afaqs! news bureau

TV.NXT 2014: Beyond TV Screens - Distributors and Operators

At afaqs! TV.NXT 2014, Anil Wanvari spoke with Mandar Patwardhan, Naveen Jhunjhunwala, Smitha Jha and Partho Dasgupta.

At Rs 2,000 crore in advertising and pay revenues and with almost 100 million people watching, India is one of the fastest growing online video markets in the world. The growth in internet penetration, bandwidth and devices has eliminated the need to be in front of the TV screen to watch a TV show or a news item.

When millions of people download or stream the latest uploads from YouTube or any online video site, how do the people who own the pipelines and platforms react? Are the answers technological or do they lie in pricing and packaging?

TV.NXT 2014: Beyond TV Screens - Distributors and Operators

At afaqs! TV.NXT 2014, Anil Wanvari (founder, CCO and editor-in-chief, talked to Mandar Patwardhan (COO, SureWaves MediaTech), Naveen Jhunjhunwala (COO, BBC Global News), Smitha Jha (leader Entertainment and Media, PwC India) and Partho Dasgupta (CEO, BARC) on the subject.

When asked how BARC's monitoring system will decide on advertisers' expenditure on the traditional medium, Dasgupta asserted that there is nothing called traditional. There is content and there are pipes - call it DTH, cable, analogue, Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) or any other form of distribution. "From the monetary point of view, our intention is to set up a system which is platform-agnostic. It will measure all platforms and also digital delivery."

There are a lot of people watching TV on different devices and in different regions. At the end of the day, a majority of the digital content comes from the broadcasters. Therefore, one can say that it is traditional TV in the modern format. Talking about viewers on the digital medium, IPL on got around 2.1-2.8 million views everyday for a match in the evening; NDTV got around 13 billion online views on the election result day.

According to Jha of PwC, TV advertising, globally, is growing at the rate of 5 per cent; online advertising (on an overall basis) at 10 per cent and video internet advertising at 24 per cent. The message that comes out is that TV advertising is dead. Therefore, one should invest in online advertising. Should one?

"People think that they should start investing in platforms that will showcase content in the online platform. But when you go into further details, the size of online TV advertising is just 5 per cent of the total internet advertising market and internet advertising, in turn, is just 10 per cent of entire TV advertising," she pointed out.

Jha opined that a lot of money is still to be made from traditional advertising. "You need to pay equal - if not more - emphasis on traditional advertising. Do we see internet advertising taking over TV advertising in coming years? If you look at the global trend, the answer is no! But it is catching up. We will cross the line but not in five years, may be in 7-10 years."

Sharing the perspective of a geo-targeting company and their clients, whether or not there is some nervousness seen about the online platform, Patwardhan said, "I don't think so. The traditional medium will adapt to digital. Their USP is the ability to understand consumers better and the ability to deliver content for them. In a digital world, the video that is getting consumed is by the traditional medium or broadcaster. What they need to worry about is whether these digital players are going to backward integrate and get into traditional advertising?"

He was probably hinting at that has a movie channel, Cinema TV and Snapdeal that has plans of launching a teleshopping channel. Jha argued that if one looked at the TV business, there are 800 channels and over 1,000 content production companies. "Every large broadcaster engages with at least 30 production houses to produce content for one GEC. Even if you get on, you'll be one of those 30-40 producers. Content teams need to work with people who are producing content just for TV. Because the viewership habit of TV and digital audiences is different."

In India, the BBC has been there for a long time and the challenge is to have local content that is relevant to the world. "We will have an India feed and local content but the international perspective will always be there," said Jhunjhunwala. "The online space opens up vast opportunities. We can put localised content there. BBC in India has traditional TV audiences. Online gives us an opportunity to rope in new consumers and helps us disseminate credible news in different languages," he added.

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