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IDOS 2017: OTT is here to stay but may not replace pay TV

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NEW DELHI: The over-the-top (OTT) medium is here to stay and cannot be put down, but the television medium will continue to survive in the face of this challenge in India.

The stressful life of today and the relationship built by the local cable operator are other reasons for the survival and well-being of the television medium. These were some of the views expressed at a discussion on the OTT Challenge to Pay TV at the Indian Digital Operators Summit organised by indiantelevision.com and moderated by the latter's founder, CEO and editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari.

Viacom 18 Digital Ventures' senior vice-president and head of marketing Akash Banerji said that OTT would fundamentally change the scenario but admitted that “we over-estimate the short term, and under-estimate the long term." He felt that the impact of OTT on pay TV may begin to show some change by 2020-21, but not immediately.

Clearly, he said, some disconnect with the cable operators had led to the growth of OTT. Secondly, OTT was providing the content relevant to the individual viewer. Thirdly, he said that Viacom 18 was for the first time indulging in a B2C model where the consumer had the last word. He, however, admitted that the long-term survival of OTT lay in the medium moving to a subscriber-based scenario.

Shaji Mathews, who has recently joined as the CEO of Kerala Cable Communicators in Kochi, said that OTT was no challenge, and (on the contrary) it would augment TV. He was confident that wired technologies will continue to dominate even as wireless technologies attempt to make inroads.

He also felt that there was no level playing field for OTT at present, and so growth will take time.

DEN Networks CEO S N Sharma said that the MSOs had entered the field of OTT in an attempt to provide a platform to various OTT players only to reach the consumer, realising that the consumer habits are changing. DEN had made inroads as far as fee-to-air OTT was concerned, and was only amalgamating the OTT players. The aim was to move with technology.

Ashok Mansukhani of Hinduja Media Group admitted that OTT was a gigantic disruptor of the entire value chain but felt it would take some years to make inroads.

Vynsley Fernandes of CastleMedia felt that the growth of OTT would largely depend on who has the TV remote in the home.

Sisir Pillai of Lukup Media was confident that whatever the medium, it would survive if it had adequate content.

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