Technology

India to see 50% growth in digital TV within 5 years: Dilip Venkatraman

MUMBAI: India will see a 50 per cent growth in digital TV in the next five years, said CNN-IBN CEO Dilip Venkatraman at the BroadcastAsia 2011 International Conference in Singapore.


Venkatraman noted that what is being seen today is a convergence of TV, film, print Internet and mobile content. "Platforms to showcase content have changed from the Internet to the hand phone and currently convergence is available on the tablet", he added.


"Amid concerns, all forms of media have survived after two decades and newspapers too exist. No new platform is cannibalising the other‘s space. Handheld devices are, however, the preferred delivery platform. With increasing engagement possible, the speed of convergence has increased with the increase of delivery platforms and increase in bandwidth", Venkatraman asserted.


Venkatraman cautioned that broadcasters cannot limit themselves to only TV or 3D/HD today. "They have to be able to reach the masses on every platform. Is it the future of Broadcast TV or is it the future of TV broadcast?" he asked.


Besides, broadcasters will need to produce content, which will be platform agnostic and available for all platforms of delivery. Viewers want continuity, to view the same content from one device to another, seamlessly. There is a need for a universal video format which will work everywhere i.e. content needs to be simultaneously created for multiple platforms simulcast to serve any viewer across all the delivery platforms.


"The content creators and owners, broadcasters and the various platforms for delivery must come together and have a universal format and codec created to ensure the viewers have this seamless experience", Venkatraman advised.


 
 
 
Venkatraman underlined that viewers can now pay and download content or have anytime viewing of what they want to watch and when they want to watch as per their convenience.


The content will now be a collection/playlist available to the viewer to pick and choose from. The viewer will choose from the content cloud but view it on the platform of his choosing. "When one talks of different mediums -TV, tablet, internet, computer or the phone … different sets of viewers will have different favourites, but the content owners have to serve all of them", he claimed.


"This is the future that the broadcasters, content owners and platform developers have to be ready for. Broadcasters are now catching up to the HD hardware, most already have, others will soon", Venkatraman warned.


Moreover, content producers and broadcasters have to keep evolving along with the hardware and the new platforms available. Converting existing content is not the answer; when it is produced, the content should be available at the same time on multiple platforms.


"Viewers are already coming out of preferences for a single source be it TV, computer, DVD or TiVo -- broadcasters have to be platform agnostic to meet the viewers who already are", Venkatraman advised.


Venkatraman explained his vision of what the future for broadcasters looks like. It is a content cloud formed by all the shows, movies, etc. produced across the world (in a single format or using a single codec), read by devices using the universal codec making the content available across platforms reaching a viewer who has one, a few or all of these platforms to choose from.


Furthermore, Venkatraman clarified that in a way there is a direct connect between the content producers and the viewers. "In this scenario, maybe there will be no need for the broadcasters. The universal video format and codec is the future that will ensure everyone remains in play", he says.


"There will be no need for conversion from one format to the other … no barrier between platforms. All content that is produced will be ready for play on any format. Competition will be truly based on quality of content and not on availability. But everyone has to come together to make this the reality especially broadcasters and platform owners … who will have to work together to make this possible", Venkatraman envisioned.


"The barriers between different formats have to be pulled down. The challenge is for different stakeholders to work together. The question is can there and should there is a single format for all devices and can the broadcasters produce in this format", Venkatraman speculated.



Venkatraman states, "The future tends to look more and more in favour of unicast. … individual viewers demanding and downloading specific content. This raises questions about whether this will make the broadcasters‘ schedules irrelevant. Will it matter when or whether a specific TV channel schedules a show? Will the viewer need to wait for that specific time or cable service?"


"Are we looking at a future with content stores that mirror the app stores of today? Will the viewer not be able to have a playlist that not only contains songs and videos but also TV shows and movies? Will there be a better and more improved apple TV that will replace broadcasters?" Venkatraman questioned.


All this also raises the question of monetisation. A quantum leap in DRM will be needed to keep pace with the way viewers are consuming content and the plethora of devices available.


In this area too, collaboration between platforms and broadcasters is vital to ensure the revenue streams from this new method of consumption.


"Revenues will be a function of how and how much you charge for shows, time slots and individual properties instead of the subscription for entire channels", Venkatraman concluded.

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