"The ecosystem of non-traditional media is improving"

TV watching experience can never be replaced, but what supplements it best will also decide the course of the future, says Manoj Padmanabhan of Ditto TV

by Abhinav Trivedi
Published - Sep 3, 2013 8:26 AM Updated: Sep 3, 2013 8:26 AM
"The ecosystem of non-traditional media is improving"

In a free-wheeling interview with exchange4media, Manoj Padmanabhan, Business Head, Ditto TV talks about the convergence of media and how the platform of mobile DTH is supplementing the medium of TV in a big way, among other things...

Excerpts:
Where do you see the future of mobile DTH in an era of convergence of media?

From an ecosystem perspective, the number and kind of devices in the market an year ago were far less, which has seen a tremendous change. Our ecosystem has tremendously changed over the past few months, with newest smartphones and other devices in the market. If you look at internet broadband, major telecom companies have slashed their 3G offerings by almost 70 – 80 per cent. Therefore, the ecosystem is improving in terms of operational requirements. In the era ahead, I see immense video consumption happening on smartphones. We are dealing with professional content here, which is sourced from broadcasters.

Hence, with the above parameters and increased penetration of smartphones, tablets and other devices, the content consumption will steadily and slowly start shifting towards such platforms.

But the concept of TV on phones is very nascent in a country like India. How would you counter that?
The kind of experience I get by watching content on a big screen can never be replaced.  Our platform is basically a necessity wherein if a user has missed out something, he can stay connected using such a platform. If you look for average consumption, it is not more than 10 – 15 minutes in a day. These are always going to be supplementary devices and never going to replace the traditional medium.

Please share your revenue model.
The revenue prospects currently are based on pure subscription, because it is not an ad-driven model. Customers are willing to pay for content, but the most difficult part here is the collection of the money from consumers. People are sceptical in swiping cards. Therefore we have prepaid cards, which we distribute in the market. But to get these cards distributed is a big task as well. One cannot just distribute cards randomly. One has to create a tool for those cards to be sold.

But regular DTH does use cards for payment. What is the barrier that prohibits mobile DTH players in doing the same?
Regular DTH is a necessity, while our platform is supplementary and hence, is need-based. Ecosystem of regular DTH is largely dependent on distribution and finally they too are shifting their consumer base from distribution to direct. For us, to get into that mode would require an opportunity. We have a high speed internet-enabled smartphone as a prerequisite. All this restricts my usage to the consumers that are available today. Our audience is increasing, but we can’t do a mass media activity and get thousand subscribers at once.

How are you planning to market your platform to such mobile audiences?
We have a tech-savvy audience that is present robustly on digital medium. Therefore, I use all digital ways of reaching the consumer. We use social media, and this would not be confined to just creating brand pages. My customer is already on the internet and is just a click away. We do small retail activities at the PoP of smartphones and internet connections. I try to get my product sampled to the relevant user. We classify and understand his needs and then ask him to subscribe to our product.

How do you source your content from broadcasters?
We talk to the digital media team of all the broadcasters. We can source the content directly from the broadcaster or the distribution arm. Mostly, we speak to the channel’s digital team, because the traditional forms of media won’t help the new forms.

Are you looking for advertising revenues?
No. When we take money from the subscriber, we also pay for the bandwidth. We have our technology partner in Siemens. We have everything in place, but for the moment we are not looking for ad revenues as a model.

What about the future? Will ad revenues become critical?
We use Big Data; we have a two-way communication with the user, which gives complete information of their demographics: What is he watching, from where is he watching, etc. This is very relevant information for a platform like ours if want to capitalise on advertising in the future. This also helps showcase the right kind of data to the right kind of audience.

How do you see the convergence of all major media tools today?
At the end, consumer consumes content; rest are just tools. Every media has its pros and cons. You can never replace TV viewing experience with anything. If I want to watch TV on my own convenience, then tools such as mobile DTH can help me and therefore, supplement my experience. These are ways by which I can improve the interactivity of the show.

Do you source your movie content from networks?
We talk to anybody and everybody who has internet content rights. It can be anybody from a channel to a producer to studios. We want to increase our movie offerings and we are in conversation with some studios.
 

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