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Indian TV Distribution Networks Congress 2010: Drawing up a roadmap for digitisation

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Indian TV Distribution Networks Congress 2010: Drawing up a roadmap for digitisation

The afternoon sessions at the Indian Television Distribution Networks Congress 2010 touched upon two topics – ‘IPTV and Mobile TV: Road to Future or yet a distant dream’, and ‘Broadcasters & Bouquets’.

The session on ‘IPTV and Mobile TV’ was moderated by Amitabha Srivastava, Country Head-India, Radio Netherlands, while the panel members included Dinesh Chandra, GM – Brand, Samsung India Electronics Ltd; Alan Dishington, Country Head, NDS; and Anil Prakash, Secretary General, IPTV Forum.

Commencing the session, Srivastava asked the panelists to give their views on the future of IPTV and mobile TV in India. Anil Prakash started off by saying, “This technology is just getting matured in India. I hope, in future fixed line connection can also be monetised. In IPTV, unlimited channels can be watched, which is not possible in other domains. Being an interactive medium, consumers can enjoy value added services and video on demand through it. We should take IPTV as a complementary and not as a competitor of TV, because IPTV cannot be as strong as DTH or cable.”

Bringing in an international perspective, Alan Dishington said, “We have many IPTV subscribers all over the world, but in India, people have to be very patient to enjoy this service. This medium requires a good network and an uninterrupted broadcast service needs to be assured. Moreover, it is very expansive, whereas there are other technologies available at lesser rates in the market. Also, it is very difficult to make it a good business model. At present, it seems that DTH and cable TV will be the point of focus in India.”

To give the mobile industry’s point of view on this new innovation, Dinesh Chandra said, “We look at reach, impact and ROI when taking any new route. We also look at dominance and the trust part. New media has to build up trust among the consumers first. There is no serious problem for the existing media; TV will continue to dominate and grow. We should also look at the fact whether it is a real need of Indians? It may work outside home, but cannot work inside the home unless it satisfies a real big need of the consumer. We will focus on IPTV when we will see it growing in the country.”

PS Parsuram, former Head of Innovation and Content, Airtel and industry expert, commented here, “IPTV is a most capable and robust platform, but it is an elitist service. It needs ‘on demand content’ and lots of investment. The challenge is that it will take a long haul before content cost can be recovered. In case of mobile TV, as in till it is launched in India, it finds traction, and spearheaded by live content channels and sports and news channels, can take lead in it.”

Broadcasters & Bouquets

Before getting on with the final session of the day on ‘Broadcasters & Bouquets’, Atul Phadnis, CEO, What’s-On-India, gave a short presentation on the availability of multiple choices and the impact on content consumption. What happens to viewer behaviour when you triple or quadruple content choice? Phadnis noted, “Increased distribution leads to abundant choice. Content consumption flattens to create a long tail.”

Speaking on the effect of abundant choices, Phadnis said in that case unplanned viewing started happening. “Seventy per cent of all TV sessions are unplanned in India. In that sense, India is mirroring US trends,” he said.

He then made a short audio-visual presentation of the TV guidance offered by What’s-On-India.

The session on ‘Broadcasters & Bouquets’ was moderated by MK Anand, CEO, UTV Broadcasting, while the panelists included Anuj Gandhi, CEO, DEN; Atul Phadnis; and Sharmista Rijhwani, Advisor, BAG Films.

Speaking on the analog and DTH markets, Anuj Gandhi explained, “In 2002, it was only an analog market. We need to go beyond the present scenario and look at some of the new opportunities to make consumers pay a little more. For the next few years, eyeballs will remain on cable operators only, so ad revenue should be targeted from there and subscription revenues can be targeted from the DTH medium.”

When asked by moderator Anand how the consumer was getting benefited by the bouquets, Atul Phadnis said that consumers were not aware of how they were getting these bouquets, so they were not at all getting any benefit out of it. “Consumer is getting choice in the digital domain, however, he wants more options. For example, this year Zee’s results have shown that its DTH subscription revenues are about to take over cable.”

According to Sharmista Rijhwani, “Digitisation is happening in the country in various forms like CAS and DTH, but the basic that content is king remains unchanged. Had DTH been pushed like CAS, the situation would have been better. A big concern is that cable is still very cheap, hence competition has to be created between cable and DTH for betterment of the industry.”

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