Industry needs to work together to ensure long term profitability: Uday Shankar

MUMBAI: The last ten years may be remembered as the glorious years for the Indian broadcasting industry, but concerns like creaking infrastructure, pressure on profitability, flawed measurement system, and the low level of innovation remain.

Star India CEO Uday Shankar said while speaking at the Ficci Frames that he believes the broadcasting industry will touch $10 billion in advertising while subscription revenue will be $5 billion by 2020, depending on how fast the industry cleans up.

Shankar started his keynote by citing a statement by the Supreme Court in 1995 on airwaves being public property. “Most people obtain the bulk of information on matters of contemporary interest from the broadcasting medium. Television is unique in a way in which it intrudes in our home… TV is shaping food habits, cultural values, social norms and the society in many ways,” the Court had said.

Shankar added that there are some positive factors that will lead to the growth of the industry, including the hunger for content, C&S penetration and DTH.

He said the viewing of Hindi general entertainment channels had increased 25 per cent in the last two years with the launch of four new channels and the average time spent had increased from two hours in 2007 to two hours forty five minutes in 2009. Though the figures are promising, these are still below the global average of 3.7 hours per day and US average of 5.1 hour per day.

“Approximately 50 million viewers from the D and E towns have been added in 2009. We have to know these consumers and cater to their needs,” Shankar said.

Shankar said gender myths are coming apart and more men are watching Hindi GEC, while more women are watching sports and convergence. 

On the DTH front, the industry has seen tremendous growth with 17 million subscribers being added in the last three years. The competition will push the cable to digitize faster and broadcasters will have non-linear and targeted delivery platform.

Summing up what the industry must do in the next 10 years, Shankar said investments should be made in innovation and differentiation across the value chain; scale should be build but not at the cost of loss-making monsters; direct connect should be created with the consumers and value unlocked in distribution; and industry should work together with the government to build a robust media environment.

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