The million dollar question: will the Internet wipe out television?

For quite a while, the debate has been on about the Internet taking over the power of its elder brother, television. At the recent, Verge Digital Summit organised by OgilvyOne Worldwide, throws light on that concern, and its probable solution

“There was a time when we felt that the cinema had died, due to the advent of television. But despite having a hundred television channels, cinema is still quite popular,” said Dalip Sehgal, executive director, new ventures and marketing services, HLL. The occasion was the OgilvyOne digital summit, Verge, where the attendees were faced with the topic that probably makes most marketers question their media planning: will the Internet do to television, what television did to radio?

Commenting on this, Sunil Lulla, CEO, Times Global Broadcasting Co. says, “With hundreds of radio stations ready to be launched across India, one can’t even say that radio is dead, leave aside television.”

Lulla, who has worked had also launched a dotcom during its boom days before moving back to television industry, says, “There are certain aspects which indicates that Internet still has a long way to go. First is that the size of internet in India is still limited. Due to which no original content is available on Internet. In addition, broadband is still not available in most part of the country which can boost the growth of Internet in the country.”

On the contrary, Lulla is of the opinion that India has a society where people like to do things together, which is again possible on television. Internet on the other hand is very personal.

He said, “Families usually like to sit down and watch television together. We are an expressive society, which in a way is a barrier to changing people’s habits, as far as the Internet is concerned.”

L Subramanyan, president and publishing director, Jasubhai Digital Media, said that this discussion is validated if India is divided into two broad markets. One that belongs to the metros, which only includes the nine top cities in the country, rest is the rural India.

According to Subramanyan, television is still the single most entertaining media in rural India, while net can be used to seek growth in other fields such as education, and information.

He said, “If at all there is a possibility of Internet replacing television, it could be the urban India.”

Subramanyan cited the example of the gaming magazine Skoar, which has its 100 percent subscription, from the four cities, and most of them do not watch television.

Sehgal of HLL hinted that this urban-rural divide was already on its way to being dealt with. He spoke about an initiative by HLL called ‘I-Shakti’, which is an internet kiosk based offering. It is a community led portal that provides information on matters such as health, entertainment, education and social issues.

“In the markets where we operate with ‘I-Shakti’, around 80 per cent of households have at least one member who has signed up for ‘I-Shakti’.”

Sehgal then stressed on his main point: that over the next few years, Internet will gain tremendous importance. “In such a case, the issue isn’t whether the Internet is a threat to television. The real issue is how marketers will deal with the convergence of media, which is bound to happen in the future,” he said, adding a whole new perspective to the debate.

Jonathan Baron, regional director, sales, MSN, Asia Pacific, stated clearly: “The Internet will not kill television.”

He elaborated by saying that the world has been changing and will continue to change. He said that with the evolution of new age technologies such as wireless and broadband, what really matters is how a marketer captures consumer trust and delivers a message that is relevant to the consumer.

“And this is especially so, considering the fact that consumers are bombarded with so many messages throughout the day,” he added. Baron concluded by hinting that search marketing on the Internet is probably one of the ways to connect effectively.

Sehgal too showed some statistics, which highlight the growing prospects of the Internet as a medium. According to him, 20 per cent of Dove users, 17 per cent of Pears users and 16 per cent of Axe users are net-savvy. Subramanyan agreed, saying that the Internet offers an instantaneous benefit, as compared to television.

Lulla pointed out an interesting note. He hinted that television broadcasters are some of the biggest advertisers on the Internet. “This is because they know that a lot of their viewer base has spilled over to the Internet, and they advertise on the Internet in a bid to lure them back.”

He concluded: the bigger question is how much revenue share Internet can gain from television, and not which media will kill the other.

© 2006 agencyfaqs!