At the FICCI Frames 2016, a group discussion on the topic-- ‘Change or Perish: Surviving the Digital Divide’, was organised which was attended by Aroon Purie, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of The India Today Group, Arthur Bastings, President and Managing Director of Discovery Asia-Pacific, Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO of Viacom 18, Siddharth Roy Kapur, Managing Director of Disney India, Vikram Chandra, CEO of NDTV Group and Neeraj Roy, CEO, Hungama. The discussion was moderated by Pranjal Sharma, Editorial and Knowledge Advisor- The Outstanding Speakers’ Bureau.
Speaking about how India Today has adapted to the digital wave, Purie said, “The huge number of mobile phones and internet connection show that we are in favour of the digital tsunami. The audience is no doubt, shifting to digital, so there is no choice for the media organisations not to move in the direction, where your audience is. In our case, we are there in all the three mediums, be it video (24 hour news channel), print (magazine) or digital (own website).We try to integrate all the three platforms into the digital side. I feel the fundamentals still can be the same; it is all about great content. Produce exclusive content and people will come to you. This is the way forward.”
Commenting on who will pay for premium content, Vats said, “They haven’t yet advertised for their newly launched OTT platform VOOT, but the interest level is very high. The concept that consumers are not paying for premium content is not right. As the payment system develops, more and more people will have access to develop wallets, the data cost will come down and the ability to charge for content will also go up. The digital platform is working in India; you exactly know what people are doing and what they are willing to view.”
Kapur pointed out, “We launched 500 channels and did not make consumer pay anything for it. We believe if we form a habit that consumers will later come, pay and watch, does that mean that we open a series of screens and let people walk in for free. I do not think so. Yes, people are watching movies on mobile phones but that does not mean theatre screens are going away”
In his remarks, Chandra elaborated the possibility of monetising digital content and also to make it profitable. “Same content on all platforms doesn’t work. Digital is a separate entity. It is easier to measure the audience if you are on digital. Content must be created keeping in mind the consumption behaviour which can be measured by analysing the number of site visits and preferences of consumers,” he cited.
Roy concluded that while digital consumption is happening, the digital platform is on the cusp of a transformation which would be driven by innovative content, technology and distribution and monetization. He added that technology will play a constant role at the front as digital consumption is increasing and micro transactions are taking place.