ATF Perspectives: Banijay Rights’ Rashmi Bajpai


In the first of a series of distributor Q&As ahead of Asia TV Forum, Rashmi Bajpai, executive VP for Asia at Banijay Rights, talks to World Screen about the company’s thriving business across formats and tape sales in the region.

WS: What’s driving Banijay Rights’ content licensing business in Asia? Is it formats or tape sales?
BAJPAI: If you include India, then the answer is formats. There has been a significant shift in programming and acquisitions with greater emphasis on local content. Our formats have been successfully adapted in every major territory because our catalog offers scalability and innovation. With over 5,000 formats, we have content to suit different cultures, budgets and tastes. Super-brands like Big Brother, Fear Factor, Deal or No Deal and MasterChef continue to perform strongly. In India, we recently produced Temptation Island; MasterChef continues to dominate in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Cambodia; while LEGO Masters returned for a second season in China and launched in Japan earlier this year. We saw Million Dollar Minute and The Face in Vietnam and Your Face Sounds Familiar in Mongolia, and First and Last Thailand has recently been renewed for its seventh season. Smaller territories like Mongolia are also contributing to this success with the recently signed deals of Killer Karaoke and Spelling Star.

WS: What genres dominate on the formats side?
BAJPAI: Game shows such as Money Dropcontinue to appeal to and entertain audiences across age groups and demographics; the fun, interactive, co-viewing formats attract audiences and sponsors alike. Interestingly, our formats are not only successful in the primary language—for instance, we have a Hindi version in India now being produced in six regional languages. Localizing formats with language versions has proven to be very lucrative.

WS: What potential do you see for scripted format adaptations from your extensive slate?
BAJPAI: The potential is huge. The burgeoning Banijay catalog consists of popular and critically acclaimed dramas such as The Fall, Broadchurch, Younger, Humans and Bron, to name a few. The momentum we are witnessing with scripted adaptations is encouraging. We adapted Bronin Malaysia and Singapore as The Bridge. We have adapted Humans in China and more recently launched season three of Aarya on Disney+ Hotstar, adapted from our Dutch drama Penoza. It is a great opportunity for our clients to have access to our writers, creators and developers and adapt a story locally at a subsidized cost. It also reduces the risk to some extent, as they are buying a show that has proven successful.

WS: What demand are you seeing on the tape sales side?
BAJPAI: The demand for entertainment shows continues to increase. Most free-to-air and pay-TV broadcasters want to appeal to mass audiences, and we are pleased to offer family entertainment titles like Buddy Games, Hot Wheels ChallengeBeat Shazam, LEGO Masters USA and, of course, the MasterChef franchise. The other genre that always gets traction is factual, and to that extent, we are even stronger now with the addition of the Beyond catalog.

WS: We’ve seen massive shifts in the streamer strategies globally; are you also seeing that in AsiaPac?
BAJPAI: Nearly all Asian streamers are focusing on local content. Streamers are investing heavily in scripted dramas as it helps them get subscribers. We remain hopeful that AVOD and freemium services will continue contributing to and growing our business in 2024.

WS: Some of the pan-regional entertainment services from the global giants have been shut down; how has that impacted your tape-sales business?
BAJPAI: The closing of these channels had knock-on effects on our business, and the situation is unlikely to change soon. That said, we have found new partners, such as Rewind Networks and Rock Entertainment, who have successfully launched linear channels in this environment and are continuing to expand. The linear TV landscape has changed dramatically over the last few years, and the growth chart is not as steep as online video platforms, but it cannot be ignored either. The adoption of online video streamers in markets such as India has also made up for this loss.

WS: What are your forecasts for your AsiaPac content sales business in 2024?
BAJPAI: We will have to be more flexible and creative in our approach. We have not rested on our laurels in India and have recently concluded regional format deals for MasterChef in Tamil and Telugu. The idea is to go hyper-local.

We hope to offer more solutions in terms of sponsorship ideas, monetization opportunities and long-term strategies, such as shared production hubs in Asia. We hope to grow the business with our clients, and we are proud to be associated with the likes of ABS-CBN in the Philippines, MNC in Indonesia and Heliconia in Thailand.