19 October 2020 21:04



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Sunday, 18 October 2020 00:00

Vidya Narayanan, CEO & Co-Founder - Rizzle

1. After India’s ban on TikTok and other Chinese apps there has been a surge for a plethora of short video platforms. Your Thoughts?
Rizzle launched in a world where TikTok and other apps were very much present and made strong progress in India and in the US. While most other short video platforms have focused on song and dance and track-based recording alone, Rizzle developed its own unique identity. Rizzle has channels and episodic play which makes it very suitable for the nano vertical web series. A sui generis feature on Rizzle, RSeries help creators bring mini vertical series in comedy, drama, mystery, and other genres.

With or without the ban, Rizzle has been and will be a unique player. The reason being we have several options for creating great talk shows - with B-roll images and videos, sound effects, intro animations, and daily prompts, creators can make professional talk show content in minutes. Prompts - a compilation of all the trending topics that help newbies on the app get startred- bring the community together in discussions. Rizzle is a unique player in short videos.

2.What kind of content is popular on Rizzle? What are the top trending hashtags, topics, etc.?
Rizzle welcomes all types of content as long as its original. As much as we love a good video, we insist all our creators to stick to high-quality original 'made on Rizzle' content. It not only enables us to curate the best videos for the feed but also enhances the overall appeal of the app. Comedy bits and bite-sized clips tend to be appreciated and requested a tad bit more, but as long as the concept is true and real, Rizzlians will shower with you with love. Hashtags and topics are always pertinent to the current times, be it political, pop culture, news or trending shows. We have a dedicated team that creates relevant prompts for our users to make videos. This ensures freshness and crispness across all relevant boards and topics.

3.Throw some light on the user base and the demographic of Rizzle?
Our users, Rizzilians, as they like to call themselves come from various backgrounds; be it actors or filmmakers, YouTubers or creators, stand-up artists or vloggers, musicians or DJs, everyone and anyone can be a part of our tribe. Rizzle supplies an ecosystem of support and resources necessary for creators to build content; from in-app design tools to licensed music and sound effects, Rizzle has a lucrative end-to-end model within its app. We are focused squarely on original, user-generated episodic content -- which nobody else is doing in the area. Thus, Rizzle is a space that welcomes anyone and everyone. We appreciate a good piece of original content.

4.Rizzle recently launched the “RSeries Originals” and “R360 Originals”. How has been the response?
So far, the response that we’ve received from the users is amazing! They like the concept and have already spinned many original mini web series on the platform. R360 Originals focuses on all things news, opinions, pop culture, and more. In this series of theme-based contests, reports about everything you deem important and share your perspective on them. Bring news in its rawest form & capture the world around you!
On the other hand, RSeries Originals is more about bringing out your inner improv talents. Create a script, act, & direct your original brainchild series - and get paid for it.
We recently launched RStudios, a virtual workshop for acting and dance classes to help enrich talent and cultivate it to the next level. This move aims to set Rizzle a class apart from other short video apps by going one step further to equip the creators with an opportunity to learn and grow.

5.What are the safety features you have introduced within the app?
At Rizzle, data security has been our top-most priority and will always be. However, we believe that charity begins at home and so, we have refrained from 'Chats' & 'Comments' features since the inception. Our decision to completely do away with a comments section comes at a juncture when social media platforms across the world are grappling with issues of user safety, especially when it comes to female content creators. 'Comment' sections on social media apps have inadvertently become a playground for bullying creators.

We have a strong 3-Strike Policy that “quarantines” an account for 48 hours followed by a permanent ban if any user violates the terms and conditions, supports nudity, or posts harassing videos. Rizzle.tv keeps the keyboard warriors and trolls away, and is focused on building a positive community that listens, speaks, argues, debates, and supports.

6.What are your plans for monetization and brand partnerships in India?
Our complete focus is towards creating a flawless product for the end users. As of now, we are determined to build the best short video app for the content creators. We are definitely tapping some amazing brand associations that are mutually beneficial but monetization isn’t our priority as of now.

7.What is the USP of Rizzle and how do you plan to enhance the in-app user experience?

Rizzle is a playground for people who want to create a name for themselves. It’s a storehouse of original content and we at Rizzle, are constantly focusing on creating a user-friendly, smooth, and feature-rich app that’s a trend-setter in the field of creative content. Our amazing team of engineers and marketers put in their best brains to make Rizzle flawless.

8.In terms of business operations, how big is the Rizzle team here in India? Any plans to set up more offices in the country going forward?
We are a team of more than 100 people and growing each day. Our Engineering team is completely based out of India along with the majority of our Marketing team. We have a small team working from the US as well and we’re always on the lookout for fresh talent to join us and make Rizzle the next big thing.

How do you plan to differentiate Lionsgate Play from other international players like Netflix, Amazon, Apple or Disney?
Lionsgate Play is a bespoke service meant especially curated for premium and edgy content cinephiles. We have been keenly following the kind of shows that are lapped up by Indian audiences and have created a curated library that Indian audiences will love. We want to ensure our consumer gets captivated in the world of bespoke entertainment, Instantly so there is less browsing and more watching

Any plans to produce content Originals for the Indian market?
Yes, we are prepping to produce some edgy and gripping shows in India. We will share further information shortly

Can you elaborate on your partnership with Indian telcos and the reason behind entering the Indian market through this partnership?
Lionsgate Play launched last year on Vodafone play and in the short span of a year we have been able to partner with all major telcos in the country and showcase our content to their audiences. As of today we are present on Airtel, Idea, Vodafone and Jio FTHH. We are also present on large screen formats like Airtel Set top Box and Jio FTTH. The strategy was to leapfrog the distribution challenge by utilising the strength of Indian telco partners, understand audiences and then launch our own asset.

There is an increasing affinity in India to local languages? How do you intend to cater to this Indian audience?
We have observed that Indian audiences does enjoy content in regional languages. We have dubbed many of our films in various Indian languages to ensure deeper penetration and break the barrier of languages. Currently a large part of our catalogue is present in Hindi, Tamil, Telegu, Kannada and Bhojpuri. We have received phenomenal response for our dubbed content and we plan to extend our dubbed content library to more Indian languages.

Due to shifting focus towards OTT, do you think theatrical releases will come down in coming years?
I think the experience of enjoying a movie on the big screen will always remain special. It also allows you 3 hours of uninterrupted fun and takes you away to a different world. The entire experience is very fascinating so cinemas are here to stay. What could happen is recalibration of the kind of movies that see a cinema release. The movies which don’t see a big release distribution wise might choose to go direct to OTT. While business models and scenario building on movie business will become more dynamic surely, however the importance of each medium will remain intact.

The goal of combining Lionsgate and Starz was to build a premium global subscription platform ? How has the strategy worked for you?
Globally both are giants in their own spaces. The OTT space is very hot as more and more consumers opt for it so it was a natural progression for Lionsgate to be in the streaming business. I would say it has worked really well for the organisation as we are already present in about 50 countries as of today and will continue to bring cult content to our users preferred screens, so be it at the cinema theatres or the mobile phones, we will provide premium content as per the demand and preferences of our consumers.

How big is India in your scheme of things at the moment?
We are committed to build a sustainable business in India. It’s a huge growth driver by the sheer number of people who want to watch content and are even ready to pay for it. We are adapting very fast, be it introducing content in Indian languages, launching originals or bringing the best of Hollywood films to India. We want to make sure we deliver best of premium content to our Indian audiences.

Could you share your marketing plan or mix for the Indian market?
We want to build a meaningful brand in India. We will explore mass media like outdoors, print as big announcers and also use social and digital media to drive frequency. We will follow the consumer in his decision making journey and touch base with him at different touch points to introduce a new show, movie or remind him about us.


According to a Brand Finance report, Covid-19 may cost 100 most valuable Indian firms a staggering $25 billion in terms of brand value. These are trying times. As people go into all-out protection mode, a dreaded sense of collective anticipation hangs over our everyday lives. Keeping socio-physically away from others and diligently following personal hygiene practices are even precipitating irreversible and lasting behavioural changes. Add to it the economic and income uncertainties and the psycho-emotional baggage that comes with them.

In such times of crisis, how do brands evolve their communication strategies to stay relevant and connected with their customers?

Reliability a top virtue

In a crisis, reliability and dependability are perhaps the top attributes that customers would expect in a brand. Brands must not only ensure that even in the face of crisis, they are there for their customers but must also communicate this message in time. Making consumers know that you are going all out to fulfil their needs and ensure their convenience at a time when they need you the most will certainly leave a lasting impression on their minds. Here both agility as well as brevity of response is important. When online grocery delivery service Grofers reassured customers through “Not to worry, we will still be key to your essentials,” it was an exemplary and reassuring communication at a time of crisis.

Make humanity quotient your differentiating factor

Instead of hard selling your product and brand through ultra-creative and loud advertising while giving that aggressive ‘buy-now’ call to action in times of crisis, your brand should radiate humanity and empathy. Through more sobering portrayals and actions, you should convey that you identify and relate to the ‘emotional disruption’ that people are going through and you are standing with them in this hour of need. The path ahead is to humanise your brand. Equally significant is that your altruistic action should not sound opportunistic at all. That you are taking responsibility in a time of need should shine through. After all, responsible brands mean responsible citizenry. For instance, when a leading hygiene brand while explaining how to fight the virus had exhorted users to use any soap they have access to and had even named competitor brands, it was responsible public service gone beyond individual branding. There are also several examples of brands pitching in to provide supplies and equipment meant for Covid fighters as well as patients. A popular biscuit brand had announced the donation of one crore packets every week during one phase of the lockdown.

Amplify brand integrity: principles above profits

While profit-making is a reasonable goal of companies, in extraordinary circumstances, the brand’s moral compass must show the way and not allow it to be driven towards blind pursuit of sales and profits. At a time when businesses and brands themselves are strenuously trying to remain feasible, it is not an easy task. However, in the long run it could yield a bigger pay-off than the short-term costs involved now. For instance, that Tatas and Wipro have not laid off a single employee during the Covid crisis adds infinitely to their already huge brand appeal. Or Google rolling out advanced Hangouts Meet for free to help businesses and schools during Covid times would have earned tonnes of goodwill for the technology giant.

Pivot to authentic & context-relevant messaging & product

At the same time, brands also have to show that they are acutely aware of the enormity of the crisis and clued into the state of affairs on the ground. Accordingly, they have to tailor their messaging with a view to project and place them as a solution within the context of the ongoing crisis. For instance, when QSR brand Pizza Hut adjusted its logo to Pizza Home instead of Hut, it was with an eye on conveying the ‘stay at home’ message. Similarly, when Fevicol came with the tagline ‘Ab sabse mazboot door – Indoor,’ it was to prod people into staying indoors. This tweaking adds to the authenticity of the messaging and the brand. Similarly, just as they alter the messaging, brands have to be ready to overhaul their production lines to manufacture new types of products necessitated out of the crisis. For instance, while several automobile companies switched to manufacturing ventilator and other equipment, many alcohol and personal care firms migrated to producing hand sanitizers and other related products. This brand resilience further connects them with their end-customers.

Adopt omnichannel tracking as well as engagement systems

With the whole family cooped up indoors, online, social media and OTT platforms would have been the ideal place to track as well as engage with customer conversations among the younger generations. However, the good-old television would still be the first choice of older generation customers. This requires for the brand to adopt an omnichannel customer tracking/engagement strategy which can take care of digital as well as traditional mediums of communication and sharing. Making good use of data analytics is crucial in this regard. While engaging, remember messages have to be very carefully designed and placed because in this age of instant social media and user generated-content, any slip-up can come back to haunt and hurt the brand for a long time in the future. This also implies that brands should communicate with customers more frequently providing regular updates on their positioning and offerings eliminating any scope for miscommunication or gap in communication.

So, standing up for a cause becomes as important as standing out for your brand during a crisis. In essence, spreading positivity while ‘walking the talk’ constitutes effective communication during a crisis. If you do it successfully through the crisis, it helps you build lasting brand equity.


Written by Ms Nikky Gupta, Co-founder & Director Teamwork Communications Group

Monday, 03 August 2020 00:00

Abraham Thomas, CEO, RBNL (BIG FM)

MediAvataar: Radio has become the new ‘comfort companion’ and a trusted source of information during the Covid-19 pandemic for its listeners. Your thoughts on this?

Abe: Radio has been reimagined in the minds of listeners, particularly in the last few months, as it has become the most trusted medium for audiences across the country. As we all grappled with the effects of the pandemic, radio helped listeners wade through the slew of unratified fake news and sensationalism that followed. Listeners were depending on the RJs to keep them informed, entertained, calm and motivated in these times thus becoming their ‘comfort companion’. As the strength of radio was re-established, advertisers too took note of the same. This has been reflected in the growing listenership and the corresponding rise in advertising.

As per the recent RAM report, women listenership both in reach and time spent has grown in the 4 metros, which has led to substantial growth in advertising volumes of cosmetics, hair products, detergents and appliances as corroborated by Adex. Male listenership too has increased significantly in the 4 metros resulting in consequent high growth in advertising targeted to men across various categories such as professional and financial services, retail auto, restaurants, etc. The recent TAM data also reveals a growth in advertising on radio due to increase in listenership in Sec A segment with categories like general insurance, anywhere banking, E-com auto rental services, cosmetic range and kitchen chimneys witnessing remarkable growth.

These resounding numbers reiterate how radio has grown exponentially and is the most reliable free-to-air medium, loved by the masses.

MediAvataar: How has the radio industry changed and adapted to the ‘new normal’?

Abe: Keeping the current situation and its challenges in mind, the entire radio industry is exploring various avenues and opportunities to reach out to its audience in ways they can best relate to. This has seen us curate offerings keeping in mind the renewed consumer expectations and their demands. The synergy of Radio and Digital is the new normal today. This has led leading radio networks to be more platform-agnostic as they curate content via various touch-points such as online concerts, Instagram gigs, RJ’s from different stations collaborating on content, and so on. There is already a lot of experiential content being rolled-out that will only get better with technological advancements. With fine margins deciding who leads and who follows, it is necessary to innovate and stay ahead of the game.

MediAvataar: COVID-19 has thrown major challenges. How are you re-attracting listeners to your radio station and finding new sources of revenue?

Abe: At BIG FM, we have always believed in curating content and properties that are innovative and thought-provoking. Keeping in line with our philosophy, we initiated various campaigns during the lockdown such as ‘Dilli Ke Dhaakad....Kehte Hai – Let’s Fight Corona Together’, ‘Dekh Kahin Yeh Fake Toh Nahi’ and V the Warriors amongst others to eliminate fear and spread positivity.

Since Radio plus digital is the future, our focus is on adding incremental reach through multiple touch points. So we are adding digital audio, podcasts and web radio to our offering. We have been creating a large volume of timeless non-music content which can be consumed as podcasts on audio streaming platforms, expanding the reach of our powerful content IP’s. With our property Big Café Online, listeners can enjoy a concert every day from the comforts of their homes just by tuning in to BIG FM. Through our initiative Big Small Shots, we are providing clients customized IPs that addresses a specific and immediate objective. We are also looking at taking a step further by making the concept of storytelling more hyper local and relevant to regional language market in order to convey various brand and product messages through weekly storytelling.

MediAvataar: BIG FM recently launched BuyadsonBIGFM.com. What was the idea behind the platform?

Abe: Our offering Buyadsonbigfm.com is a one stop destination for the long tail of advertisers to create solutions, create packages, buy spots and make payment at the mere click of a button. It features a dashboard for ad rates, invoices, broadcast certificates, etc. allowing advertisers to access a host of options instantly. With a host of challenges staring at us in the face, this is our way of staying ahead of the curve by adopting innovative solutions for operations to run seamlessly. By helping our advertisers to conveniently book ads, the platform plays a crucial role in fostering long-lasting alliances with them.

MediAvataar: How is Big FM tackling competition from online music streaming services?

Abe: We firmly believe that radio and the audio streaming platforms complement each other very well. Their rising popularity coupled with the trends in the growth of non-music content, makes this an attractive avenue for growing one’s listenership. With the world becoming more digitized and the disappearance of geographical barriers, the opportunities for distribution of audio content to global audiences are growing. We aim to leverage and globalize our IPs by making it accessible to a large group of new audiences. Being pioneers in the storytelling format of timeless shows like Suhana Safar with Annu Kapoor and Yaadon Ka Idiot Box with Neelesh Misra, makes us an attractive partner for platforms like Spotify to offer our content for their listeners.

MediAvataar: BIG FM collaborated with Spotify recently for content partnership? How is the strategy working?

Abe: Through this collaboration with Spotify, their users have access to more than 15,000 minutes of BIG FM’s content spread across 13 marquee shows and 1,240 episodes. This includes shows like Suhana Safar with Annu Kapoor, Yaadon Ka Idiot Box with Neelesh Misra, Actor Calling Actor and Once Upon A Time in Bollywood, that have had a loyal fan base for years and are now easily accessible to listeners, old as well as new at their fingertips. We wanted to explore the on-demand content medium for our marquee properties and are proud to have taken this step in our digital transformation journey with a major audio-streaming platform like Spotify that shares the same purpose and ethos as us.

MediAvataar: What are the major trends that will shape the future of the radio industry in India?

Abe: As digitization is the way forward, the big shift that we see is how radio is embracing digital to create multiple touch-points to engage its listeners. Understanding the importance of becoming a digital first organization, we at BIG FM recently forayed in the space of web radio with the launch of BRO - BIG Radio Online that serves as the perfect platform for the youth who seek content that is entertaining as well as thought-provoking. Through BRO, we wish to provide our listeners an immersive audio experience through podcast content coupled with music. Other formats like digital concerts are also gaining immense popularity and our property Big Café Online is a great example of it. Our very first digital concert, hosted in Gujarat, which featured seven artists over the course of seven days, went on to rake in 1 million + organic views, 1 million + reach and an engagement of over a lakh.

While embracing technology is the need of the hour, the radio industry needs to be attentive and adapt itself to the changing nature of choices that the consumers are making.

MediAvataar: A major issue for radio has been figuring out how to integrate digital and turn it into a revenue generator. Are stations still struggling with how to do it?

Abe: The ongoing pandemic has played the role of a catalyst towards making leading radio networks embark on a journey of digital transformation. At Big FM, we continue to be more agile and resilient by adopting digital led solutions. From creating multiple touch-points to reaching out to our audiences and communicating with them in a manner they relate to the best, to adopting remote work from home model across each of our 58 stations across the country, we are moulding ourselves with the changing times.
Through our initiative Big Partnerships, we have signed up more than 20 associations which include audio streaming apps, digital platforms, OTT platforms amongst others where clients can reach out to a potential audience of 15 crores. The recent launch of BRO and our association with Spotify are in line with our vision of bringing about a successful confluence of radio and digital.

Ready to take a break from your everyday routine and get transported into the world of drama, action and entertainment? Well, you’re in luck because &pictures is bringing to your television screens two films that promise to help you bid adieu to a boring weekend in perfect movie style! On 25th July, the channel premieres Thappad, a film that will get you to retrospect the true meaning of love and respect, and on 26th July, get transported into the thrilling world of cops, action and car chases with Bad Boys for Life.

Questioning ‘Bina Respect Kya Hai Pyaar’, director Anubhav Sinha’s Thappad is a journey of Amrita, a talented, educated and a loving housewife who was happy with her life being surrounded with her family and husband’s priorities until the day her husband slaps her in front of a crowd. Amrita’s perfect relationship is shattered, and she was reminded of all the times she downplayed her role as an equal partner in the relationship and questioned all that her marriage stood for. This heart-warming and striking film stars Taapsee Pannu, Pavail Gulati, Dia Mirza, Ratna Pathak Shah, Tanvi Azmi, Maya Sarao, and Kumud Mishra in pivotal roles. Witness the most significant movie of the year on Saturday, 25th July at 8pm.

Taapsee Pannu shares her experience and says, “Working on Thappad has been an overwhelming experience for me. The movie sheds light upon a crucial issue that I always wanted to personally address. I feel any kind of violence can change a person completely either making you withdraw into a cocoon or emerge stronger and It’s the same with Amrita’s character. Getting into Amrita’s skin was quite a challenge and it got me claustrophobic. My impulsive mindset took time to attune to Amrita’s calm worldview. But, her righteousness, her maturity to handle every situation, and an infectious calmness on the outside made me grow as a person and made me look at things differently. Thappad gives voice to a topic that has been hushed for years now; with the &pictures premiere, we are hoping to bring notice, open conversations, help people identify and not accept those minor verbal ‘Thappads’ thrown their way.”

Elaborating on the experience of making Thappad, Anubhav Sinha said, “Thappad has been a challenging experience for me and It’s something that I am immensely proud of. The movie tackles plethora of issues in our society that have unfortunately been normalized. A whole lot of us indulge in gaslighting without realizing it. And, in order to correct our behaviour, we need to first know that it is incorrect. We have worked hard to encapsulate the right messaging and emotion throughout our film; it is important, now more than ever for the film and what it stands for, to reach as many people as possible. The response so far has been phenomenal. I am grateful to be a part of an era where storytelling as well as audiences, are evolved enough to embrace such movies that are against the tide.”

On 26th July at 1pm, sink your teeth into yet another blockbuster with Bad Boys for Life that chronicles the shenanigans of a zabardast cop Jodi. Comedy, larger than life action, adrenaline thumping car chases, and a drug mafia – the film has all the entertainment elements. Starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, the movie follows the encounters of detectives Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett who team up for one last ride as they go up against the vicious leader of a Miami drug cartel.

Drama ho ya action, Sabka Ek Hi Weekend Destination and we’ve given you enough reason to tune in. So this weekend, don’t miss watching these two blockbusters only on &pictures!

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