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Our focus is device-agnostic content: Sony Pictures Network's Uday Sodhi

The idea for SonyLiv is to go local and not just repurpose international content, Uday Sodhi tells Ritwik Sharma

Ritwik Sharma 

Uday Sodhi, Executive vice-president  & head, digital business, Sony Pictures Network
Uday Sodhi, Executive vice-president & head, digital business, Sony Pictures Network

Having completed five years, what are the learnings for SonyLiv in terms of content, monetisation and user behaviour? These five years have been very challenging and exciting for us. SonyLiv has been a pioneer in this business, and we literally built the OTT ecosystem from scratch. With penetration in India increasing after 3G and 4G, we realised it could be a great entertainment device in the hands of consumers. It has played out exactly as we thought. We now have 300 million people carrying Internet-connected smartphones in their pockets, 200 million of them are 4G-connected, and in the last 24 months the ecosystem has lit up. Early on we saw the opportunity for catch-up television content and realised that would be a huge driver for consumption. We also realised live sports would be a large category, and we were one of the first to stream the World Cup back in 2014. Today we have a 360-degree entertainment platform. Our tagline is “We live to entertain”, and we believe in that. We offer TV shows, originals, movies and a plethora of sporting events. So how consumers are adopting video, how to deliver quality products, the technology behind and streaming within the Indian mobile ecosystem, and adapting for all, these have been great learnings for us. We believe in the ad-funded model in the initial phase and we think this will slowly start moving to a subscription model. So, from consumer behaviour, technology, monetisation to forms of content, it has been a great journey for us. Are you focused on the category of sports, especially cricket, to grow viewership? Sports is a great category for us and we are probably one of the largest sports in this part of the world. We do almost 3,000-4,000 live games every year. We are running hundreds of matches every month.

We have rights to several cricket boards, so a lot of international rights on cricket are available with SonyLiv. We are also a very large player in football. is also available on SonyLiv and we do a lot of surround programming on it. How do you distinguish SonyLiv among the digital of media firms? Sports is one of our big differentiators, and in sports also we don’t look at cricket alone. We have depth in a few categories and are able to create categories in digital—we’ve been pioneers in the short film category and built probably the most amazing short film catalog on any OTT platform, we are pioneers in food and fitness among all OTT players. So besides the standard fare of films and shows, we believe in 360-degree entertainment. So besides content, in terms of perspective too we are differentiated because we are available on all devices including connected TVs, Fire, Apple TV, Chromecast etc. When we look at digital like and Amazon, original content including localised material is a growing focus. What is your take on content? All the content made for television is original. Most other platforms also show TV shows. Because we are a local platform and our strength is local TV content is a huge draw for us. We are also creating a lot of content for digital only, which we call digital first or digital original. You will find about 65-70 original shows on SonyLiv which are available across five to seven languages. The idea is to go local, offer audiences what they want and not just repurpose international content. We have more than 20 years of experience in entertaining audiences in India. We think we can do that on a different screen now. What kind of opportunities do you see in terms of growing viewership? We are seeing significant viewership growth and traction across India. We will continue to invest in regional content, sporting events for digital audiences and improving our technology so that both low-end phones and high-end television sets are able to get the best quality product. That’s our endeavour.

First Published: Sun, February 11 2018. 22:32 IST
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