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Web content’s leaders, small firms partner for wider reach


The digital content elite is marking its presence among the masters of the space, creating compelling low-cost, high-quality content that caters to a young audience for streaming.

Saregama, India’s oldest music label, recently acquired a majority stake in Pocket Aces which operates popular YouTube channels such as Copy Filter and Dice, and Disney + Hotstar joined the multi-lingual storytelling platform Pratilipi. Industry experts see this as the start of a consolidation phase, where the smaller players look to build scale and reach, while the larger entities target a younger audience. Both leverage each other’s strengths to create content for the growing digital space.

According to Ranjeet Pratap Singh, CEO and co-founder, Pratilipi, India needs more content in local languages ​​since a large number of Indian language users have recently joined the Internet for streaming and other purposes.

“Different companies will have different priorities and strategies at different points in time. Some are looking at stories that may appeal to a specific target segment, some are looking at stories that can stretch over multiple seasons, and others are looking at stories that have mass or global appeal. Most of the stories that our partners have decided to produce are not only those that resonated very well with Pratilipi readers, but also those that have already proven that the same user love of them in different formats, including text, comics and audio, which increases the chances of a new format, TV, film or OTT, which has been so successful,” said Singh.

The entertainment ecosystem has four main parts – original IP, development, production and distribution. Most partnerships are between those with synergies across different parts of the value chain, and organizations that can cover all parts individually or through acquisitions. Such partnerships will usually have better quality content as well as financial leverage.

Additionally, many smaller entities have failed to achieve scale or reach despite a reputation for strong content, and it is difficult for them to drive revenue in a fragmented industry.

“Content from a variety of budgets is now in high demand, especially short-form snackable content being made available for free and competing with the likes of YouTube. Many of these partnerships will help create cost-effective programs to fill the AVoD (ad-based video on demand) space,” said Barin Mukherjee, co-founder and CEO at Digital Refresh Network, a content solutions company.

At the same time, for a company like Saregama, holding a majority stake in Pocket Aces helps to target a high youth audience, resulting in effective use of media, Mukherjee said.

Although Saregama’s catalog consists mainly of old classic songs, this would be an attempt to make them contemporary and appealing to a younger audience. The company declined to comment on Mint’s questions; however, in an earlier statement, Avarna Jain, vice-chairman, Saregama, said the acquisition represents the confluence of tradition and innovation.

“While we have always been leaders in the music and media space, this partnership with Pocket Aces will add new dimensions to our business as we tap into the growing young digital audience,” said Jain.

Anuj Gandhi, media analyst and founder of media technology startup Plug and Play Entertainment, agreed that India’s young demographic age profile is driving those decisions. “Also, there has to be some difference (in strategy) when you’re competing with the spending of Amazon and Netflix. With many smaller players who may have hit the glass ceiling with subscribers, they bring in a loyal customer base,” Gandhi said.

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Updated: 02 November 2023, 12:07 AM IST

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