Television

Future of Television

Circa 2061 - Television in its new form and shape, as a personalised medium will not just continue to exist and will be 130 years old, but would actually wield a true global power.

I truly believe that television will continue to play a critical role for India to emerge as a developed country and one of the top three economies of the world.

Two aspects are unlikely to change - human beings will continue to bear the same thirst for entertainment and

content will continue its reign as the real King....

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It is not easy to visualise where technology will take us in the future - but two aspects are unlikely to change - human beings will continue to bear the same thirst for entertainment and content will continue its reign as the real King.

Zee will be a leading brand for entertainment, education and a medium for prosperous growth for every Indian. Burt Manning, founder of J Walter Thomson said 40 years ago when he founded Media Lab at MIT, that the 21st century will all be about personalised segmentation of the media. We are heading towards relevant, curated content consumption. We will move from semantic web (web 2.0) to intuitive web (3.0) and finally to machine to machine talks (web 4.0).

At Zee, our global focus is to connect to every household, and offer relevant content, to keep them engaged. Having entertained over 670 million viewers worldwide, Zee is now marching towards reaching one billion viewers. We also aim at multiplying our productivity by many folds, in order to re-conquer our achievements in the last 20 years in merely eight years. With the swift pace, at which Zee as a brand is growing worldwide, it makes me extremely confident to state that by 2061, we would be amongst the top global media conglomerate, entertaining more than half of the total television viewers across the globe.

Zee is a pure family entertainment company. Three generations of a family can sit together and watch our programmes. We will continue in our endeavour for freedom, dignity and prosperity of our viewers and shareholders in the future. Zee as a brand, has achieved global recognition today, and has grown exponentially over the years, establishing a strong connect in the minds and hearts of its audiences globally and has gained a top of the mind recall in the media & entertainment space. Zee has been able to achieve all this through its people-centric programming and keeping its audience at the core of all its offerings.

Our pioneering vision, has led to the formation of a seven billion dollar industry in India, and has set a foundation for not just Indian, but many international media companies. ZEE being an Indian company, has ventured into the international markets and has earned a global recognition, unlike the international media brands which have ventured in Indian markets. This strong penetration in the global markets, and the immense high brand equity earned in the last 20 years, has taken Zee to the cadre of an emerging multinational. Leveraging its core expertise of a sharp insight in the audience pulse, Zee will continue with its string of innovations and industry firsts, enhancing the media & entertainment landscape by many folds.

Zee has been a social catalyst in TV programming and dramas, in less than 20 years. Although it surely happens at a subconscious level. When viewers watch middle class people achieve higher boundaries, they appreciate the quality of life. When they witness the rags to riches stories, they celebrate their belief in dreams and destiny.

In another decade or so, I still expect consumers to catch up with the linear TV content. Although there would be trends of short form content in terms of news, sports, entertainment, etc., but these would never fall in high content consumption patterns. The reason being that, largely depends on the consumers’ moods, their information seeking thirst and their desire to express on social media platforms. These traits are extremely high in the mornings and also in the later part of the evening time bands. Both these activities create a leap in short consumption of content. Even today, the specially created content on new media platforms is largely following traditional media content approach.

Introspecting the world of Television



Television is all about content - irrespective of the advancements from a technology perspective. It has surely transformed India in the last two decades and has effectively brought about changes to hearts and minds of millions. Zee would continue with the same zeal to play a catalyst in the transformation that not just India, but the rest of the world, will witness in the coming decades.

May be a decade later, i.e. 2020 onwards, we could expect consumers to express new moods and tastes, even when they are on the go, provided the mode of transport gets more comfortable. The content formats would also enjoy a deep paradigm shift, considering the change in consumption patterns. Just to cite some of the experimental content formats, which surely would evolve in the near future on the Non TV Screens - we could expect five to 15-minute comedy films, five-minute exposure slots (back to back new film promos), 30-minute documentaries and factual entertainment for students and business travellers, five-10 minute amateur content - short films, 60-second public service campaigns or five-10 minute highlights of sports, etc.

TV programmes are benefiting today from the consumer habits, values and lifestyles, and at the same time they are also power feeding new lifestlyes to the consumers.

Going forward, programming would be more inclined towards relevant issues and concerns, segmenting would

be the way forward...

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They need to evolve to a stage where they are able to predict modern India, or modern Indian lifestyles and possibly taking a position on almost all issues that affect society. Whether masses favour your position or stance, would not be that important, but a strong stance/positions will have to be taken. As of now, TV is aiming at making consumers happy with one set of generic content for all the viewers. However, going forward, when programming would be more inclined towards relevant issues and concerns, segmenting would be the way forward. So we might have a channel which only showcases modern value content, or a channel which showcases only non-fiction content, or a channel which showcases only current issues, and so on.

As television companies adapt to the internet by deciding which shows to offer for free online, internet users accustomed to free content, and the rhetoric that promotes it, have protested that shows should be supported with advertising alone. The problem is that in a world with a hundred channels - let alone a thousand websites - there may not be enough advertising to go around. That’s why, over the course of the 1990s, cable channels that once relied mostly on advertising tried to create hit shows or buy sports rights that would let them demand higher fees from cable companies. When cable channels started to invest in original shows, they did so very differently from traditional networks. Since networks only made money on advertising, they chose shows that would reach as large of an audience as possible, whether or not individual viewers felt strongly about them. Carriage fees gave cable channels a very different incentive: to develop programmes, some viewers cared about so much that they might cancel their subscriptions without them. Not only could channels show more adventurous fare - their success depended on it.

As we stand, we are on a brink of a revolution and convergence of television and new media platforms. We are heading towards people getting what they want, when they want, and how they want. Although it goes without saying that top quality content will be the king in the new world of TV convergence.

In my view, TV will woo audiences to interact with the programming. And viewers will not be satisfied on the one way communication and interact with TV.

A basic social media integration on the content distribution platform will bring in a whole new perspective to

the viewing experience...

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Unlike the pre-digitisation era, wherein there was just a monologue between the consumer and broadcaster, a more circular relationship is expected with real time communication, enabling consumers to express their feedback instantaneously. Also a basic social media integration on the content distribution platform will bring in a whole new perspective to the viewing experience.

Reality shows shall become more and more real and would almost touch the nature of a sports event. From the current era of scripted and fictionalized content formats, there would be a huge paradigm shift to much realistic shows. The only way they can sustain the attention of viewers is by revealing real pacer content and hence as much closer to something like sports content.

The industry is changing before our eyes and this kind of innovation creates winners and losers. No longer will consumers be forced to overpay for a one-size- fits-all bundle of channels and services.

As rightly put forth by Robert Levine, “In the digital world, television will be revolutionised once again”. Already, more viewers than ever are using their laptops to download and to watch shows they once saw on a TV screen. The problem is that even legal online services only generate a fraction of the revenue that cable does. Like newspapers, television channels are now reaching more viewers than ever before, but in a medium where they don’t like to pay for content and aren’t worth much to advertisers. And if more viewers begin “cord-cutting”- cancelling their cable subscriptions in favour of online options - it’s hard to see how television producers could avoid the same kinds of cost reductions that are killing newspapers.

We will be able to watch Live or On-Demand stations, either as merely stations or individual shows on home television sets, tablets, desktops or mobile phones.

Some screens may discontinue along the way, but there will be other screens that will emerge as life continues

to evolve...

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The rise of the DVR gave access to shows on the viewer’s timetable, and the explosion of apps are putting control in consumers’ hands - who can now watch anything, anytime, anywhere. Speaking of control, a number of new TV sets- turn viewers into a remote. A remote has a touch-sensitive track pad on one side, and a Qwerty keyboard on the other. An advanced version of the same remote functions like a magic wand, allowing TV watchers to move a pointer on the screen. On the other hand, some just function based on the movements of the viewers hands. Some very advanced sets, now have an in-built voice recognition

intelligence, enabling the viewers to literally dictate their search preference.

To summarise, I truly believe that TV will not die. At Zee, we no longer term ourselves as merely broadcasters, but “Content Creators” and will focus on reaching out to audiences at the end of any screen that they are available on. Some screens may discontinue along the way, but there will be other screens that will emerge as life continues to evolve.

I think there will be several technologies and platforms that are going to emerge that we have to consider and migrate. Ditto TV, which is Zee’s yet another pioneering step in the over the top television space, is something that we have foreseen and we do believe that it is going to be a big opportunity for us, in the years to come.

The future of television is all about viewers experiencing entertainment and information content on their preferred devices, time and place.

(Excerpted from the India 2061- A Look at the Future of India Copyright Cogito Consulting Publication) 

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