With Jio Fiber and Airtel Xstream, the M&E industry is at a crossroads right now. With converged television and digital entertainment poised to make a splash, Sonam Saini gets experts to debate on whether these entrants are a threat to traditional distribution players.
By Ashish Pherwani
While smart and connected television sets have been around for some years now, a large-scale proliferation will have much impact on the entertainment and video ecosystem. Firstly, we can expect that digital content will be increasingly viewed on larger screens, particularly by premium customers, providing a boost to both advertising and subscription OTT models.
Secondly, content consumption patterns on connected TVs will start to mirror those on the smaller screens (the phone). The larger screen could be used for gaming, social media and even chat/video calls. This could impact the proportion of content provided by traditional broadcast companies on the TV screen, and make way for a new set of content producers/aggregators to connect directly with TV audiences.
Thirdly, to manage all the content, the customer-facing "unified interface" will become the most premium media real estate and could change the dynamics of the value chain. Recommendation, marketing, data and distribution partnerships will become even more crucial. All this has consequences around advertising to premium audiences. On the distribution side, most large distribution companies today have (or have planned) broadband services, and they would need to segment their customer bases into premium OTT consumers and traditional TV consumers. Will traditional TV die? Of course not! But customer segmentation will be key.
(The author is Partner and M&E Leader, EY India)
By Paritosh Joshi
The home was, is and will be the greatest battleground for connectivity. Back in the early 1990s, the early cable operators began to Cat5 (Category 5 cable) into consumer homes and deliver limited, low fidelity content using analogue technology. Before this, barring terrestrial television and basic telephony, both quite poorly penetrated, the home was an island. Cable opened eyes, and homes, for a rapidly growing and constantly mutating range of services and experiences. The great foray of the big telcos into the connected home is scarcely new news: they have been developing their capabilities and access steadily for the last decade. The change is only in magnitude and battle readiness.
Experience from other markets suggests that legacies cannot be easily shaken off by the latest shiny tech, no matter how tantalising. Cable and DTH have had decades to familiarise consumers with their products, services and pricing models. People who were in their teens back in the early '90s are in their 40s, so familiarity, rather than the brute force of pricing power, will play a big role in connectivity choices.
While the new King Kongs may believe in their own invincibility, they are likely to come up short when confronted with the reality of resistance to change.
(The author is Principal, Provocateur Advisory)
By Anand Bhadkamkar
Bundled services like Jio Giga Fiber and Airtel Xstream will make content consumption seamless for users but the cost element could be a deterrent. In India, an average household spends four-five hours watching television every day. An equivalent watch time on the internet will entail around 120-150 GB of data consumption per month, for which a consumer would need to pay data charges. Reliance Jio has not addressed this cost element aggressively.
For distribution, besides the OTT platforms, Reliance Jio is offering channels to customers through its LCO partners such as Hathway and Den Networks on its set-top boxes for better distribution and reach. Airtel is also broadcasting DTH, IPTV and OTT content through its Xstream smart box. Going forward, we will see more such consolidation in the industry, so that existing viewers of DTH and cable operators would have a seamless experience.
Also, due to the NTO (New Tariff Order), broadcasters would not be providing different plans to Jio or Xstream to broadcast these TV channels through FTTH services. Television consumption behaviour is unlikely to change immediately; this would be a gradual process as Jio and Airtel scale up their operations. Furthermore, the impact on DTH and cable operators will also be gradual.
(The author is CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network India)