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Telling stories in an authentic manner has become a little difficult, says Sudhanshu Vats

Vats was in conversation with Anant Goenka, Executive Director, Indian Express, in a session titled ‘Looking back as we move ahead’ on Day 1 of FICCI Frames 2019

Anant Goenka and Sudhanshu Vats

Because the TV model is ad-driven, telling stories in an authentic manner has become a little difficult as compared to the past as it is driven by ratings, feels Viacom18 Group CEO and MD Sudhanshu Vats.

“While playing with the original story, many a time the industry is taking away from the story. Importance must be given here and that the focus must be on the ability to tell stories that will eventually sell rather than looking at only selling the stories,” Vats said.

Vats was in conversation with Anant Goenka, Executive Director, Indian Express, on Day 1 of FICCI Frames 2019, in a session titled ‘Looking back as we move ahead’.

Vats began by stating that a lot had changed in the industry for the better. He went on to state that, from the content space, the first thing that had changed, irrespective of the platforms, was that the industry had moved away from broadcast to microcast online. The industry moved from beaming things to having more conversations, making things more interactive.

According to him, the second most important change led by technology is that it isn’t necessary to tell stories to everybody but rather successfully tell them to a limited number of people. 2018 has seen films such as Andhadhun and Badhai Ho target a certain audience. Though they were not blockbusters, these films performed exceedingly well.

The third and most interesting thing he pointed to were the changes and differences between the curator, creator and consumer. It used to be much simple to differentiate between these three in the past but today, the lines have completely blurred. And this is also followed by audiences across, where audiences have also become content curators.

While reiterating the fact that the industry is experiencing many important changes, he said a welcoming change is the narration of diverse stories in a classical content sense.

Speaking about ‘formula’ as a safety net, Vats believes that formula works as a safety net at some level. With minds being patterned in a particular format, and sometimes from the commercial point of view, one must believe in intuition. With reference to the western world, he added that the media industry in the West followed a pattern format, leading to success.

Vats believes there will be a lot of custom use in the story and segmentation in the audience. According to him, there will be a set of audience that will love and there will be one that won’t. But in the future, it won’t matter as every story can reach its audience and every audience their story.

The session ended on the note that the future can be rafted only from lessons learnt in the past. The media industry is in interesting times today, as it witnesses a disruptive process of embracing change to redefine itself for the future.


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