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From the east end

Aggregating Indian films and soaps is big biz in the West. Consultancy firm Ernst & Young (E&Y), in a report estimates the value of Indian content sold outside the country—films and television content—at over $200 million

Print Edition: June 1, 2008

If you thought it’s only housewives in the country (along with some helpless husbands) who are glued to soaps like Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, that may not quite indicate fidelity to the truth.

Inside GloboSat: The company distributes channels like Sahara One & UTV Movies
The firm distributes channels
Consultancy firm Ernst & Young (E&Y), in a report titled Indian Content on the Move, estimates the value of Indian content sold outside the country—films and television content—at over $200 million (Rs 800 crore). The audience is doubtless of Indian origin— comprising largely of the global community of non-resident Indians —but it’s huge and spread all over the world, with most of them concentrated in the US and the UK. And as India becomes the flavour of the globe—economically and culturally —this demand for domestic content is expected to grow at over 20 per cent annually, says E&Y.

That’s a huge opportunity for ethnic content aggregators, and one such firm run by three South Asian entrepreneurs is the New York-headquartered GloboSat Entertainment. This $9 million (in revenues) firm specialises in aggregating and distributing ethnic content to the US, Canada, the UK and Europe. Says Adris Chakraborty, Director, GloboSat: “Zee, Sony and STAR TV are the only established Indian channels in the US and the UK. Most new channels that have launched in India in the last few years and more recently are seeking to tap the NRI audience given the potential this market holds. Setting up on their own and distributing in this market would be difficult.” The company currently distributes Sahara’s channels namely Sahara One, Sahara Filmy and Sahara Samay in the US, Canada, UK and Europe. More recently it signed on UTV Movies and Bag Films’ N24 (a news channel) and E24 (general entertainment). GloboSat also distributes Bangladeshi channels NTV and RTV, Caribvision (a Caribbean channel) and Ravi, an Urdu channel from Pakistan.

GloboSat’s 60,000 square infrastructure facility in New York includes editing suites, broadcast facility, five studios and provides a full spectrum of services in broadcasting, channel playout services, time delay, ad insertions, conversions, marketing, and ad sales, as well as a call centre for its channel partners.

Shubho Basu Nag, Chief Consultant, GloboSat India, explains the procedure of distribution. “We get the feeds from these channels on a daily basis. We break the half-hour episodes into segments, edit out the Indian ads and fit in the US and UK-relevant ads.The same content that plays in India plays in these markets, except that there is a time delay of about two days.”

GloboSat’s partners in the US and Canada include DirecTV, Dish, Rogers, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and BSkyB in the UK. Says GloboSat President & CEO Sudhir Vaishnav: “Our strategic partnerships with DTH, cable, broadband, IPTV, mobile and other platforms spanning across North and South America, Europe and the UK help our broadcast partners to build international presence faster.”

According to Chakraborty, the overall ethnic content market across the US, the UK and Europe is estimated to be worth $6-7 billion (Rs 2,400-2,800 crore). Of this, the US is estimated to account for nearly 70 per cent and the balance is accounted for by the UK and Europe. Subhash Singh, Head of Advertising Sales at GloboSat Entertainment, pegs the ad sales market for ethnic channels in the US at $16 million (Rs 64 crore). “By 2010, the market is expected to be $30 million (Rs 120 crore),” he ventures. Some 40 per cent of the advertising in the US comes from American corporations and the rest from local India-centric products and services such as calling cards, real estate companies, grocery stores and the likes who are targeting the South Asian community.

Anusha Subramanian

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