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Will mobile devices/alternate screens takeover television?

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In an age where the usage of connected devices is booming, it is a huge benefit for consumers to be able to watch content on alternate screens, alongside the conventional way, increasing the amount of overall content consumption in the Nation.

The alternate screens for a television viewing experience include Connected TVs, Internet Set-Top Boxes, Personal Computers, Smart-phones, Tablets and Smart Blu-ray players. Connected TVs (Smart TVs) are integrated with the internet, providing a technological convergence between computers and television sets/set-top boxes - these provide online interactive media, Internet TV, over-the-top content and on-demand streaming of media. Similarly, computers can also be used for streaming live television over the internet via websites. In the context of India, the use of mobile devices in the Nation has sky-rocketed, owing to the combination of inexpensive devices, low tariffs and the introduction of various applications, including those made particularly to stream television content such as Hotstar (Star TV) and most recently, VOOT (Viacom). Hotstar outdid apps such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to become the fastest to cross the million downloads mark within a week. VOOT is the only OTT player to start with original content from Day 1, which has specifically been made only for the digital platform itself.

With the advent of Netflix in India, we have the liberty to reap the benefits of the world’s top video streaming service, which allows users to watch content on various screens, now entering the Indian space with subscription for as low as Rs. 500. Globally, Netflix has been used extensively - with an average of 45GB of data consumed by their 20 million subscribers, across 130 countries per month. In the US, 36% of US homes are subscribed to the platform. In order to match increasing demands, Netflix pushed 329,400,000,000 GBs of data in 2015. Another factor that can be done away with whilst using alternate screens is to avoid watching advertisements; it was estimated that Netflix subscribers avoided watching 130 hours of commercials per year, by not watching broadcast TV.

Another powerful entrant providing 4G-based digital services with offers such as on-demand content and launching with 450 channels is Reliance JioPlay, with cutting edge features such as voice control and program catch-ups. Yet another introduction by one of the kingpins, Zee Entertainment, is OZEE, leaving consumers spoilt for choice with their video-on-demand platform, whereby the content of Zee channels is made available almost instantly, complementing the wave of viewers breaking away from appointment television. Collaboratively, there is much to look forward to in the realm that is Live TV on alternate screens of content consumption.

The success of these initiatives has come on the back of the increased usage of mobile devices and the internet; India currently has 980 million active mobile users, 171 million smart-phone users and 272 million wireless internet subscribers. To gauge an understanding of the current scenario of mobile usage around the world, the global internet average speed is supposedly 5.1 Mbps, with highest in South Korea at 23.6 Mpbs and 2.3 Mpbs in India.

A report by Ernst and Young expresses that Smart-phone penetration in the country is expected to grow to 520 million by 2020. To add to this this, the next phase of internet usage is expected to come from Tier II and Tier III cities, through wireless mobile internet. Basis the fact that Indian consumers have a significant inclination towards watching regional content, by 2020, of the 650 million internet users, 50-55 per cent are expected to be rural users, from the earlier 33% in 2013.

Pankaj Krishna, CEO & Founder of Chrome Data Analytics & Media, expressed his views, "Linear television continues to be the largest form of television viewing, in spite of technological advancements in the industry and alternate platforms to watch content, including tabs and mobile devices. They say old habits die hard; despite the paper and ink of newspapers being the costliest, they are still read as much as always - the same notion holds when it comes the conventional TV set. There are two qualities of viewing that one can choose - be it a 40" TV screen or a 5" tablet, the former is still as popular and, thus, may not be completely replaceable."

Thus, it is safe to say that omni-platform content is taking over the nation (and world) by storm, without greatly cannibalizing viewing through conventional television sets, but instead – increasing the usage of other forms of content distribution. This use of smaller screens will fuel watching content individually, with 45% of all content consumed expected to be on the small screen by the next four years. The question is whether the rise of these alternate platforms will eventually make a dent in conventional television content viewing, or not, in the years to come.

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