OTT players stress the need to create massy content for robust future at Vidnet 2019

Piracy is another issue that they are combating


MUMBAI: The ‘Business and Tech Track’ of the fourth edition of Indiantelevision.com’s two-day-long video and content conclave, Vidnet, became a raging success with some of the most successful and powerful names from the digital video industry coming together and highlighting the challenges and opportunities that they are dealing with right now. A special screening of “The Hitler Chronicles: Blueprint for Dictators” and “The Bisexuals” was also organised for the attendees. 

Organised on the first day of Vidnet 2019, parallel to a ‘Creators Track’, the ‘Business and Tech Track’ hosted a number of panel discussions and fireside chats to present an in depth image of the functioning of the video ecosystem.

The proceedings of the day were opened by a powerful speech by Indiantelevision.com founder, CEO, and editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari who discussed about the challenges that the current OTT ecosystem is facing ranging from getting users to subscribe to preventing piracy. He urged those present in the audience to work on more massy content to create and support robust businesses for the future.

The first item on the agenda was a panel discussion titled “Making Indian Entertainment Great”, which highlighted some of the constraints that shroud the video industry, ranging from the technological to the artistic aspects of the business. On the panel were Zee5 India head-AVOD, SEO, news & stories Yogesh Manwani, Sony Pictures Networks India business head-digital Uday Sodhi, Viacom18 business head-digital AVOD ventures Akash Banerji, Viu India country head Vishal Maheshwari, Balaji Telefilms group COO and Alt Balaji CEO Nachiket Pantvaidya, and HOOQ India’s managing director Zulfiqar Khan. The session was moderated by Nepa India’s managing director Esha Nagar. 

The panel also insisted that there is a need to create more regional and massy content by OTT platforms to create a better ecosystem. They also pressed the need for better investments in technology. 
Khan revealed that his company is shifting focus to more AI-led content and ventures. He said, “We hope to be the first platform to have fully machine-dubbed localisation of content.” 
Following this was a presentation by Think Analytics SVP Richard Dowling on “The Power of Personalised Search and Recommendations.” Dowling shared a few case studies from his firm as he talked about how personalised content can help in gathering better audience.

Next on the list was another panel discussion on “Captive Audience of the Telecom Trace” between ZEE5 Global chief business officer Archana Anand, IndiaCast Media Distribution group CEO Anuj Gandhi, Apalya Technologies founder and CEO Vamshi Reddy, Lionsgate MD south asia Rohit Jain, Shemaroo Entertainment COO digital Zubin Dubash, and Hungama Digital COO Siddhartha Roy, moderated by Elara Capital VP – research analyst (media) Karan Taurani.

The panel unanimously agreed that getting associated with telcos can help OTT platforms in getting more audience, however, the challenge of who owns the consumer will remain for the foreseeable future.

“I don’t believe there is a better platform than telcos. Direct carrier billings allow the consumers to stay confident. It also allows us the marketing might. They really help us find our audiences,” Anand said.

Reddy also noted, “Telcos bring in a universal and seamless experience across content. The consumer doesn’t have to go to 10 platforms and enjoy the experience. Eventually it should evolve into a payment mechanism.”

Zubin Dubash noted that this association between platforms and telcos is going to go on as the core of this partnership for telcos is not to own the content but to increase the guzzling of mobile data.

Afterwards, NAGRA product line management director Diroshan Ratnarajah gave an interesting presentation on “Combating OTT Streaming Piracy”. He outlined some pressing and pertinent problems that exist in the online video space, which can impact the monetisation as well as content discovery process on streaming platforms.

He highlighted that fighting piracy will require a joint effort from all the players in the industry and development of robust, scalable, and high-performance security platforms.

The proceedings of the day were taken forward by a panel of ZEE5 India head technology Tushar Vohra, Hoichoi TV technology head Aloke Majumder, ErosNow CTO Lokesh Chauhan, NAGRA product line management director Diroshan Ratnarajah, and MX Player chief of product, tech and operations Vivek Jain, moderated by Castle Media CEO Ru Ediriwira.

They discussed about “The Challenge of Content Protection” in the new age media scenario. The panel agreed that there is a need for the whole ecosystem to come together to fight the menace of piracy as it might only increase with robust changes happening in the system. They also talked about the importance of fingerprinting of content.

Vohra said, “We need to get together because the lines are really blurring. As now there are new business models, content producers are being paid on the basis of number of streams and number of minutes watched.”
Jain insisted that enforcement of piracy laws in India needs improvement so that not only can pirated content be identified easily but also pulled down immediately.

The “Business and Tech Track” of Vidnet 2019, continued post-lunch, with a fireside chat between Indiantelevision.com founder, CEO, and editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari, and Viacom18 Digital Ventures COO Gourav Rakshit. The duo discussed how the nature of the content in India is evolving with the audience sensibilities.

Following it was panel discussion on “Fine-tuning Models of Monetisation and Consumer Engagement”. On the stage were Vimmi co-founder and co-CEO Eitan Koter, ALTBalaji SVP and head marketing Divya Dixit, Google industry head-media and entertainment Sandeep Ramesh, MX Player SVP and revenue head Virat Jit Singh, Merkle Sokrati SVP Sampath Rengacheri, and myNK co-founder Deepak Jayaram. The panel was moderated by PwC India partner and advisory leader entertainment, media, and sports Raman Kalra.

The panel discussed the different opportunities and challenges that AVOD and SVOD mode of subscriptions come with and what role does technology, content, and telcos play in the system. This panel also indicated that a massy approach to content generation will help in driving better revenues.

Next in line was a fireside chat between Amazon Prime Video head of India originals Aparna Purohit and moderator The Linus Adventures founder and chief evangelist Sunil Lulla who talked about how Amazon Prime India is working towards improving content on the platform.

Purohit shared that it is the best time for writers as well as actors and directors to be in the industry as not just Prime but all other platforms are looking for good stories to be told. 
It was followed by a short Q&A session with the cast of MX Original series, produced by Applause, ‘Hello Mini’—Gaurav Chopra and Anuja Joshi. The duo not only talked about the show but also unveiled its official trailer.

The day ended with a screening of “The Hitler Chronicles: Blueprint for Dictators”, and “The Bisexuals”, which were first telecasted on Hulu, by myNK co-founder Deepak Jayaram. 

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