"Digital to be the next burgeoning space"

In a conversation with Retailer, Anupama Mandolin, MD, FremantleMedia India, talks about the freedom offered by digital space,company's know-how of creating digital format properties for licensing, and the reasons why it decided to go digital in India.
“Digital to be the next burgeoning space”
In a conversation with Retailer, Anupama Mandolin, MD, FremantleMedia India, talks about the freedom offered by digital space, the company’s know-how of creating digital format properties for licensing, and the reasons why it decided to go digital in India. 
 
What are your current, popular properties in licensing? 
Indian Idol and Idol Junior are the two most popular properties in licensing. We are going into the second season of Idol Junior. Our brand licensing that we have done in terms of additional properties – one of them was Corporate Idol, in 2013, with one of the corporate companies, and it was really successful. That is one thing that we are exploring and the other is the Indian Idol Academy, which we instituted two years ago in a partnership. It is something being built steady and with the second season of Idol Junior about to start, we are hoping that the Idol Academy grows along with it.  
 
Have you done any licensing pacts in merchandise, product development etc?
We are not really into merchandising, but we are into developing apps, games etc. Also, we have put a lot of clips of the last season of Corporate Idol on YouTube and there is a dedicated YouTube channel for our IP. That calls for a lot of traction. One of the contestants of our show was picked up for a show in the US. We have tried, we have doubled and we have seen the result, which is why we decided to start with India’s Digital Superstar as the first exclusive property, and then we will look to venture into more.
 
What were the challenges on your part?
We actually own these products so it was more of an opportunity, which we hadn’t explored. Past 2-3 years, we were venturing into more diversified spaces, the problem is only when you create an indigenous property, which when completely owned by broadcasters, then all the IP rests with them. It is up to them whether they want to spin it off or not. 
In our case, Idol and Got Talent rests with us, allowing us a little more leverage in how we want to explore and build for franchisors out of those formats.
 
What made you to partner with Zenga TV? What is the nature of this alliance between FremantleMedia and Zenga TV?
We make properties in digital format, so it is easy for us to build franchisee of different brands. That is why we decided to spin our existing trends and leverage the trend of talent hunt and get into the digital space because this is something we believe and see as the next burgeoning space. So, we decided it as the best property to venture into, given what we are already known for.  
Zenga TV is helping us with the backend, setting up the infrastructure and guiding us through the digital language. We are the creative partners and we are seeing how to roll it out in terms of content and the innovations we can do, from what we have seen over the past three years. 
 
From your perspective, will digital become parallel to television in coming times? 
Yes, it will be a parallel platform. I don’t think digital will ever outgrow television in that sense because TV is the medium with widest reach and is accessible by all. The country still has bandwidth issues along with basic infrastructural issues. However, it is a space that is growing, and that too, at a very fast pace. So, there is no reason to not venturing into this. The sponsors are equally excited by this and it does allow for long freedom, in terms of creation of content. 
 
Are there more propertiesto unveil? Are you looking to create Indianised versions of properties?
If this property (Digital Talent Hunt) works, we will go for a couple of seasons, thus making it as seasonal property, which will gradually be turning either annually or bi-annually. 
In terms of other genres, we will explore fictions among others. We have a couple of our own properties, which we may want to venture into the digital space. For instance, we have a show called ‘Take Me Out’, which is a dating show, perfect for youth space. For some reasons, the broadcasters have been picking it up. We believe and are convinced that it is something very edgy and the youth will love it. If eventually we are not successful in the cable, then we will take it to digital space. So, we have an existing catalogue, which we can look at filling air in digital space, or else, we can go for creating fresh IP with fresh indigenous property. 
 
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