptive content. Mini-series like in Finite fiction formats in across the Markets. Apart from this we wish to expand our successful formats such as Bigg Boss and Khatron Ke Khiladi in to unexplored regional markets down South. We are planning to launch Bigg Boss format in Telugu and Tamil before the end of this year and we are in discussion with the broadcasters on the same and hopefully the deal might materialise at any time in the near future.
9) When you remake a format in South, where the budgets are always one third of Hindi market, How would you manage to sustain the quality of the show without affecting you Topline and Bottomline.?
The focus area and the strategy has been to actually set it up on the back of the production infrastructure of Bigg Boss that has already been created in Mumbai. So hence we make use of the infrastructure already in place and give the benefit to our regional clients / broadcasters. The strategy is to invest in the market on the back of our Hindi properties, so that it really work at the price point of the regional market, so that we can make the franchise to travel into many new and smaller markets too. Moreover, in certain game show formats like Deal or No Deal we used to combine the production of many regional languages at one point under single infrastructure to amortize the cost and mange to meet our margins on back of the volumes.
10) How was the journey of the format Biggboss in India..? Are you happy about the numbers delivered by the formats in India..?
You can see the success in Hindi when the show touched 3 TVR consistently and the extension of the format in itself shows that it was really building up and we managed to live up to the channel’s expectation in the extended Hallabol segment too with better numbers.
Bigg Boss, as a format we have completed 8 seasons in Hindi, two seasons in Kannada and we have produced one in Bangla. So technically, we have completed about 11 seasons of Bigg Boss in eight years. That itself is a tremendous success rate. The ratings are getting better with ever season along with the expectations from the audience and the deliveries are as per our strategy.
India is the only market in the world where we did three different Bigg Bosses in a year in different regions and got into understanding the size and scale of the format, which means we are doing almost 300 days of Bigg Boss in a year that makes us feel as if Bigg Boss is a company within Endemol.
11) When you shift the format like Biggboss from one channel to another, Do you witness change in audience behaviour in terms of viewership.?
Well of course, all channels and broadcasters have their own very dedicated loyal audience as they will be targeting a certain group of audiences, we are sensitive towards that aspect. However, I wish to highlight that Bigg Boss itself has cult viewership or loyal viewership that really moves up along with the format from Channel to Channel. we witnessed that in Hindi market, when we shifted Bigg Boss from Sony to Colors the eyeballs shifted too. Similar things happened in regional market when we shifted from ETV Kannada to Suvarna in Kannada market.
While, we are sensitive towards the Channels loyal viewership. Bigg Boss itself has a certain volume of loyal audience.
12)Tamil Nadu being the largest advertisement market. New formats in the South were always tested in Tamil language before it was taken to other markets; whereas in case of Biggboss it happened with Kannada market… Any strategy behind it..?
Well, there was no particular strategy behind the decision. But we could see a lot of youngsters consuming television content in the kannada market and Bigg Boss managed to seal the vacuum really well. We can see this trend moving to other markets like Telugu and Tamil as well.
13) Do you think Biggboss as format will be acceptable to Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam audience…?
I am pretty sure that Bigg Boss format will certainly impress the audience of Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. This has been already proven and the bridge of myth has already been crossed with the success of the format in Hindi and regional markets like Bangla and Kannada. The broadcasters in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam market are feeling encouraged and reaching out to us.
Having said that we have to tailor the content for the regional markets. Because what works in Kannada obviously can’t work in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. So it has to be treated and tailored, what works in Hindi does not work in other markets. we believe in tailoring the content with the kind of host we have, Celebrities we have, the kind of content we want to see in regional format. Bigg Boss needs to be customised and created according to the taste of regional audience.
Moreover, Bigg Boss has already travelled successfully to most traditional markets all over the globe like Indonesia, Latin America, whole of the European markets which are fairly traditional such as Spain, Middle East and even Pakistan is wanting to do a version of Bigg Boss or Big Brother and this proves that we have crossed the barriers long time back.
This is the testimony of the fact that Bigg Boss can fair well in South regional markets as well.
14) What is Endemol’s plans for Digital age that goes beyond Television..?
Endemol is one of the leading original digital content makers across the globe and we have a lot of original IP and we have lot of original formats which we will bring in to digital market as well. We are evaluating the possibility of making Bigg Boss’s digital franchise as well and creating the digital version of the same is also in the pipeline. We are also in deep discussion of converting many other successful formats into digital version.