FICCI-Frames 2018 had a panel that included industry stalwarts - Raj Nayak, COO Viacom18; Partho Dasgupta, CEO, BARC India; Ajit Mohan, CEO, Hotstar; MK Anand, MD and CEO, Times Network; Anuj Gandhi, CEO Indiacast; Ashish Pherwani, Partner EY; and media veteran Amit Khanna. The topic of discussion was "Future of TV in India". Senior M&E professional, Paritosh Joshi, was in charge of steering the discussion.
Partho Dasgupta got the ball rolling by depicting the opportunity that TV has today. He said that 87 per cent of urban India consumes TV programming while the number is only 57 per cent in rural parts of the country. According to his estimate, about 780 million people access television on a regular basis.
It is the rise of digital that brought a topic like the future of TV in India up for discussion in a convention like FICCI Frames and Ajit Mohan, representing Hotstar, was expected to shed light on how digital is more effective than TV; he instead backed TV content. He feels that the perception - TV-type of content won't work on digital - is "untrue". Sharing his experiences with Hotstar, he mentioned that a good number of people access TV content on digital platforms. He also said that if the content is good, people in India are willing to pay for it, but according to him, both advertising and subscriptions are equally important sources of revenue.
Anuj Gandhi, representing the distribution fraternity, in his remarks, mentioned that content has always been the factor which drives distribution and the consumer today is platform agnostic. He believes people will continue to consume television content and the consumption will grow, the pipe through which TV content is distributed to them could be Linear TV, digital, YouTube, Facebook or any other technology that might be developed later on.
Raj Nayak was also on the front foot; he started by saying that the future of TV in India is bright and the young generation is still very much a TV consumer, the going-away perception is actually a "myth", according to him. He also backed the TV-type of long-form content and said people consume it on larger screens via digital too.
MK Anand spoke about the ease of doing broadcast business in India today. He cited the example of the Mirror Now launch and how Times had spent only 55 per cent of what a normal channel launch would cost. Anand thinks that would not have been possible three years ago. According to him, digital growth has empowered broadcast businesses today by providing quality bandwidth and better connectivity among other things.
Overall all the panellists were quite upbeat about the future of TV in India.