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Broadcasters need to relook at content to cope with OTT platforms

OTT and TV going to co-exist at least for the next ten years

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MUMBAI: With the upsurge in demand for OTT platforms in India, the future of broadcasters has been debated much. TV still has enough headroom to grow thanks to underpenetrated households. While the players in the ecosystem firmly believe that TV is not going to die soon, they also think broadcasters need to rethink their content.

On the second day of FICCI Frames 2019, experts from the television and OTT industry discussed on ‘Dual Screen Addiction –Disruptive or Addictive! Will Broadcast and VoD Co-exist?’ It had panellists Star India Hindi GEC president and head Gaurav Banerjee, ZEE5 CEO Tarun Katial, Network 18 COO, A+E Networks MD Avinash Kaul, media veteran Raj Nayak, Netflix partnerships director Abhishek Nag, Hooq India MD Zulfiqar Khan, Vuclip country head Vishal Maheshwari and moderated by Balaji Telefilms group CEO Sunil Lulla.

Banerjee said they are in the business of curating stories where making purposeful stories is important. He thinks it should be left to consumers what stories they want to watch together and on which personal device.

Agreeing with Banerjee, Katial said, “It’s good to tell stories, eventually you have to make money and yes, we are all trying to monetise content in different formats. What OTT brings to the table is totally different from TV which is a high degree of personalisation and segmentation, and the ability to discover content at your own convenience. That’s not going away. Consumers are going to want more and more of that. I think we all say linear TV should stay, the convenience aspect of digital is huge.”

Lulla raised the question of how broadcasters should defend their turf with all these changes. Media veteran Raj Nayak said that he is a big believer that television is here to stay. He added that families in small towns, even today, sit together to watch TV in the evening. According to him, OTT and TV will co-exist in India at least for another ten years.

Banerjee also echoed Nayak’s view that OTT is not going to kill linear TV. According to him, three generations watching TV together and having a conversation is very important in Indian society. He added that TV consumption is only on the upward side in the country.

But Nayak also reminded the fact that amid ongoing changes in the ecosystem, consumers now compare the quality of TV and OTT content. Hence, Nayak thinks TV channels will have to course correct to give content on linear TV which is as compelling as OTT.

Hooq India MD Zulfiqar Khan added that streaming services have a direct connection with consumers which helps them to have great knowledge of consumer choice. On the other hand, linear TV has been a consumer facing brand but not consumer facing business. Hence, he said that at a content level as well as business level there has to be a rethink.

“The households not yet penetrated by TV will continue to be the main stake of linear TV. Most of it is coming from the northern and eastern parts of India. OTT and TV will obviously co-exist. The question is how they will compete with each other and take best practices from each other,” Kaul said while adding that OTT ‘s biggest advantage is its one-on-one relation.

Vuclip country head Vishal Maheshwari said India is the only country where broadcasters are so well organised on their OTT businesses. According to Katial, broadcasters created a catch-up content environment in the early days and went slow on premium content compared to platforms like Netflix.

The industry experts agreed that rather than having a debate about TV content and OTT content, the debate should be on linear and non-linear consumption and the need for compelling content.

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