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India will shape mobile innovation: Ajit Mohan

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MUMBAI: The digital consumer is on his way to become the king of media and entertainment. It is he who will dictate future content trends, platform specifics and most importantly revenue flows. How can the vast media and entertainment ecosystem channelise its vision towards a sustainable revenue system reaping off the all encompassing digital landscape – overhauling payment gateways, broadband speed and consumer sensitisation?

Seeking answers to these questions, a panel discussion was held in FICCI Frames 2015 moderated by BBC Global News presenter Matthew Amroliwala. The panel comprised Star India digital head Ajit Mohan, Yahoo India MD Gurmit Singh, UCWeb India MD Kenny Ye and Airtel global voice and data business CEO and director Srinivasan Gopalan.

The digital platform is yet to have a concrete revenue model and most of the content available now is free content. Mohan said, “India is going to shape innovation in mobile and not the United States and hence we need to have our own model and cannot refer to any other. My observation is that consumers are underserved and they are absolutely ready for real and fresh content in the VOD platform. It is a mass market and quality content will find recognition and appreciation.”

Yahoo’s Singh added, “Yahoo is a 20 years old company that has seen technological evolution. Every 10 years, we have a new technology, which shapes the processing and the same will happen when 4G and 5G comes in. All the existing devices will talk to each other, complement each other and advertisers will have a choice of platform. The advantage of digital is that proper analysis can be done, which makes reaching the target audience easy and accurate. This will also ensure higher returns.”

Talking about the Indian circumstances, UCWeb India’s Ye said, “The government of India launched a digital India campaign, which is highly encouraging and mobile will play a very important role in making India digital. The revenue model is yet to be figured out and a lot of that will be decided by development in infrastructure in the near future. Better online payment infrastructure and more credit and debit card holders will make the revenue model easier.”

The online ventures need communications and carriers to carry the signal from provider to consumer. Airtel’s Gopalan asserted, “About 93 per cent of internet usage is in mobile and it’s high time that content makers and service providers collaborate in order to make things more efficient and revenue generating. We should bundle content and put it in a package for the consumers. And data is not expensive in India and it’s mobile data, which is expensive and there are different reasons behind it.”

Star India’s digital platform Hotstar was free and it got a lot of encouragement in terms of viewership. Commenting on the success of the venture, Mohan said, “Hotstar is not free. The content needs data and the consumers are paying premium rates to see content and hence the myth is baseless.”

It remains to be seen what revenue model the digital platforms accept and if the formula of content is king is followed.

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