Digital: A complement or challenge for existing platforms?


MUMBAI: FICCI Frames 2015 laid the stage for a open discussion on the 360 degree disruption, which the digital ecosystem has effected upon the entertainment sector. The session also had panelists analysing future and current trends in the digital business in order for these platforms to become growth drivers in truest sense. The emergence of the digital platform can become a threat to the other established platforms as all the platforms share the same source of revenue.

The session was moderated by Filmkaravan founder Pooja Kohli and the panel comprised producer and actor Abhay Deol, Tata Sky chief content and business developing officer Paolo Matteo Agosstinelli, Facebook Wallla president Eric St. Anthony Pence and LA digital media advisor James Veraldi.

Supporting the theory that content is king, Agostinelli said, “The emergence of the digital platform is not a threat but an opportunity for the enterprises willing to serve creative content. We are here to deliver content and sensible content in any platform will find relevance and generate revenue. We have to put efforts in understanding the change in behaviour and nature of our target audience and adapt as per need. The millennium youth in India is an encouragement for content makers and we have to utilise that by providing captivating content.”

Technology is evolving with time and the existing platforms are challenged by the new ones. The battle for the old ones is to still be relevant. Commenting on the evolution, Veraldi said, “DVD came into existence in 1999 and saw huge success till 2005. Now the digital platform is growing and is poised to grow even bigger. There are various platforms that enable creators to deliver content and the challenge is in finding a way to monetise those platforms. If we keep earning money and devote it on quality content and the demand of consumer is taken care of, the new revolutions won’t make a difference. The biggest challenge is not how you adapt with the emerging challenge but is to keep meeting the demand of audience.”

Digital has given unconventional content makers a platform to exhibit their excellence and offer new options to the audience. Traditional content finds producers easily, while the out of the box or breaking stereotype concepts are portrayed as risky. Hence financiers more often avoid such risks. Moreover global distribution of content is another tough challenge, which finds digital as a big solution.

Deol produced movie One By Two was released on the internet for global audience the same day as it was released in Indian theatres. “I was sure of the fact that I won’t manage to get screens abroad but at the same time I also wanted the audience to have the option of watching the content and that’s when I took the decision of launching it online. The other reason was that whenever I have been to United States, I saw the willingness in people to see the unconventional but the option was not available for them. They used to ask me why we can’t make more unconventional content. When a theatre is three hours away and the pirated DVD seller is nearby, people opt for the pirated version but when we gave the same person option of watching it online by paying certain premium, they opted for it. That’s the beauty of the digital platform,” said Deol.

While Pence was of the opinion that change complements other existing platforms. “The digital platform will complement the existing ones and the biggest beneficiary of that will be consumers. Every platform will try to provide as high quality content as possible and that’s the best part. With development of bandwidth and online payment infrastructure digital will grow but the traditional platforms will co-exist.”

While the number of smartphone user is an encouragement for the digital platforms, low bandwidth and high tariffs are the major challenges that the venture has to tackle.

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