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Vidnet’22: How OTT is accelerating tech infrastructure investments

The explosion in video content consumption is spurring the need for computing power in hardware.

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MUMBAI: How has the exponential growth in consumption of OTT content impacted the tech - especially hardware – infrastructure needs of those running streaming platforms or serving video entertainment to consumers?

That was the main question that was discussed during the tech session at the sixth edition of Indiantelevision.com’s pioneering Vidnet Summit held in end April. Titled Rise of Digital Revolution - Accelerated Growth Led by Disruptive Innovation in the world of OTT, the session featured Dell Technologies medium business leader Radhesh Shankaranarayanan, Sony Pictures Networks India head of Sony LIV Technology Manish Verma,  NXTDigital COO Rouse and Indian Television Dot Com founder, CEO & editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari as the moderator.

Ten years from now, this period will be called the digital revolution period across the globe, expounded Shankaranarayanan, referring to the industrial and information revolutions which transformed the world in every way in earlier centuries. “There was a pressure or push to move into digital before this, but the pandemic has actually accelerated the digital drive completely.”

Specifically pointing out to the media and entertainment ecosystem he opined that production houses have suddenly seen a huge amount of video content business flowing into them and, as a result, the  demand for Dell workstations and servers has  skyrocketed.

“Earlier this segment used to be very niche in terms of technology adoption, but today I have seen so many production houses mushrooming in the last couple of years,” he revealed. “I am currently talking to at least 400-odd production houses in the country- right from Delhi to Trivandrum. Hence we want to be as close to  content creation that’s happening. We are really keen on offering even more of them solutions which will help them keep pace with the burgeoning needs by offering them workstations with the fast video processing power they need.”

What demonetisation has done to the payment industry, I think the lockdown has done for the OTT industry, added SPNI’s Manish Verma.

“We have seen consumption increasing crazily during the lockdowns and it has essentially increased in three different areas. One is the premium VOD (video-on-demand) service, people have actually started paying for content where earlier they used to find means to not to pay. Second is sports, which is a very good driver of consumption for us, we offer multiple live sports. That’s where we have seen good consumption happening and that’s always been there.”

Third big area was interactivity- KBC Play along, wherein users can play the same KBC on their devices, while the show is on air, adds Verma. “All three areas require a lot of backend infrastructure, which has increased exponentially for us. We need to make sure that our backend infrastructure is scaled properly to handle the traffic, so that when concurrent users are coming in there is no latency.” 

Another phenomena that is happening is the shift in devices from personal mobile viewing patterns to consumption on bigger screens such as smart TVs for a better viewing experience, he noted.

NXTDigital’s Rouse Koshy offered his perspective on how his cable network was impacted on the tech infrastructure front by the increase in video consumption.

“The pandemic didn’t hit us as hard as these guys (OTT platforms) hit us!” he expressed. He went on to add that in the last one and a half year, the company started digitising and coming up with combo products such as broadband with video etc.

“Now in the last six months we have also started aggregating all OTT platforms and selling it as a bouquet.” This transformation is going to be a challenge, admitted Koshy as cable TV operators have a different mindset and to train them to transform is going to be a “humongous exercise.”

4K adoption will need to further demand for tremendous processing power houses of workstation going forward, noted Shankaranarayanan,  even as 8K is still distant.

“I am seeing this as another huge additional spend coming in hardware, software and cloud infrastructure along with 5G opening up a totally new experience,” he explained

Going forward, we see this trend of gaming and music, apart from entertainment genres as a part of OTT platforms, revealed Koshy, which would further accelerate hardware needs at the consumer end.

With 5G emerging, we will need to further scale up infrastructure, bandwidth requirement, affirmed Verma in response to Wanvari’s observation about the telecom spectrum transition happening globally which is expected to hit India in the next 12 months or so.

When it comes to Metaverse, it’s too early for us to say how it’ll take off, Koshy confessed, and whether it will end up as a fad. Shankaranarayanan was more optimistic about the surge in hardware infrastructure investments  that the metaverse era is going to bring with it. “The compute power is going to be huge, and for that the Dell  has products which can cater to the requirement so consumers can have a seamless experience,” he highlighted.

Watch the entire panel discussion on the Rise of Digital Revolution -  Accelerated Growth Led by Disruptive Innovation in the world of OTT by clicking on the link here: 

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