UDigital’s Arré India wins best lifestyle sports and entertainment award

WAN-Ifra’s Word Digital Media Awards 2019

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Arré India won the best in lifestyle, sports, entertainment award at the World Digital Media Awards presented at the World Media Congress gala dinner in Glasgow in Scotland on 2nd June 2019. The new media organization produces narratives across text, web series, fiction and non-fiction video, as well as short viral videos and sketches. Its work was named best in lifestyle, sports, entertainment website or mobile service, while R.AGE Malaysia a regular winner at the WDM Awards was named best branded content project. The global competition was contested by the winners from WAN-Ifra’s regional digital media competitions.

Owned by Mumbai-based UDigital, a company promoted by Ronnie Screwala Arré India who is perhaps one of India’s most perceptive media investors. He has invested in almost every type of new media start-up in the past three decades and also managed to successfully exit from several. Screwala’s co-promoters include B Saikumar and Ajay Chacko both formerly senior executives in TV18. The initial funding was said to be around Rs. 150 crore and the site went live in January 2016.

Arré is an exclamatory Hindi word that could mean a number of things – what, stop, or come on! The promoters say that it is a reflection of the disruptive content and its business model includes branded content and in the case of some content subscriptions. It is definitely an interesting and modern mix rooted in traditional cultural and music forms. For revenues, apart from advertising and subscriptions, a number of new kinds of tie-ups with consumer brands and service suppliers are envisioned.

Content is sourced and developed from several channels – all outsourced. Books, videos, poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, news features all come from professionals outside its own in-house team of about 25 persons. It has forged partnerships such as one with the Indian Express for producing investigative documentaries based on stories done by the daily’s staff. Reality shows are also a part of a dynamic menu envisioned by the founders and promoters.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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