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Jio GigaFiber launch, Broadband disruption to boost content consumption on smart TVs

There is scope for both opportunistic and strategic partnerships.

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MUMBAI: Devices are gradually taking up more space in the discussions of OTT transformation. Although the Indian audience is more inclined towards mobile devices, experts from the industry think the smart TV uptake will increase drastically once Jio GigaFiber is launched. OTT platforms and content creators are increasingly relying on partnerships, both strategic and opportunistic, as they are the need of the hour.

At the stage of OTTv Mumbai 2019, Republic TV digital revenue head Varun Mohan, The Viral Fever OTT project head Vinay Pillai, Immersive Media Consultant Clyde DeSouza and Elara Capital vice president research Karan Taurani participated in a panel discussion on how device and TV app partnerships impact growing customer base. The session was moderated by Simplicity Communications CEO Ajitabh Dutta.

The moderator kick-started the panel with the topic of Indian consumers being more mobile-centric. Taurani spoke of three main reasons why smart TV uptake has not picked up in the country. The first reason he pointed out was the cost of affordability. While Indians can buy a smartphone for Rs 5000 to Rs 10,000, smart TVs were an expensive proposition until Xiaomi came into the market. He also added that the personalised experience gives mobile an edge over TV.

Currently, data and infrastructure issues are preventing the growth of OTT content consumption on smart TVs. Taurani pointed out that the bandwith required for viewing content on TV compared to mobile is almost two-three times and this problem can be solved by the launch of Jio GigaFiber. Moreover, he also stated that 80-90 per cent of content made for Indian audiences does not require smartphones. According to him, until and unless platforms create shows like Game of Thrones, Sacred Games etc., the habit of watching content on smart TV won’t grow.

TVF’s Pillai also spoke along the same lines. He said every content creator wants his show to be consumed on the large screen. If someone is watching a series on TV, the chances of finishing it and picking up a new one are higher. But while everybody wants to get there, unless broadband starts competing with mobile data, that’s not going to happen. According to him, the moment someone disrupts broadband smart TV, traffic will pick up.

Talking about partnerships with devices, Varun Mohan said OEMs like Xiaomi and Samsung are also very important. He said while Republic reached about 135 million watch mintues on Election 2019 counting day.

He also spoke on the nature of partnerships they did with OTT platforms after one year of the channel’s launch. According to Mohan, all the partnerships were strategic ones and not transient. The availability of its content on SonyLIV, Hotstar, ZEE5 helped them to expand the reach and supplement the viewership on TV. While on linear TV they target 35+ to 60 age group, on digital they target the younger age group of 18-35.

Mohan went on to add that these strategic partnerships are win-win for both the parties. However, as for ROIs, he said no one exactly knows the time frame for that in the industry although there is optimism about the future.

On the other hand, Pillai was of the opinion that everything can't be strategic. It can be either strategic or opportunistic. "The primary driver for that is if they are letting us build something on the platform. For example, Facebook and YouTube partnerships are strategic ones. You have a lot of control over data and where we take them next. After developing 20 million viewership on YouTube for a show, we can say this is only available at TVF play now. There won’t be any problem from YouTube,” he said.

DeSouza, on the other hand, highlighted a very important point that partnerships should be built with someone who can give a platform to build a community. Taurani added that the platforms make a very minuscule amount of money out of these partnerships. He added that while these partnerships are important right now, the same model can’t go on forever. 

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