With roughly two weeks left for the digitisation deadline in four metros, MSOs and broadcasters alike are excited about the positive changes that digitisation of cable TV will bring about. As Rahul Johri, Senior Vice President and General Manager, South Asia, Discovery Networks Asia Pacific, put it, viewers will be the biggest beneficiary of digitisation as it will increase their choice quotient.
Thus, creation of content in the new world of digitisation becomes an altogether different ballgame. Stressing on the importance of quality of content, Johri said that people must be ready to pay for better quality content.
Commenting on the opportunities available across the digital platform, Ashok Mansukhani, Director, Hinduja Ventures and President, MSO Alliance said that digitisation creates an opportunity to segment the audience as per the desire of the audience and that, according to him, is the biggest benefit of digitisation.
He added, “Expensive content will shift to pay-per-view, while standard content will be the bread and butter of television. In that case, expensive content will have to be made attractive and compelling to the viewers.”
Krishnan Kutty, Executive Vice President – Distribution, STAR India is excited as well as apprehensive at the same time. He too felt that the opportunities are huge and that the real opportunity is the scale of numbers. He stressed that post digitisation broadcasters will have to become more consumer-oriented, since television is no different from any other business.
Industry experts also said that with digitisation, content will see a technology shift, which is going to be a challenge for content owners.
Calling digitisation a “new dawn”, KVL Narayan Rao, Executive Vice Chairperson, NDTV, said that digitisation will come into effect in the four metros only if the stakeholders, local cable operators and broadcasters cooperate and provide quality content.
Industry experts further believe that ratings and distribution, which are currently interlinked, will see a different scenario altogether post digitisation. Though viewers will get access to 400-500 channels, experts feel that it is local issues, local concerns and local sensitivity that the Indian viewers would mostly watch. Thus, regional will play a major role and digitisation will bring the right value to the product.
Meanwhile, experts feel that while Delhi and Mumbai are all set to switch over to digital from analogue signal from November 1, the digitisation scenario in Chennai is still chaotic.
Sports in the digital space
While a major chunk of the Indian audience still remains glued to their television sets during a cricket match, a sizeable number of people are also shifting to the online medium to view cricket matches. While online viewership in terms of cricket is on the rise, connectivity continues to be a problem.
According to former BCCI Selection Committee Chairman Krishnamachari Srikanth, at least 50 crore people will be online by 2015, hence, “all of us have to adapt as well the online medium”.
He added, “Exploring new ideas leads to innovation. Innovation, in turn, leads to success. So, people who explore ideas and do something new will always be successful.”
Agreeing with him, R Sridhar, Head – Broadcasting Solutions, GMES, Tata Communications said, “Online has a great future. Every single move we make, we need to think of the emergence of online as a major platform and work accordingly.”
The road ahead
Industry gurus believe that the more the users get used to watching live sports online, the better it is for the digital medium. And if users want quality content, they have to pay for it.
Praveen Sharma, Head, Product and Solutions Sales, Google India informed, “We had 231 million streams during the London Olympics and 131 million streams during the Indian Premier League matches. This shows how the digital medium is growing.”
The use of smartphones to access the internet is also significant. For Google, 30 per cent of YouTube views come from mobile in a country where capacity constraint still exists.
The experts were sharing their views at FICCI’s Media and Entertainment Business Conclave, held in Chennai on October 16, 2012.