YouTube’s phenomenal success story not only gave impetus to ‘new media’ (or the ‘third media’), but also helped many ancillary industries spring up, most significantly -- multi-channel networks (MCNs). In India, MCNs have witnessed a considerable growth as digital consumption rising every year with a significant rise of 30 percent in viewership (better than other media outlets like print, TV, Out of Home and radio).
One such startup in digital content creation space is Mumbai-based Click Digital Studio (CDS) which has a portfolio of 70 channels and 1.5 million subscribers base. The platform’s repertoire of channels consists of varied genres such as music, Bollywood and Hollywood gossip, kids content, food, fitness, technology, devotional music among many others.
“The content for each of these channels is produced in-house. Together, the 70 channels generate three million views daily and 100 million views monthly. Our portfolio has generated 1.5 billion views so far,” says Anand Doshi, Chief Creative Officer, CDS.
One of the network’s flagship YouTube channel, Shudh Desi Endings, is a two-year-old channel which specializes in making animated spoofs on current trends (especially Bollywood flicks). The channel has 200,000 subscribers and approximately seven million views on a monthly basis.
“Hitherto the genre of animated spoofs on current trends has been dominated by Shudh Desi Endings. In recent times several conventional content creators have realized the potential of this rapidly growing medium and are coming up with fresh concepts. This will boost digital content creation and audience viewership further benefitting all of us,” adds Ananad.
With a Bachelors degree from Deakin University, Australia, and degree in editing from Whistling Woods Institute, Anand had inkling towards content production since his teens. While studying in Australia, he edited several international films and TV shows.
He later moved to India and joined Reliance Entertainment. After having worked in a corporate set up for a few years, the entrepreneurship bug bit him and he ventured out to float two production companies in partnership with two friends.
Click Digital Studios manages end-to-end production of shows for several channels on YouTube. It also produces a Gujarati standup comedy show ‘Hirjee Ni Marjee’ for Viacom 18’s ETV Gujarati that is currently running successfully on-air. Monopoly Pictures has produced a Gujarati film ‘Happy Family Pvt. Ltd’ (2013).
Revenue model and challenges in the space
“Revenue model is quite simple and straight forward - one stream is that of revenue share with YouTube and second one is sponsorship. Over the past one year more companies are now turning towards YouTube and other digital platforms for their brand communication because this is the youth’s preference content consumption,” adds Anand.
Animation is time consuming and the most expensive process of content production. Additionally, animation is generally associated with kids only, so it becomes challenging to reach out to a wider audience base.
“With more YouTube channels fleshing out fresh ideas and concepts, it’s helping us expand the digital content space, which is important for all content creators currently. All YouTube channels are all working collectively in one direction, and not as competitors,” points out Anand.
Road ahead and outlook of MCNs in India
At present, the studio currently has a team of 35 people, including 15 animators. “We are in the process of launching 12 new channels and out of these four will involve animated content. We are in the process of expanding the team and are currently looking out for like-minded creative people,” outlines Anand.
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The rapid growth in daily unique visitors has led to the formation of MCN. But the culture of outsourcing doesn't exist in India yet. “We believe that this model will have to be changed. Talent and companies will have to co-invest creatively and financially towards long term collaboration of content creation, only then this model is going to work beneficially for all parties concerned,” concludes Anand.