Supplementing its portfolio of Indian content with key acquisitions from Europe, GoQuest Media is looking to serve the scripted needs of buyers across the globe.
The Indian OTT space is booming, with platforms clamoring to raise the bar in local scripted content. For GoQuest Media, this new age of premium Indian drama is creating a wealth of opportunities. Of note, the company recently landed the distribution rights to two original series from OTT platform MX Player, Ek Thi Begum (The Mafia Queen) and Queen.
“The global streamers have already started re-educating audiences that Indian content isn’t just Bollywood,” observes Paula McHarg, the head of Europe and North America at GoQuest. “Shows like Sacred Games and Hasmukh have already penetrated households across the Western Hemisphere. This has only proven that there’s a thirst for more premium Indian content abroad and GoQuest is ready to meet that need.”
McHarg points to Queen as a key highlight for the company. Inspired by true events the series chronicles the journey of an Indian film star who later became a seasoned politician and the youngest chief minister of an Indian state. “It’s a beautiful story of female empowerment, set in gorgeous and vibrant India from the 1960s to the 1990s,” she says. “We’ve already been discussing Queen with our clients around the globe and we’re looking forward to bringing this title and more premium Indian content to new territories.”
Queen, she adds, “fits squarely within the remit of uplifting and aspirational stories to watch and escape into an exciting and vibrant period of the past.”
McHarg notes that GoQuest remains at its roots an independent distributor of Indian content, but it has expanded its catalog with key acquisitions from Europe, among them Markuss via a content pact with Media Group Ukraine (MGU). “It’s a first of its kind crime drama co-production between Ukraine and Latvia,” McHarg says of the series, about an English teacher who sets out to find her missing son and uncovers an international kidnapping ring.
With the company in “growth mode,” additional third-party acquisitions are being actively sought, McHarg notes. “We will be launching some new European titles in the coming weeks and months, but we are also taking this time to virtually go out there and find more IP to bolster our growing catalog. Our regional expertise in territories that other distributors traditionally find tricky gives us a huge advantage in the marketplace, while our boldness makes us an ideal home for edgy, standout stories from around the globe.”
At present, finished sales are the company’s priority, McHarg says. “In the current situation—with productions on hold—we are ready to deliver finished content to buyers across the world, and we have a variety of long-running romantic drama series, melodramas, crime thrillers and more to help programmers fill their schedule gaps.”
However, McHarg says the company is gearing up for productions to resume worldwide and is on the lookout for content that can be remade in India. “While new players scramble to understand the traditionally inward-facing market of India, we are already a leader in commercializing international content locally.”
McHarg says that GoQuest has been working with its clients on “fair ways to optimize the range of rights available” to them as broadcasters look to contain costs amid ad revenue declines due to COVID-19. As for the pandemic’s lasting impact on the business, McHarg notes, “The COVID-19 shutdown has mostly hastened trends that were already long in the works. Similar to the recent evolution of the content business in India, the focus globally during this time has drastically shifted to OTT players. After the shutdown ends, VODs will surely continue to see exponential growth both regionally and globally. I’m also sure that the physical restrictions of the past months have heightened the creativity of many and born new kinds of compelling stories, which will start to trickle out in the coming months. When we watch TV ten years from now, surgical masks and self-isolation plotlines will signal that the year is 2020.”