Like Zee, media and entertainment companies may have to reinvent themselves

The media and entertainment business in India is slated for a huge churn if media baron Subhash Chandra’s decision to rope in a global strategic partner in Zee Entertainment is anything to go by. Subhash Chandra’s family, which holds 41.62 per cent stake in Zee Entertainment through Essel, has described the move as part of a strategy to evolve the group as a media and technology driven enterprise. Interestingly enough, Chandra’s decision comes after running Zee Entertainment for 25 years. What makes the decision significant is the fact that the remaining 50 per cent of promoters’ shares has already been pledged.

For the time being, Chandra’s move opens up a big opportunity for India’s entertainment business that is valued at over $22 billion with annual growth of over 10 per cent and expected to touch $35 billion in 2022. Technology and digital savvy enterprises like Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Netflix and Amazon could find huge opportunity in Zee business. It makes good business sense for telecom majors to find synergy with platforms providing entertainment. Even larger global media and entertainment houses like Warner Brothers may find value in Zee’s offer for a strategic foothold in its library of 4,000 movies, over three dozen global and national channels that have ruled the roost in several urban and semi-urban markets. The big opportunity in technology-based immersive entertainment business that is fast becoming the new norm internationally may have triggered Zee promoters’ decision to stay up the curve.

Most media and entertainment companies may have to reinvent themselves to stay afloat and make profits. The Internet of Things (IOT), artificial intelligence and 3D printing technology may finally dictate what is in store for the global media and entertainment sector. Already, several US-based newspapers and magazines like Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post have either been put up for sale or changed hands with entrepreneurs from emerging markets including Russia, Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia making a beeline for prized brands. It may not be long before other established players make way for new age technology entrepreneurs scouting for news content and entertainment.

The likes of Jeff Bezos from Amazon have already emerged big players in the entertainment market. Billionaires like Brian Roberts and John Malone came along to become big time players. The days of traditional media industry seem to be over and they need to reinvent themselves with spread of both mobile and cloud-based technologies. India cannot escape from this fusion of media, entertainment, movies, animation with technology platforms. It throws up the prospect of Bharti’s Sunil Bharti Mittal, Reliance Jio’s Mukesh Ambani and Idea’s Kumar Mangalam Birla emerging as the new stars of the Indian media and entertainment business.

Several top-notch players have to either follow suit or extend themselves into virtual space. With the Indian film industry across languages valued at over $50 billion, multiplexes and single screen houses will have to slowly give way to virtual theatres. Movie going and entertainment are bound to undergo a sea change with about 800 million phone users in India. News reporting, content creation, aggregation and distribution have acquired new heft with the advent of technologies in cost conscious Indian market and digital media boom. Films and entertainment sectors have already made a decisive push in the direction.