The New Age space in India is always faced with changes of varied sorts. Given the opportunities and the endless platforms for ventures to expand, what the future entails for the medium can never be foretold. The session on ‘Online Media Platforms: Creating an audience of one and a billion’ at Day Two of FICCI Frames saw the panelists debate the real future of online media platforms; whether it would come from user generated media or traditional media? Whatever the reality, what was agreed was that user-generated media would play a significant role in the years to come.
The panelists included Vikram Chandra, CEO, NDTV Networks; Sanjeev Bikchandani, Founder and CEO, Info Edge India Ltd; Sushmita Vij, Product Director, Microsoft, USA; Kamal Gianchandani, COO, BigFlicks.com, Reliance Home Entertainment; Ringo Chan, VP, Wireless and Distribution - Asia Pacific, Turner; Leonard Brody, VC, Entrepreneur, Co-Founder and CEO, Now public, Canada; and moderator Stefan Rust, Chairman, Mobile Entertainment Forum, Asia.
Speaking on the revenue models on the Internet, Bikchandani said, “Web 2.0 is great but earning revenues over the internet is a challenge as most consumers do not pay to access, the services.” On the increasing shift to mobile phones as a mode for browsing, Bikchandani said, “Mobiles are used mostly for e-mail and not browsing, as one would assume.” He admitted that ‘flavour of the month’ phenomenon is one issue that needs to be tackled as of now. He followed his statement by citing the example of Orkut, which is seeing its users increasingly shifting to Facebook.
While agreeing to the fact that the online medium is growing rapidly, Vikram Chandra, however, refused to believe that the growth of user generated media would result in the shutdown of television. “We have to embrace internet and mobile devices as these are the main streams. This is the future,” he said.
According to Chandra, NDTV has always being following such a pattern, a case in point being the Jessica Lal murder case and the ‘Save the Tiger’ campaign. According to Chandra, much of the success of the two campaigns could be credited to the public involvement through SMS, online petitions, and even blogs that were created for the purpose.
Stressing on the future of online entertainment, Sushmita Vij said, “The future of online entertainment is the consumer; it’s going to be about my choice, my device and my control.” She emphasised on the fact that user generated media provides an opportunity to people to express their editorial voice and allows them to tell their story. She further said that what happens behind the scene is what matters to the people, which is also a form of entertainment. “The future is entertainment online,” concluded Viz.
Providing his perspective on citizen journalism, Leonard Brody said, “The truth about citizen journalism is that it is not journalism, citizen journalism is about being in a place where no one can be. Except for India, the newspapers across the globe are a sinking ship,” he said. Brody also spoke on the shifting patterns of News with the arrival of Facebook, Orkut and YouTube. He noted that there was now a big shift observed in the concept of Breaking News on the web. Stressing on the same, he said that for a user it was breaking news whenever he got the news, even if it might be a year old!
“Online platforms are one of the threats I foresee to the entertainment industry,” said, Kamal Gianchandani, adding, “The audiences are loyal to the content brand as it is the content and not the platform that attracts the people and the key to success would be to find new content.”
Gianchandani’s thought was seconded by Ringo Chan, who summed up by stating, “If we don’t embrace the New Media, the threat may eventually turn out to be true.”