Digitalisation: Lack of exclusive content a hurdle

MUMBAI: With no exclusivity how is the switch to digital going to accelerate? “Work with what is available and offer the same content pitched on quality of service and creative and unique packaging of content, my dear fellow.”



That about paraphrases the general tenor of the discussion during the session afternoon session ‘Sizing up the promise of digital’ at the India Television Summit’ had the panelists (Reliance Infocomm President Prakash Bajpai, Tandberg Television Business Manager Simon Cothliff, Hathway CEO K Jayaraman, Tata Sky CEO Vikram Kaushik, Dish TV CEO Sunil Khanna, Indusind Exec Director Ashok Mansukhani and NDS AsiaPac GM Sue Taylor) discuss the various challenges and opportunities that content distributors faced and whether and how technology would help address them.

Among the points that came across were that the consumer is not overly concerned with what access technology is used, what is important is the content, the way it is packaged and how and when it is made available that matters.

Talking on various delivery pipes, Reliance’s Bajpai pointed out that there were several different ways of going about it but admitted that the Indian market reality was that it was an extremely difficult proposition, whichever route was adopted.

Bajpai touched upon broadband, 4gen Wimax, power Lines (through BSES), pipes getting bigger, content getting smarter, among other things.

Questioned about Reliance’s own DTH plans, Bajpai admitted that there were some ideas on the table but more in the concept stage at present. What Bajpai emphasized on was that “There is no one single format that we are going with. Addressing different market segments with different formats (is our gameplan).”

Speaking about the experience of Dish TV in rolling out its services, Sunil Khanna made an interesting observation. Which was that the Doordarshan’s efforts at educating the public about its DTH offering DD Direct Plus also gave a significant push to Dish TV’s own uptake of subscriptions. An indication of the largely unleveraged power the national broadcaster has at its disposal.



Hathway’s Jayaram pointed out that one major impediment for MSOs to digital in the absence of CAS was that one could not offer exclusive niche content, so there was no real differentiator in terms of content to what was available via analogue.

Hinduja TMT’s Ashok Mansukhani in amnner of speaking threw the gauntlet at wannabe DTH operators by asserting, “I think that cable will grow and will grow more. There are still 60 million more (homes) to reach out to. Cable will rule the waves for the next 10 years at least.”

Jayram, however, saw DTH entry as a trigger that would make the cable frat make the switch to digital as a mechanism to confront the competion the new delivery medium offered. “Personally at Hathaway we feel that DTH will take off well,” said Jayaraman.

Meanwhile, Tata Sky’s Vikram Kaushik said, “I think DTH will be an attempt at a structured change in the Indian media environment. We need to be modest in our expectations though – and expect more in the medium and long term rather than short term.”

“We need to be basic here. TV is about entertainment. There has been no innovation in the past 20 years in which people get that entertainment. That entertainment has to be made more entertaining with interactivity to enable more possibilities.

“Rather than a fine niche, we need to provide better entertainment at better costs to a mass audience.”

According to Kaushik, “The inherent advantages that DTH offered would be choice, control and interactivity."

NDS’ Sue Taylor commented, “Costs of customer acquisition are too high, interactivity helps in retention. PVR is a global trend and will come into India sooner than later.”

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