Branded content hampers consumer experience, says Sameer Saxena of TVF

Sharing insights into the content plans for 2020, Saxena, CCO and head, TVF Originals, tells that the platform hopes to launch more than 20 originals next year, with the first one in February. He also reveals TVF's plans to produce original regional content

Akanksha Nagar
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Sameer Saxena

The Viral Fever (TVF) Originals has been in the content game for years now, pouring out the best of the web series and shows. But as new players enter the digital entertainment industry and are ready to work at a cheaper cost, it would be interesting to see how well TVF takes on competition and stands out.

In an interaction with BuzzInContent, Sameer Saxena, Chief Creative Officer and Head, TVF Originals, shares the platform’s focus areas in 2020.

2019 saw a lot of content sharing between content platforms. Would it be right to say that 2020 will witness more such collaborations and does it hint towards consolidation in the future?

Saxena answered by saying, “Yes, there is a possibility that some consolidation might happen. But I guess it's only for better as we have key focused players in the market. It also helps the audience to have a clear understanding of what they will want to consume, rather than having those hundreds and thousands of options and then getting lost in the content.”

Expanding the content platform’s focus further into the horizon of branded content, Saxena believes branded content will go big in the next year.

“Everyone wants to be on the digital. Pretty much all the brands have understood that. What new kinds of collaborations happen in the future with brands is unknown yet,” he said.  

Saxena believes that branded content hampers a consumer’s content consumption experience. So it is high time for brands to learn to do brand integration intelligently and not spoil the viewing experience.

Saxena said the platform had always believed and established itself on the very primary and simple root of experimenting. “We strongly believe that we should always continue to try different things. That's something that we will focus on next year as well,” he said.

The platform plans to enter a variety of genres. Thriller, horror and drama would be something new it would experiment with. Apart from expanding the traditional genres, it plans to do regional content. In 2019, it did regional content, but those were the dubbed versions of its previous shows. Now, it will focus on creating original shows in regional languages.

It has around 15-20 originals for 2020 in the pipeline. “That's a ballpark figure that we have in mind. Hopefully, it will do more than that,” he said.

Having produced famous branded series such as Pitchers, Permanent Roommates and Kota Factory, and the very recent Cubicles, in terms of new offerings or strategies for the brands, Saxena said that there wouldn’t be any new strategy while working with the brands in future. But it definitely hopes to have more brands on board in coming years.

He added, “We just want to continue giving phenomenal returns and values that we have been giving so far to the brands that have worked with us. We just want to continue doing that because that's the only way more and more brands are going to come and work with us. We will have more brands coming to us in future.”

Having started the year with a bang with the web series ImMature on MX Player, he said it was one of the biggest IPs that the platform has created in the year. Others include Gullak on Sony Liv, Kota Factory on YouTube, CheeseCake on MX Player, Cubicle on YouTube and Hostel Daze on Amazon Originals.

The platform has created around seven to eight new IPs this year in the long format and will be creating a lot more in the next year. Then there will be follow-up seasons of existing IPs. It plans to launch its first new original show/series in February next year.

TVF has about 50 in house writers/ directors, probably the highest in the industry. It has about four channel-teams that mostly work for brands and a certain number of people who work on originals.

He said new content creators trying to make a mark in the industry should always be unique in whatever they create. “There is so much content out there. If your content is similar to what someone else is doing, there is a good chance you will get lost. You must have your voice; you have a uniqueness in whatever you're doing. And as long as that's something original, people will accept it.”

The debate around short-term/long-format content and screen size has not yet found any closure and Saxena foresees that the screen size may actually go smaller next year. There might be more consumption on mobile than on TV or computer, but it will still be a mix of people consuming long-format and short-format content, he said.  

TVF Sameer Saxena