Time stands still even as it continues to flow. 2022 is here and yet it feels like we are being dragged back to 2020 screaming and resisting as the virus continues to wilfully mutate and play havoc with our lives. While it feels like some things will never change, one look at the world around us and we see everything else is in a state of churn, mutating as fast as the virus and transporting us to a completely new world with a different set of rules and game play.

The year 2021 has been tougher than 2020 for the media industry and for people in general, especially the first half when India was reeling under the second wave and its lack of preparedness.

There was an urgent push to continue with content creation since consumption was at an all-time high and supply had been impacted. With states locking down their borders, most of the productions moved to Hyderabad and Goa resulting in increased costs both for the production houses as well as the distribution platforms.

Crews were forced to stay away from their families for long periods while shooting to ensure safety and follow quarantine protocol.

The film industry suffered a huge setback since theatres remained shut for a major part of the year and films made for the big screen ended up being released on OTT platforms.

Live events and concerts as an industry probably suffered the most and were almost obliterated.

This was also the year when it hit home that content and tech were going to be some of the biggest money spinners after health care. Strategies for content aggregation, M&A (mergers and acquisitions), UGC (user generated content) growth, podcasts and tech enhancement were areas of continued and increased investment. Web 3 will become the pillar for all tech innovations going forward.

2021 was the year of the Great Resignation when people realised the extent of their compromise and did a stocktaking of their lifestyle and their priorities. Suddenly, it was possible to make do with less. Time with family and focus on self-growth became urgent drivers for many. Hybrid workplaces and flexi hours soon became the norm.

2022 will continue to be a year of flux and transition. I do believe we are moving towards a restructured media industry and it is a microcosm of how the world overall will redraw its boundaries. Teams will become leaner. There will be a reallocation of expenditure with more focus on tech, talent and content creation. We are moving towards a more collaborative and creative style of working between companies with an emphasis on hyper-specialisation, niche segmentation and more innovative contractual agreements. Aggregation and M&A will lead to the creation of a few mammoth companies that will then pare down and focus on building out relevant assets. Content has already become platform agnostic and will evolve faster in that direction. A new and more equitable star system will come into being as opportunities become more accessible to creators, screen talent and technical crews. Individuals will build personal equity and take charge of their career trajectory as jobs become more unreliable and even passé. Traditional styles of working and corporate culture will evolve into more relaxed and employee-oriented constructs. More women will enter the workforce, take on leadership roles and contribute to the economy. The world will grow inward and more locally bound as borders become less porous and the need for self sufficiency becomes essential and inescapable. All of this will be made possible by fast paced digitisation that will simplify processes and communication.

The younger generation is faced with a very different set of challenges compared to the previous generations. They are now trained, in a sense, to deal with unpredictability and chaos. This will help them navigate and adapt better when moving forward. There is no taking away from the fact that they are paying a big price at the altar of the virus. They have been deprived of the innocence and joy of a childhood spent outdoors. The joy of discovering a world outside of their home and navigating their way through an exciting and sometimes treacherous world has been snatched from them as they connect through screens and chafe at the walls that close them in. They will be the primary drivers of change in our world as they seek to find balance in this turbulence.

This year has not been easy for many people. It has required from us tenacity and a renewed appreciation for the smaller things in life as well as family and friends. The culture of aggression, unscrupulous competitiveness and inequality is slowly being replaced by compassion and collaboration. Mental health is being acknowledged and recognized as collateral damage that must be addressed as we adjust and adapt to the changing times. Transactions and connections across all aspects of life, be it personal, financial or professional are taking place across screens.

As we grow more isolated in our digital silos, we are also exposed to a more global worldview and must embrace this new dichotomy to build a better world. 

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