We have more than 15 million monthly active users: Head- Brand Marketing, ixigo

Shuchi Chawla talks about the new trends in the travel industry and explains how marketing plays an important role in building the business

Tourism and travel industry in India is witnessing a huge upsurge in demand. According to a forecast by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the Indian tourism sector is expected to grow at an annual average rate of 7 per cent over the next 10 years. One of the major factors contributing to this boom is advancement in technology and availability of digital tools. Mobile apps have brought about a huge transformation in the industry over the past two years.

We caught up with Shuchi Chawla, Head - Brand Marketing, ixigo, to understand how the travel industry is emerging, what are its various aspects and how marketing plays an important role in building the business.

Here’s is the edited excerpts:

What are the emerging trends in the tourism and travel sector?

Indians are changing the way they travel. Now, everyone wants to experience travel and experiential tourism is one of the key emerging trends, especially with the millennials. Another trend that has come up is short and frequent vacations. During long weekends, there is 30-40% spike in bookings across platforms.

With these kind of changes happening at the micro level, travel and tourism industry has seen a huge upsurge. Factors such as digital payment options, better internet connectivity and more active users are driving the growth in the travel industry.


What makes ixigo's content and video marketing stand out from the rest?

We usually start with understanding the objective of a campaign and carefully figuring out who we have to target. Our core idea is that the message should go across in the simplest way and a friendly manner because many times brands try to complicate the communication and do not understand the consumers’ point of view. We ensure that the communication is conversational in nature.

We ensure that all our communication is built for a low attention span. You will never find an ixigo ad that is 30 seconds long. We try to wind up in 15- 20 seconds. This strategy has really worked very well because it shows that we are quick, to the point and witty while delivering the message. We are able to catch the consumers’ attention within 5-6 seconds and this is what makes our content click across. The content must be share-worthy and leave a thought in the mind.

What kind of marketing strategy works for ixigo?

In terms of marketing strategy, we feel that travel as a product is assistive in nature. Lot of our marketing and communication strategy flows from our vision, which is taking the help of technology and providing personalized and customized solutions to the end consumers. So, be it in branded content or acquisition strategy, we try and replicate things more smartly. Two things that are important for us from marketing and brand standpoint are-- to create awareness and to maximize trails. We believe in pull communication rather than push and it must be focused, personalized and reach the consumers at the right time.


What kind of tools work for marketing-- experimental or influential?

Insights work for us. We try and understand the motive of a consumer behind looking at any piece of communication.

Till now, we have been able to drive conversation without any big names or influencer. Most of what we do is organic. Experimental marketing is coming up, but we believe that solving the basics is more important for travellers. We are just focusing on that right now.

We don’t see ourselves directly collaborating with any celebrity right now, unless we strongly feel about it. If a campaign demands, we might go ahead but not from an ixigo point of view.


How many transactions ixigo currently knocks in a month? At what rate is the company growing?

We have seen a phenomenal growth in the last four years. Currently, our year-on- year growth rate in terms of transaction is 3x to 4x and we have connected with more than 100 million travellers across India. In terms of monthly active users, we are well above 15 million right now and that makes us the second largest travel platform. We have achieved this without spending huge money on campaigns.

How are emerging technologies based on Cloud, AI and MI transforming travelling experience? How is Ixigo leveraging them?

We always say that we are a tech company in the travel space. We always feel that there are smarter and efficient ways to solve customers’ problems. The whole idea is to give personalized recommendations from decision making to travel plan process, with everything winding up in 5 to 10 mins.

The technology that we pursue can make travel assistance smart and hence TARA came into existence. It is a personalized voice- based travel assistant which is 100% AI- driven. It is an AI-based deep learning tool. TARA will be officially launched this year.

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MyTeam11 now available to cricket fans in nine Indian languages

The fantasy sports website also offers fantasy cricket, fantasy kabaddi, fantasy football, and fantasy volleyball

MyTeam11

MyTeam11, a fantasy sports website, has introduced a multi-language option for its 10 million+ users to cater to the ever growing passion of Indians towards fantasy sports and help them overcome any language barrier that many could be facing.  

The latest update of the application lets you choose your preferred language from a bouquet of nine Indian languages. The users just need to open the application, visit the ‘More’ section and choose the language they are familiar with. In the world of fantasy sports, MyTeam11 would be the first such platform to offer a language option to its users.

For now, the application offers nine languages including English, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Gujarati, and Bengali. However, it is expected that the fantasy giant offering fantasy cricket, fantasy kabaddi, fantasy football, and fantasy volleyball might add other languages in the coming time.

MyTeam11, who have popular former India cricketer Virender Sehwag as their brand ambassador, also offers fantasy cricket, fantasy football, fantasy volleyball, and fantasy kabaddi in two formats, namely ‘Safe Play’ and ‘Regular Play’, being the only platform to offer such multiple playing options to its users.

As explained by the COO of MyTeam11, Sanjit Sihag, “Language had been a barrier for many, and we always aspired to overcome this. After all, nothing can be better than conversing or understanding things in your native language. Thus, we planned to launch a variety of languages for our users, becoming the first fantasy sports platform to take such an initiative.”

Previously, MyTeam11 had also collaborated with over 25 TV channels including movies, music, sports, education, & regional channels so as to reach people residing in every nook and corner of the country, ahead of the upcoming cricket season of T20 & World cup.

Users can access the newly introduced multi language option by upgrading to the latest version of MyTeam11 app.  

OTT star Mithila Palkar is the new favourite for brands

Palkar is the brand face of Joy Face wash. The commercials for the same were released earlier this month. New set of commercials for the brand’s sunscreen range is all set to go on air in April

Mithila Palkar

She’s made it to some of the most sought after lists like the GQ’s 50 Most Influential Young Indians, Forbes list of 30 under 30 and several others. But that is not the end of her success story. She is making brands chase her. Popular face on OTT platforms, Mithila Palkar has her kitty full with not just offers as an actor but also as the face of several popular brands.

Palkar debuted on the digital medium on YouTube with her cover of Anna Kendrick’s Cups, in 2016 titled ‘Hi ChalTuruTuru’. Ever since her followers on similar platforms and on social media has only gone up. With over 1.5 million followers on Instagram, Palkar who is known for her popular series like ‘Girl in the City’ and ‘Little Things’ is now the new favourite among brands.

Palkar is the brand face of Joy Face wash. The commercials for the same were released earlier this month. New set of commercials for the brand’s sunscreen range is all set to go on air in April.

The internet sensation is also the face for Marico India’s hair care product Livon that has earlier had actors like Kangana Ranaut as brand ambassador. Palkar also endorses Vodafone. According to sources the actor is in talks with several other brands for similar associations.
But why are brands looking at OTT actors for being their face. Perhaps her curly hair and girl next door look, is relatable and realistic. “Brands are willing to invest in her due to her marketability and the best pricing points in the business. Being the sensation of an untapped market she opens more avenues for brands, which allows them to charter unknown territories that are more commercially viable than the traditional medium of promotions. It would be great to see Mithila endorsing young and fun products and services like cosmetics, light jewellery, fun holidays, and fun food. People would associate her with young fun,” said brand expert Dimple Gupta, director at Strategic Brand Consultants.

According to Palkar the trend of having young talents like her as the face of a brand is here to stay. “People are looking out constantly for relatable content while watching shows or watching films and a familiar face helps, because if they resonate with someone or someone's life. When I endorse a brand I mostly look for something that is very close to me. There are many things that I personally believe in and I have faith in and if the brand is giving the same message through their product then that is what I go for. So if I see myself using something in the future, or I am using it already, I will totally endorse it,” said Palkar.

It’s a win win for both Palkar and the brands. Koshy George, Chief Marketing Officer, Marico India said, “Young, fun and fab, Livon is the go-to brand for great hair for the millennial who wants to look her best all the time. With its range that delivers salon finish hair on demand, Livon is the perfect companion for this girl who wants everything right here and right now. Mithila truly embodies the spirit of the brand with her vivacious personality and brings it alive on mediums the millennial loves.”

SBI Life Insurance launches ‘Thanks A Dot’ breast cancer awareness initiative

An easy-to-use self-training module to detect the early signs of lump formation can be ordered free of cost through SBI Life’s corporate website

SBI Thanks A Dot

SBI Life Insurance has launched ‘Thanks A Dot’, an innovative breast cancer awareness initiative that is supported by the Women’s Cancer Initiative-Tata Memorial Hospital. The programme intends to empower the women of India by educating them about early lump detection through simple self-examination techniques.

An easy-to-use self-training module to detect the early signs of lump formation can be ordered free of cost through SBI Life’s corporate website:  https://www.sbilife.co.in/thanksadot

To take this initiative forward and ensure maximum reach, the communication and promotions online will be handled and executed by SBI Life’s digital and social media partner, WATConsult, the digital and social media agency from the house of Dentsu Aegis Network.

#ThanksADot - An awareness initiative to empower the women of India

According to the Union Health Ministry, Breast Cancer ranks as the number one cancer disease among Indian females. Around 20% of breast cancers are detected by physical examination but unfortunately, only 38% of women regularly undergo self-breast examination. Further, studies indicate that 1 in 28 women are likely to develop breast cancer during her lifetime making it even more essential for women to self-examine. While treatment costs can range between INR 2.5 lakhs to 20 lakhs, there is an alarming need for financial preparedness for the treatment, if diagnosed.

Devieka Bhojwani, a breast cancer survivor and Vice President of Women’s Cancer Initiative-Tata Memorial Hospital said, “The Women’s Cancer Initiative, has been constantly working towards making a difference, by spreading awareness about the importance of early detection in Breast Cancer. India is seeing a steady rise in the cases of Breast Cancer, with as many as 1,00,000 new cases being detected every year. Early detection is vital and can improve cure rates in about 80% of the cases. Many Indian women and their families rarely understand the importance of this issue and fail to undergo regular check-ups. SBI Life’s Thanks-A-Dot tool allows you to learn and understand what a lump would feel like. It is your way to start familiarising yourself.”

‘Thanks A Dot’ self-detection tool has been designed using real breast cancer mammograms to re-create breast cancer lumps using a special algorithm and 3D printing. The breast cancer lump shapes are put on a learning card in the form of a language inspired by Braille. Users solve puzzles and quizzes using the special language (present on the learning card), thus capturing a positive feeling of carrying out early detection examination and promoting regular self-checks. 'Thanks A Dot' helps improve tactile (touch) capacity in women to detect early signs of lump formation.

Ravindra Sharma, Chief of Brand & Corporate Communications, SBI Life Insurance said “Cancer in India has more than doubled over the last 26 years. The impact can be devastating on families both emotionally and financially. Though breast cancer is most common among Indian women both in terms of occurrence as well as mortality, it continues to remain a taboo in India. Moreover, women who are aware of the concept of self-examination are unsure of what a lump feels like. ‘Thanks-A-Dot’ is a path-breaking initiative. While improving tactile capacity in women it also simultaneously fosters positive conversations around self-breast examination, thereby breaking social barriers that have plagued our society for long.”

“As a responsible life insurer, we believe that we have an important role to play in educating and empowering women by increasing awareness about breast cancer and its financial implications. We hope that ‘Thanks A Dot’ can make a meaningful difference by helping women in being prepared for the uncertainties of life,” Sharma added.

SBI Life has leveraged multiple digital platforms to launch the ‘Thanks a Dot’ awareness initiative; the campaign has rolled out with the launch of a video that highlights the significance of the power of touch and showcases the benefits of self-breast examination through this tool. The video urges every woman to take a step further and inculcate a habit of self-breast examination regularly and confidently.

Speaking about the initiative, Rajiv Dingra, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, WATConsult said, “Early detection is the key to breast cancer survival and even though many women are aware of this, most are unsure of the feel of a lump formation. Thus, taking an inspiration from the Braille language and Power of Touch and to inculcate a habit of self-examination at an earlier stage, we created an innovative product - "Thanks A Dot", an easy-to-use self-training puzzle card to bring the power detection to your fingertips and enabling women to take necessary actions sooner rather than later.” The first phase of the initiative kick-started on International Women’s Day, featuring the ‘Real Life Real Story’ video of Mrs. Sujaya Walia, a breast cancer survivor, and activist. In the video, Mrs. Walia is seen talking about her journey fighting cancer, how family and financial preparedness holds key and urges more women to come forward and discuss such issues openly.

Mrs. Sujaya Walia, a breast cancer survivor, and activist

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JK Lakshmi Cement renews association with Rajasthan Royals

Rajasthan Royals to sport pink jerseys, signifying their Pink City origin and sport the logo of JK Lakshmi Cement

JK Cements

After making a refreshed entry back into the IPL last season, Rajasthan Royals are with new pink jerseys - signifying their Pink City origin - with the logo of JK Lakshmi Cement for the second consecutive season.

Rajasthan Royals is all set for a cracking show under the steward-ship of Ajinkya Rahane. 

Speaking on the renewed association with Rajasthan Royals, Dr. Shailendra Chouksey, Whole Time Director, JK Lakshmi Cement Ltd. said, “It has been a power-packed journey for us as well as the Royals and the decision to continue our association was but natural. While both JK Lakshmi and Rajasthan Royals hail from the state, the aspiration of both partners is to constantly strive to rise, improve and scale newer heights.” 

Inspired by the association with Rajasthan Royals during IPL 2018, JK Lakshmi Cement launched a new brand named as JK Sixer Cement – a product which attributes the winning strokes to all class of constructions like the most scoring shot in cricket. 

The theme of cricket captured in the JK Sixer cement was well appreciated in various markets. In this season’s renewed association of JK Lakshmi with the Royals; logos of JK Sixer will flash on the back of helmets and caps of the squad. 
The team’s inherent strength, killer instinct, Buland Soch coupled with fast improvisation in its strategy is in sync with the philosophy of JK Lakshmi Cement Ltd., Dr Chouksey asserted. 

“Rajasthan Royals have shown the unmatched temperament last season and in this year it will come forth as stronger contender in the championship,” he said. 

Ranjit Barthakur, Executive Chairman, Rajasthan Royals said, "We are delighted to have JK Lakshmi Cement our last year’s sponsor back this season again. This consistency in collaboration I am sure will strengthen the performance of Rajasthan Royals and JK Lakshmi as a brand." 

The Royals’ team which had experimented with pink during practice sessions and even played a game last season has now switched to the colour this season from its blue jerseys in the last season. 

“This is an exciting change for us and comes as a response to the fantastic reaction from the fans to our training kit and of course inspired by the colour of our state that has a touch of pink everywhere,” Barthakur said. 

Zee Café to telecast Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films 

To be aired every Thursday and Friday, along with celebrity chat show with critic Anupama Chopra

ZEE CAFE

Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films will now be available on Zee Café. In its new offering, Zee Café will air short stories every Thursday and Friday at 10.30PM only on Zee Café. Also, see these master story tellers in conversation with Anupama Chopra on Saturday nights at 10.30PM.  

The films telecasted include titles like Maya, Amma Meri, The Last Chapter, Ladoo, Churri, Shame, Playboy and Waterbaby, amongst many others.

The filmmakers behind these masterpieces include names like Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, Sujoy Ghosh, Anusha Bose, Samir Sadhwani, Pia Shah, Mansi Jain and Sandeep Verma.

For this short-format series, Zee Café has entered a strategic association with Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films to narrate stories through the voices of Bollywood’s ace storytellers.

With a specially curated library that will air nine original, powerful and perfect short films, Zee Café will take its fans on a captivating journey. 

Speaking on the association, Kartik Mohindra, Chief Marketing Officer, Pernod Ricard, said, “We are delighted to associate with Zee Network, a brand that has always been curating new-age content for their audiences. The short film industry has been growing dramatically owing to the changing viewer habits. Our platform Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films has become the torchbearer for original, powerful and perfect content. This partnership is a great opportunity for us to reach out to a wider audience and showcase our content on television.”

Kartik Sharma, CEO, Wavemaker, South Asia, said, “Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films is an established, much loved property. It was a natural extension for it to expand it to a much wider, more efficient medium like television. Since the content on Large Short Films is diverse we partnered with Zee Network to leverage its strength as a network catering to different kinds of audiences through a large presence across genres. PRI as a client has always been exciting to work with & it has always provided us opportunities to explore and push our boundaries. ”

Ashish Sehgal, Chief Growth Officer, ZEEL, said, “Short-films as a format is fairly underexposed. With audiences increasingly looking out for fresh content, these short films truly serve as a popular medium to showcase interesting works of budding and established filmmakers. Through this exciting association, Zee Café and &Pictures HD together provide the perfect platform for Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short films to give their content a wider reach and visibility. Additionally, clients today are looking at engaging with their audiences in more than one way.” 

Tata Motors unveils Harrier VIVO IPL TV campaign 

TVC featuring Fatima Sana Sheikh and Siddhant Chaturvedi will be played throughout IPL season on ground and digital platforms

Tata Harrier

Tata Motors has announced a TV campaign comprising a ‘Mini-Series’ of TV ads that hinges on the story of 'Love At First Drive'. 

After an extremely successful partnership last season, Tata Motors will showcase its newly-launched, flagship SUV – Harrier at the vaunted tournament this year. 

Depicting the superlative quality of the Harrier, the Mini-Series will feature Bollywood talents Siddhant Chaturvedi from ‘Gully Boy’ and Fatima Sana Shaikh of ‘Dangal’ fame. 

Scheduled for a nationwide release on March 23, this campaign is set to add a further dash of glamour to the Harrier and tell the story of how the SUV with its stunning and bold design, impressive road presence and performance creates an impression which is beyond ‘love at first sight’. Highlighting the company’s association with the league for the second consecutive year, these TVCs will be played throughout the 50 days of the IPL season, well supported on ground and digital platforms. 

Tapping on the pan India following of the game, this campaign will be advertised across Star Sports network of 21 channels (National & Regional) to ensure the brand resonates with the audiences across the country. Conceived by 82.5 Communications, the films for the TVCs have been produced by Storytellers. 

Vivek Srivatsa, Head - Marketing, Passenger Vehicles Business Unit, Tata Motors, said, “The first year of our association with the IPL proved to be a game changer for our much celebrated, compact SUV, the Tata Nexon which won many hearts and is now one of the leading players in its segment. We are confident that the 12th season of the IPL will be much bigger in terms of viewership and spectators at the stadiums. Through the ‘Love at First Drive’ campaign for the Harrier, we want to capture the audience’s attention in a manner that is both clutter breaking and eye-catching.

Furthermore, Siddhant and Fatima embody the spirit of the Harrier and lend their individual style and appeal to the campaign. We are confident that the TVCs will project the right imagery for the Harrier and will help the brand to capture the imagination of a billion plus audience, just like the IPL itself.”

Anuraag Khandelwal, ECD, 82.5 Communications from Ogilvy Group, Mumbai said, “The Harrier is one outstanding SUV. We wanted to do something disruptive. Not only in the category but across categories. So, we came from a simple observation, that when one saw the Harrier, one fell in love with it. More so after test-driving it! Hence the idea #LoveAtFirstDrive.”

As an official partner, the all-new Harrier will be showcased across stadiums. As part of this association, Tata Motors will continue to strengthen its existing IPL properties the ‘Harrier Super Striker’ and ‘Harrier Fan Catch’. Harrier Super Striker Award is for the player with highest batting strike rate in every match. In addition, the Harrier Super Striker of the season will drive home the all-new Harrier at the end of the season. The Harrier Fan Catch award of Rs 1 Lakh is for the fan who takes a single-handed catch of a six during the match. Also, one lucky fan who wins the most popular Harrier Fan Catch of the season will drive home a Tata Motors car.

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Vodafone back with ‘Unofficial Sponsor of Fans campaign’

As part of the campaign, Vodafone customers have an opportunity to win an iPhone X every match 

vodafone

Vodafone is back with its ‘Unofficial Sponsor of Fans campaign’, adding to the excitement and taking the cricket fever a notch higher. Following its belief of celebrating the fans of the game, Vodafone has launched this national campaign that goes live on Saturday.

As part of the campaign, Vodafone has announced Vodafone FANtastic Breaks Contest that gives the customers an opportunity to win an iPhone X every match, by answering few simple questions during the month-long cricket season.  
The FANtastic Breaks Contest is part of the campaign Vodafone Unofficial Sponsor of Fans. It tests a person on cricket and general trivia. To participate during the match ad breaks, Vodafone consumers can visit the Vodafone website or MyVodafone app, log on to Vodafone Zoozoo Facebook page or dial *202# and answer simple questions. They will stand a chance to win exciting prizes every ad break and iPhone X every match.

Kavita Nair, Chief Digital Transformation Officer and Brand Officer, Vodafone Idea said, “Vodafone has always believed in celebrating the spirit of the fans and adding to the excitement of the sport. Launched last year, ‘Unofficial Sponsor of Fans’ was a huge success as it was led by consumer insight and emotions and helped us engage with our customers in a meaningful way. This year, we are making a bold move and going digital only. A lot of our audiences are on the digital medium and a lot of conversation happens on the social media platforms, making it an obvious choice for us.  We hope that we are able to delight our customers as we always endeavor to.”

Snapchat enters into collaboration with IPL teams

Fans will get behind-the-scenes updates and chance to show support through Augmented Reality Lenses, Our Stories and more

snapchat

Snapchat has teamed up with Mumbai Indians, Rajasthan Royals, Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders for this IPL season. 

The partnership will bring fans at home and in the stadium behind-the-scenes updates and the chance to show their support for their favourite team on match days through creative Augmented Reality Lenses, Our Stories and more.
 
Follow your team
Follow Mumbai Indians @mi_platan, Rajasthan Royals @rajasthanroyals, Chennai Super Kings @yelloveforever and Kolkata Knight Riders @kkrsnaps on Snapchat where they will be posting updates and behind-the-scenes highlights to their Official Account’s Story and receive notifications when they post.
 
In addition, CricTracker and Sportskeeda will launch on Snapchat’s Discover providing up-to-date news on all things IPL through their own Publisher Stories.
 
Get creative
Fans will also be able to celebrate key moments and show their support in creative ways by wearing their teams’ colours with special augmented reality lenses and by adding creative touches to their snaps with a range of custom filters and stickers.
 
There will also be Our Stories around the opening weekend games in Chennai, Mumbai, Jaipur and Kolkata, celebrating the best submissions from fans across India, with the first going live on March 25. 

Fantasy Sports company, Fantain ropes in Suresh Raina as its brand ambassador

Raina will be the face of the company across all its brand communication campaigns starting March 2019 ahead of IPL 12 and ICC Cricket World Cup 2019

Suresh Raina Fantain

Fantasy sports and fan engagement company Fantain Sports, today announced the appointment of Indian cricket star Suresh Raina as its brand ambassador. The left-handed batsman will be the face of the company across all its brand communication campaigns starting March 2019, ahead of the 12th season of the Indian Premier League and ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.

Suresh Raina is the first Indian batsman to score a century in all three formats in international cricket and was a significant part of India’s winning squad at the World Cup in 2011. He is the leading run scorer across IPL’s 11 seasons and a critical team member of the three-time winner and defending champions Chennai Super Kings. Raina is also only the second youngest player to don the captain’s hat in the ODI format for India.

Commenting on the partnership, Anand Ramachandran, Co-founder & CEO, Fantain said "Suresh Raina is a legend in his own right and we are delighted to be associated with him. His sheer talent, teamwork, and energy have won several matches for India and CSK. He always plays the game with a straight bat and this partnership is a perfect fit for us, as we build a platform based on trust and transparency. We wish Suresh the best of luck for this IPL and beyond.”

Speaking about the association, Suresh Raina, cricketer and brand ambassador for Fantain, said, “Fantain offers a great way for sports fans to experience fantasy sports. I am delighted to be associated with a company that provides a fantastic opportunity for sports enthusiasts to come closer to the game. The passion and energy that the Fantain team brings to the table have been a key driver in forging this partnership. I look forward to collaborating with them and engage with fans on a more personal level.”

Fantain will unveil its marketing campaign #GameHaathMein which is a call to every fan to become an active one by following his/her favourite sport on their mobiles. Along with the campaign, Fantain will launch a new version of the app that will include exciting new features like multi-match fantasy, block-chain security, additional player statistics, additional payment options and enhanced cricket content. The campaign will also target the vast customer base of BookMyShow, with a host of exciting free giveaways. BookMyShow is a strategic investor in the Chennai-based firm.

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FICCI-EY 2019 report suggests OTT platforms to benefit from TRAI’s New Tariff Order

OTT players react to FICCI-EY 2019 report and assert Television will not lose either

OTT

TRAI’s New Tariff Order (NTO) has become a major topic of discussion. With the final date of March 31 drawing close, more and more facets of this new order are pondered upon. 

The FICCI-EY 2019 report titled ‘A billion screens of opportunity’ suggests a few scenarios pertaining to NTO which might become a reality in the coming days. As per one scenario, OTT platforms are sure to benefit due to increased parity between television and OTT consumption – both in terms of content choice and costs. 

As per the NTO, the power lies in the hands of the customers who can pick and choose channels of their choice. Under the order, DTH providers can only charge subscribers a maximum of INR 130, excluding the applicable GST, for a set of 100 channels, while letting the customers to further opt and pay for the channels of their liking, separately. 

We spoke to OTT players to understand if the NTO can have an impact on the OTT platform. Many of the OTT players are also key broadcasters and they believe there will never be an either/or situation.

Uday Sodhi, Business Head – Digital, SonyLIV, Sony Pictures Network India, told exchange4media, “I don’t see the correlation between the two. The order is part of the evolution of television ecosystem. The digital ecosystem is anyway a fast growing one and if you look at the ENY report also, it shows that the digital ecosystem is growing at a fast pace. As it is the business has enough momentum so I don’t think that NTO will really impact it in any substantial way in the long run. There might be temporary impact on the market for a while.”

Manish Aggarwal, Business Head, ZEE5 India, admitted that they have observed higher than usual numbers of streaming but asserted that TV will never lose its dominance. “We are witnessing higher than usual numbers for streaming daily TV soaps as viewers are aligning their cable TV packs and channels may have blacked out. Having said that, more than cost, OTT drives a significant traffic due to the convenience it offers to the users. Television has its own audiences and in spite of rapid growth in digital consumption, TV remains to have its dominance in India due to various factors and will continue to coexist with OTT in the long run,” said Manish Aggarwal.

Karan Bedi, CEO, MX Player, however, believes that the new pricing regime for broadcast channels can drive OTT consumption. “It’s the content and the availability of better payment pipes that are the main drivers for entertainment today. The flexibility and varied subscription models that come with OTT platforms appeal to audiences who no longer want to be restricted to a single TV screen. The new pricing regime for broadcast channels should further drive OTT consumption and I believe there will be experimentation on both platforms, across verticals like never seen before,” Bedi explains.

In an earlier interaction with exchange4media, Nina Elavia Jaipuria, Head - Hindi & Kids TV Network, Viacom18 had informed that there will never be an either/or situation. “OTT is a trend that will compliment broadcast. I totally believe that two can co-exist. From Viacom’s perspective, we feel whichever screen consumers prefers to watch, Viacom will be present. Viewers can watch the same content on Voot that they missed on broadcast. To me, TV is the future of TV. Today, penetration of TV is only 66%. We have gone to 196 million households now. But there are 266mn households we can expand to. To me both will grow and both will complement each other. It will never be an either-or situation,” Jaipuria insists.

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