Digitisation Begins 2013: Can TV revenues be increased through VAS?

By Satrajit Sen , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | January 24, 2013
As soon as the broadcaster gives value to the consumer, monetisation will become easier.

Vanita Kohli-Khandekar

Shabir Momin

Colonel K K Sharma

Sugato Banerji

Tony D'Silva

Speaking in a panel discussion titled 'The Back Enders' at 'Digitisation Begins', an event on digitisation and its implications organised by afaqs! at the ITC Sheraton in New Delhi, panellists discussed how the television industry will need to work in tandem to increase revenue through value added services on mobile (VAS) or other formats.

The panel was moderated by Vanita Kohli-Khandekar, contributing editor, Business Standard. The panellists were Colonel K K Sharma, chief editor, Cable Quest magazine; Sugato Banerji, COO, What's-on-India; Tony D'Silva, president, Hinduja Venture; and Shabir Momin, managing director, Zenga.

Presenting his thoughts, Momin said that broadcasters are not realising that in a company like Zenga, where the entire environment is online, the content creators get more consumers through the platform. "The broadcasters have to open their eyes a little wider and understand that this is not going to cut into their revenues. Broadcasters shouldn't shy away from putting content on such platforms as very soon, the TV industry will become a genre-based industry. The user-generated content (UGC) segment will also come up," added Momin.

Col Sharma was of the view that "broadcasters have to invest on having a multi-platform presence where a woman can watch her favourite programme on mobile TV in the kitchen," he said.

Speaking about the impact of digitisation on consumers and how they would react to VAS, Banerji said that most of the consumers don't know what channels their household watches. "There are people who only remember one number that takes him to one particular channel and may be two buttons up or down to some other channel. Content discovery is what operators need to work on. In a part of Chittaranjan Park in Delhi, people pay extra money to get Bengali channels, and no one is looking at monetising the already existing content," Banerji added.

Taking this point forward, D'Silva said that in the entire digitisation process, one forgets that the broadcaster, the government, the MSO and the distributor are the key elements in the value chain. "I can't find a milestone where we can say that we have achieved success for all parts of the eco-system. Today, a cable operator knows well how to carry out a B2B business model but they fail in a B2C situation," he said.

He added that the struggle to transform from the analog to the digitised model is still on. "We can only think of more value added services after digitisation is achieved completely. As soon as the broadcaster gives value to the consumer, monetisation will become easier," Col Sharma opined.

D'Silva was also of the view that the consumer didn't transform out of choice, he was forced to do so and hence he should be given the time to settle down with the new process of surfing channels. "Over a period, monetisation, as far I can see, is a very simple process. But the execution part of digitisation can hamper the monetisation. In Mumbai today, entertainment tax per consumer in Rs 45. This is not justified. This can harm the broadcaster as consumers wouldn't be interested to explore further services," he added.

The event was partnered by MediaPro and TheOneAlliance.

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