Our main differentiator is our “risk-reward” philosophy which allows us to invest from the start in the creation of content, to then be licensed to the partners of the platform: Sameer Nair, Applause Entertainment

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  • It’s no secret that the Indian OTT space is booming and audiences are spoiled for choice in terms of the content available to them.
  • Applause Entertainment, the content studio responsible for bringing series like Criminal justice and 1992 scam focused on creating impactful content that stands out in the clutter.
  • We talk to Sameer nair, CEO of Applause Entertainment on everything going on in the content studio and what more they have in store for us.

The last few years have given Indian content studios a great opportunity to present themselves in their best light. Indians crave quality content and OTT platforms have constantly tried to improve their games, as only strong content will help them get rid of the clutter and make consumers choose one platform over another.

Applause Entertainment, 4, a content studio that is part of the Aditya Birla Group, has been a pioneer in delivering content that has been noticed and appreciated. Whether it was shows like Criminal Justice or Scam 1992, Applause came up with content that stood out.

While so far the studio has focused on original series, popular books, and adaptations of international formats like Criminal Justice, Hostages, he recently partnered with Amar Chitra Katha, an editor who has been our main gateway to Indian mythological stories. And with this partnership, Applause Entertainment will mark its foray into animation. Meanwhile, the company also plans to expand its offering with low- and mid-budget documentaries and films.

Industry veteran Sameer Nair, who was the man responsible for giving us Kaun Banega Crorepati, is the head of business at Applause Entertainment, and he’s got his plate full right now. It’s currently focused on bringing bigger, more impactful content to your screens. In a recent conversation, he told us more about the partnership with Amar Chitra Katha, his expectations of the Indian content space, and his plans for Applause Entertainment.

Extracts:

Q)
Your partnership with Amar Chitra Katha marks your foray into animation. What will this partnership involve?

ACK is a popular Indian brand with over 400 stories and comics. Generations of Indians have grown up reading these stories. Now, with this partnership, we want to both bring these characters to life in high quality animated episodes for local audiences, as well as bring our proud Indian culture to global audiences. We plan to work with quality animation partners and storytellers to help us reinvent these iconic tales for the 21
st century.


Q)
Applause has been very successful in terms of the content you’ve produced over the past few years. Why was this a good time to explore animation?

Applause is a content and IP creation studio. We are storytellers and we want to tell stories for all types of audiences. Different stories work best in different formats. As a studio, we’ve made sure to produce content in the format that best fits the idea, whether it’s drama, documentary, unscripted, movie, or ‘an animation or a game.

Q)
Applause is 4 years old but 1.5 years on that, we have lived / are living a pandemic. What impact has this had on your business?

The pandemic has affected us like everyone else. Productions have been blocked, cinemas have been closed, working from home has become the norm. But online content consumption has exploded exponentially. The public adopted OTT services and began to consume content across languages ​​and borders. They accepted new forms of storytelling and created a host of new stars. The screenplay became the hero supported by a set of good actors and directors. So far we’ve had a pretty lucky 2020 and 2021, having released over 15 drama series across all platforms, including Scam 1992 and Criminal Justice S2, to name a few.

Q)
What have been some of your key learnings over the past 1.5 years?

Our key learning was somewhat of a validation of our original premise; that we should obsessively focus on quality storytelling and listen carefully to what our consumers say, feel, do. We will be able to anticipate and create for the gigantic streaming market which is exploding in India and around the world.

Q)
India’s OTT industry is booming. People crave bigger, better content. How are you as a production house equipped to meet this demand, and what makes Applause different from other content production houses?

We continue to invest aggressively in incubation and early stage development. The public’s appetite for quality content will only increase; this is the key word – quality – variety and diversity. Our learnings over the past 4 years have also helped us improve our creative and business algorithms, and now allow us to place bigger bets with skill and scale. Our main differentiator from other studios remains our “risk-reward” philosophy which allows us to invest from the start in the creation of content, to then be licensed to platform partners.

Q)
Having your content on global OTT platforms also means the world is opening up for content. From a quality perspective, where does India fit in the overall picture? Can we have content that goes beyond geographies and finds relevance across the world, something like Money Heist / Game of Thrones?

I think the quality of Indian content is constantly improving. That being said, as the market grows, streaming content will be distinctly split into a massive AVOD offering and a more premium SVOD tariff. All content is created for a primary audience; sometimes some of this content transcends languages ​​and geographies to resonate with a global audience. Obviously over the years Hollywood has built this powerful content franchise designed for global audiences, but I think content from other countries will gradually be accepted by everyone as well. For example, there was a phase where Chinese and Hong Kong Kungfu films had become fashionable. Now, Korean drama series and KPop have broken out. It will be no different for India.

Q)
In the future, what will be your main areas of intervention? Where will your next phase of growth come from?

Our next phase of growth will come from larger series, films, language extensions, global collaborations and animation.

Q)
How important is regional content to Applause?

We don’t quite call it “regional” content; for us it remains to tell high quality stories in languages ​​beyond our current hindi / hinglish slate. The world of streaming is increasingly becoming a borderless world and borderless content is increasingly accepted. This unfolding scenario also sets the stage for Indian content to resonate with audiences around the world, not just Indians.


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