Asian animation studio Digitoonz has announced a licensing deal with Shemaroo, one of India’s leading media and entertainment players, for the animation series Atchoo! season two. It is an Italian-Indian animated television series produced by Studio Campedelli & Cartobaleno and co-produced by Digitoonz.
The new season of this series comprises 52 episodes of 11 minutes each. This partnership will enable Shemaroo to obtain distribution rights for the season two of the series.
“We have a very strong partnership with Shemaroo Entertainment, and we are very excited about this distribution deal,” said Digitoonz CEO Vikas Kumar.
“We are happy to partner with Digitoonz for Atchoo! S2. The series is entertaining as well as educational. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Digitoonz and bringing top quality content to our global viewers,” said Shemaroo Animation, Kids Digital, L&M senior vice president Smita Maroo.
The official synopsis reads: Atchoo! is an entertaining series about a little boy named Teo who has this unusual physical disorder. He sneezes whenever he is caught in an emotional situation and then he turns into an animal. And when Teo regains his consciousness, he continues to have some animalistic traits. The series aims to edutain children with a fun and unique learning experience while also instilling valuable life lessons.
The partnership with Shemaroo is a significant milestone for Digitoonz as it will allow the studio to expand its reach and provide high-quality animated content globally. The studio operates from three locations, including Noida (Delhi NCR), Kolkata, and Connecticut (USA). The studio comprises a team of 600 artists specialised in 2D-3D animation and VFX.
Cosmos-Maya has bolstered its leadership team with important hires, including Kaushal Nanavati as chief revenue officer and Asif Khan as business head of new projects (VFX, edtech).
Nanavati was serving as senior vice president of international and Indian digital business at Shemaroo. In the past, he has also collaborated with Disney and Zee.
Nanavati brings with him more than two decades of business development experience across linear channel distribution, content syndication, and app distribution. He is an executive leader with a consistent track record of fostering business expansion in international markets and boosting revenue growth in strategic positions in media and entertainment.
Khan re-joins Cosmos Maya after a successful entrepreneurial journey in the animation and advertising space. An industry veteran with close to 25 years of experience, Asif will lead the company’s foray into VFX and edtech as its business head. In his previous stints, he has also worked with FutureWorks Media Ltd. and Prime Focus.
The duo will work closely with Cosmos-Maya CEO Megha Tata towards the company’s next phase of growth.
Talking about the new appointments, Tata said, “We are delighted to welcome Nanavati and Khan to our senior leadership team. They bring years of experience and expertise in their respective fields, and the combined force of their vision will help Cosmos Maya reach new heights. We welcome them to the Cosmos Maya family, and I’m thrilled to work on new business opportunities together.”
Commenting on his appointment, Nanavati said, “I am excited to start this new chapter of my professional career with an animation giant like Cosmos Maya. I look forward to working closely with the senior leadership team to create a robust business path for the company in their new phase.”
Speaking on his new role, Khan said, “Cosmos Maya has always been at the forefront of the animation story in India. I am honoured to have the opportunity to lead its foray into VFX and edtech as its business head. It feels great coming back together under the same roof for the success of this new division. The company has always had a powerful ecosystem of talent and technology to deliver large-scale and quality projects. It is now the time to cement our position in the VFX space, and I look forward to being a part of the effort to make it reach new skies, as we had done earlier in the animation division.”
The Singapore-headquartered company was founded by world-renowned filmmakers Ketan and Deepa Mehta and is backed by NewQuest Capital Partners.
The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has announced the adoption of a comprehensive Implementation Toolkit (Tool Kit)which is in furtherance to the Universal Self-Regulation Code (Code) for Online Curated Content Providers (OCCP) that was put in motion on 4 September, 2020.
The core purpose of this Tool Kit is to provide for procedures to effectuate the various provisions of the Code; assist the signatories in fulfilling their commitments and responsibilities as set out in the Code; and to achieve effective self-regulation goals as envisioned by the signatories in the Code. Importantly, the effort of the Signatories, through this Tool Kit, is to also address feedback received from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting inter-alia, on the issues of conflict of interest and prohibited content.
The Code has been adopted by seventeen (17) leading Online Curated Content Providers in India. The present set of signatories include ZEE5, Viacom 18 (Voot), Disney+ Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, SonyLiv, MX Player, Jio Cinema, Eros Now, Alt Balaji, Arre, hoichoi, Hungama, Shemaroo, Discovery Plus, Aha and Lionsgate Play. The Tool Kit is effective from 10 February 2021.
The all-inclusive Implementation Toolkit will assist signatories in seamless transition to self-regulation and guide them on various dimensions like:
> Relevant laws of the land which will be adhered to by the signatories
> Fair and transparent functioning of the grievance redressal mechanism, with escalation to an Advisory Panel with independent members
> Training programs for creative and legal teams of OCCPs to enhance the knowledge and nuances of laws that govern content
> Awareness programs for consumers to help increase understanding and use of age rating, content descriptor & parental controls
> Implementation of a detailed audit and compliance mechanism
Commenting on this, IAMAI Digital Entertainment Committee chair Amit Goenka said,“The Universal Self-Regulation Code, which is signed by the Country’s top video streaming services marks a watershed moment in the history of the online streaming industry. Today, with the adoption of ‘Implementation Toolkit’, it further strengthens our (OCCPs) commitment to augment consumer empowerment and creative excellence for the Indian entertainment industry to grow multifold. This Tool Kit amplifies all the critical points that were addressed in the Code signed last year and aims to address feedback received from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, particularly on strengthening the grievance redressal mechanism. It further sets out clear tent poles that the OCCPs need to undertake to achieve a common goal of entertaining millions of Indians responsibly.”
Furthermore, IAMAI will constitute first of its kind ‘IAMAI Secretariat for the Code’ consisting of representatives of the signatories to the Code and IAMAI which will administer the implementation of the Code and the Toolkit. IAMAI aims to develop a process to seek periodic updates from the Signatories regarding their progress with respect to compliance with the provisions of the Code.
Mumbai Comic Con saw many new and veteran comic artists put up a grand show with their new comics or merchandise. Abhijeet Kini Studio’s latest comic titled Ek Din Ka Hero and Funtales of India which is co-published with KathaKids garnered a surprisingly large fan base.
While talking to AnimationXpress, Abhijeet Kini Studios founder Abhijeet Kini said, “We sold out all the copies of the comic we carried at Comic Con, Mumbai. I am overwhelmed. I want to give people more content to read and thus when something like Ek Din ka Hero is loved by all, it motivates me to make even better comics in the future.”
Ek Din Ka Hero is a short, slice-of-life comic. It is about a simpleton from a village who is conned to come to Mumbai. He thinks he is going to make it real big in Bollywood, but life has other plans. The protagonist is named Hira the Hero, who is an eternal optimist.
Another comic from Kini’s kitty was Funtales of India, which is a collection of classic Indian stories told through generations. It has been retold by Subba Rao, one of India’s foremost storytellers, who has helmed many children’s publications. Kini shared that the nostalgic aspect of Funtales of India really appealed to readers.
Mumbai Comic Con which was held on 7 and 8 December saw the launch of new issue of Age of Immortals by Holy Cow Publishing, comic books based on classic Bollywood movies by Shemaroo and many others.
“Mumbai Comic Con is always a fun event for us. We have a lot of our reader base, fans and repeat customers of our merchandise right here. Since we are Mumbaikars, it’s always great to be at the Comic Con in your own home-ground,” mentioned Kini.
The newly launched Mumbai Rhyme Fighters figurines from Abhijeet Kini Studios were a huge hit too.
2018 saw the OTT industry reach its pinnacle in the country. With the data revolution initiated by Reliance owned telco, Jio, in early 2016, and extensive sloshing down of the data rates, OTT has become mainstream now.
While the game has upped due to varied content and plethora of original content, distribution remains very crucial for every OTT player in this country; as that’s what makes them reach the masses, be watched, heard, and talked about.
With the rise of OTT content providers, telecom operators have got yet another opportunity to increase their revenues. Telcos themselves had to offer quality content to attract their increasingly video-obsessed customers.
Partnering with Telcos as a key distribution partner is because of their humongous reach with roughly 500 million internet users in the country. The number that is highly likely to grow multi-fold in the next few years and this additional user base is a big opportunity for both OTT players and Telcos to tap that pulse.
All of it started with Reliance Industries picking up a 25 per cent stake in Balaji Telefilms in late 2017, putting in place a content-sharing deal between Reliance Jio and ALTBalaji in early 2018. The partnership required ALTBalaji to make its original shows available on Jio Cinema and Jio TV, thus enabling free access of its content for Jio’s entire user base (160 million then, 280 million at present).
Indian OTT market has about 25 players. Telcos are offering different models in order to cater to the different needs for varied audience. Some offer regional content, some prefer devotional content, Live TV services and more. For instance, Reliance Jio TV has over 550 live TV channels, helping them increase their 4G subscriber base. Airtel TV app offers 300 LIVE TV channels, including 29 HD channels offering 6000 plus movies and regional shows.
In the recent OTTv Mumbai 2019 summit, GoQuest Media director Vivek Lath asserted, “The Telcos have given a very interesting model. Some look for ADs, some look for pay wall. So there are various models coming up for various needs.” Almost 82 per cent of revenue on OTT come from advertising and Telcos are the best platform for that.
ZEE5 India Business Development and Commercial head Manpreet Bumrah added on the similar line, “Gone are those days when people used to consume content only in the evening. Now, they’re consuming content while travelling, or during a snack break, tea break. Now the entire thing has given us a possibility to actually create lot many business engagements. Telcos and mobile phones are great enablers into this thing. Telcos do provide the widest reach. So, we’re offering overall subscription models – be it AVOD or SVOD to Telco audience. People are actually valuing content. And if there’s quality content, they’re paying for it.”
Shemaroo chief operating officer-digital Zubin Dubash, on the other hand focuses on three ‘C’s in mind, for smartly syndicating various content to different Telcos. They’re – Content, Customer Acquisition and Cost/Content Producers. According to him, “Smart syndication is where the audience knows the source of content. For an example – Shemaroo Me on Vodafone Play.”
Vodafone started driving its RED postpaid users with two months’ worth of free Netflix subscription and a year’s worth of Amazon Prime subscription for specific recharge amounts. The Vodafone Play app also houses content from Eros Now, ALTBalaji and HOOQ.
Airtel too collaborated with Amazon to offer one year’s Amazon Prime membership to all Airtel Infinity Postpaid users and rolled out a Netflix service for a limited period of three months to users with specific postpaid plans. It also signed a strategic partnership with Hotstar to give subscribers access to over 100,000 hours of Hotstar content across live sports, movies and television shows in nine languages on the Airtel TV app. Airtel also provide regional content, of Hoichoi TV.
With the demand of digital content reaching its peak, online video content is thriving and the current gold rush on the Indian market is expected to grow exponentially, as India is predicted to house 640 million internet users and 700 million smartphone users by 2020.
What can be a better news for the telcos and OTT platforms?
Shemaroo Entertainment is beefing up its leadership team and has announced three new senior hires across product, digital marketing and public relations.
Vaibhav Goyal has been appointed as general manager, head of products in new media & technologies, while Omprakash Singh joins as digital marketing lead and Ankita Anthony has been roped in as public relations Lead. The appointments are Mumbai-based and are expected to help drive the company’s growth in its new transitional phase.
Vaibhav Goyal who joins Shemaroo as head of products in new media and technologies has over 13 years of experience in media & entertainment and telecom. An alumnus of IIT Madras, he joins from Reliance Jio, where he was a senior product manager working on JioTV. In the past, he has worked with Hungama, Nokia and TCS on various technological products. At Shemaroo, he will lead the digital products development and strategy.
Omprakash Singh has 11 years of experience and joins from Law & Kenneth Saatchi & Saatchi, where he was the digital business head on Renault India. A bachelor in computer application, Singh also co-founded a creative digital start-up Tiki Tech and was part of it for over 5 years before he moved to Everymedia Technologies. At Shemaroo he will be heading all the digital marketing initiatives.
Ankita Anthony, who joins as the public relations lead has around 10 years of experience, specialising in communication strategy across media and entertainment. She joins from ZEE TV, where she was primarily responsible for designing and executing media strategies across fiction and non-fiction formats. A journalism graduate from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai she started her career as an assistant producer with CNBC TV18 and then went on to work with leading PR agencies like Edelman and Avian Media on brands such as MTV India, Comedy Central, Lakme Fashion Week and Diageo amongst others.
Commenting on the recent hires, Shemaroo Entertainment director Hiren Gada shares, “ It is an exciting time for us at Shemaroo and we are pleased to have Ankita, Om and Vaibhav on board. In line with our accelerated growth plans, we have hand-picked all the three experts from some of the best organisations in the media and entertainment space. We look forward to scale our brand and offerings with the new hires.”