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Vidnet2018: OTT industry says innovation the need of the hour

Indian market gives best opportunities for partnerships and collaborations

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MUMBAI: In the last couple of years, over-the-top platforms have emerged as mainstream entertainment source going beyond “mail-metro-millennial” phenomenon for a sizeable population in India despite television still holding its dominance.

The beauty of the Indian market is its diversity enabling opportunities for various business models and content in several regional languages along with Hindi and English. However, with the growth of the industry, new challenges in different areas including technology and regulations are cropping up. To delve deeper into the issues, experts across the entire ecosystem came together at Vidnet 2018 hosted by Indiantelevision.com powered by Verizon which had ZEE5 as title partner. The long day summit became a perfect stage to discuss relevant issues concerning the industry as well as to gain new insights.

At the beginning of the event, a very interesting session with Hulu Japan CCO Kazufumi Nagasawa moderated by Indiantelevision.com founder and CEO Anil Wanvari set the tone for the day. The spokesperson shared the state of Japanese OTT market which is super crowded as well. But in contrast to the Indian market, most players are focused on SVoD service in Japan. However, Hulu Japan stands with 1.8 million paying subscribers with more than 50,000 hours of content. The session was followed by Verizon Digital Media Services EMEA and India managing director Taylor Riese who also said they are listing the challenges in the market with infrastructure in India.

The attraction of the day was definitely the power packed session with speakers from the most popular OTT services and digital video platforms in India. ZEE5 India CEO Tarun Katial, Amazon Prime Video India business director and head Gaurav Gandhi, YouTube India entertainment head Satya Raghavan, Voot head marketing and partnerships Akash Banerji, Hotstar consumer and revenue lead Prabh Simran Singh shared their key learnings.

Gandhi debunking the myth that Indians don’t want to pay for digital content saying that if customers see value in product they won’t mind paying and Katial mentioned an important fact that content cost in OTT is not going to be same as TV. While the session was named as “lessons from battlefront”, all the experts more or less agreed that the Indian market gives best opportunities for partnerships and collaborations.

In another impacting session, Green Gold Animation founder and MD Rajiv Chilaka, Pocket Aces founder Ashwin Suresh, Contiloe founder Abhimanyu Singh from, SVF Entertinment president Ravi Sharma and Goldi Behel discussed the power of local storytelling. While five of them have been a part of the experience in creating versatile content targeting a particular audience, they highlighted how the time is perfect for content creators to be in the space owing to the new digital mediums. Applause Entertainment CEO Sameer Nair, another veteran in the production business, mentioned another important fact that content is not a commodity that someone can win with a price war, rather it has to be won with a good story.

Other than content, topics like the need for unified video measurement for better data was discussed in presence of IPG Mediabrands India CEO Shashi Sinha, MX Player CEO Karan Bedi, BARC India COO Romil Ramgarhia and Eros Now COO Ali Hussein.  Sinha said industry stakeholders need to arrive at a consensus for unified measurement to be a reality in India. Interestingly BARC India COO commented their technology is fully equipped to measure digital video.

Content is king but it cannot conquer customers alone if distribution is not well enough. Nowadays people watch OTT content via various devices including basics like smart TVs, smartphones. Telcos also bundle OTT apps with their services to acquire more consumers as well as make it easy for those platforms to spread out. Questions related to making better innovations in distributions were discussed by ALT Balaji COO Sunil Nair and Viu head monetisation and distribution Sameer Gogate.

Even the confab delved deep into the creator’s brains, tech strategies as various production houses, cloud servicing companies were also present in the conference to discuss their play. Ongoing issues like how to regulate OTT platforms were also discussed by two eminent lawyers, Abhishek Malhotra and Nidhish Mehrotra. Other industry stalwarts including Eros Now COO Ridhima Lulla, Hotstar EVP and chief marketing officer Sidharth Shakdher, Facebook entertainment partnerships head Saket Jha Saurabh, Arre co-founder and CEO Ajay Chacko, ZEE5 business head Manish Aggarwal, Vertice Entertainment founder and CEO Varun Mathur also shared key insights through different sessions.

Though the ecosystem is evolving, it will take more time to say what’s going to work or what not.

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