Sameer Nair Talks ‘Scam 1992’, Ads And Evolution Of The Indian Audience
Actor Pratik Gandhi portraying Harshad Mehta (right) in the Scam 1992 series produced by Sameer Nair, with director Hansal (left). (Source: Pratik Gandhi/ Twitter)

Sameer Nair Talks ‘Scam 1992’, Ads And Evolution Of The Indian Audience

As the pandemic forced people to withdraw indoors, Indians binged on movies and shows offered by streaming services providers. While this shift has been phenomenal for the likes of Netflix, Amazon, SonyLiv, and Hotstar, advertisers have been left in a bind, according to Sameer Nair.

The lockdown gave Indians another chance to get used to over-the-top platforms, the media veteran and current chief executive officer of Applause Entertainment told BloombergQuint’s Niraj Shah in an interview.

Nair was responsible for producing and launching ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati?’ with Amitabh Bachchan along with a number of daily soaps for Star. His latest production was ‘Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story’ streamed on SonyLiv.

Good content attracted bored Indians to streaming platforms over and above the trinity of Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hotstar, according to Nair. The older generation, he said, also found their way because they had the younger generation at home to help them get accustomed.

The shift to paid subscription also means consumers aren't viewing advertisements, he said. Companies, however, still need to reach consumers. “Close to a billion people (around the world) watch Netflix everyday and don’t come in contact with advertising.” Whatever little advertising that remains on OTT platforms comes with a ‘skip ad’ or ‘cross’ option, he said.

Other options like surrogate advertising are tricky.

"Aston martin used to always have their cars in the Bond movie. But it was still a bond movie. It was not an Aston Martin show reel," he said, pointing out that Aston Martin is also not a product for the masses.

“Saying Bond used to wash his clothes with surf is different.”

Evolution Of The Indian Audience

“To have great audiences you need great cinema, and to have great cinema you need great audiences,” Nair said, highlighting that Indian producers need to constantly create smarter content. Scam 1992 comes close to that description.

While all financial details were available in the book, the challenge was to narrate a story which was easy enough for people to understand but not “too dumb” to irk the financial audience. The fact that they could “name names” was an additional bonus. “Everyone loves a scandal.”

The success of the show, however, is telling of Indian audiences.

“Most of the time Indian creators don't make such stories because they believe the audience will not get it. But the audience got it," Nair said. "This is a matter of the success of the audience."

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