Even as the increasing digital content viewing is perceived as a threat to the television industry, experts feel both can co-exist as the latter still continues to hold ground because of its reach. Digital has been gathering steam in the last couple of years with many domestic players and international video streaming service providers like Netflix and Amazon launching their over-the-top (OTT) services in the country. “The big advantage that television has is its reach. Television has become what connects the dots in this country. As digital takes over, viewers would go there but they would still want to have the same shared experience on TV as well,” Star India President and Head of Content Studio Gaurav Banerjee said at the Ficci Frames here today. He said people have predicted death of various media and entertainment segments but nothing has really turned out to be true.
“Radio was supposed to die in 1950s, the film industry was over in the 70s, Doordarshan was over in the 80s. We keep foretelling these deaths but in reality it has never happened. Even in America where a lot of these changes have happened, television is still incredibly big. This continues to happen in India as well,” he said.
Balaji Telefilms Joint Managing Director and Creative Director Ekta Kapoor said television continues to be a large medium and won’t be marginalised by digital. “Such a large medium, such a large voice, will it get marginalised by technology? I don’t think so. Its challenges give birth to more fresher and interesting content,” she said. As per a Chrome Data Analytics and Media report around 6 per cent of the Indian urban population access over-the-top (OTT) content on a daily basis and 24 per cent on weekly basis, while noting that more than 50 per cent of the viewers still prefer TV as the first screen for viewing media contents. According to Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific senior vice president and general manager Karan Bajaj, India is a unique market where people might look to consume long format content on television and shorter-format on digital.
He said in India people are not buying smart TVs but are buying mobile.
“In countries like the US, the UK and all developed broadcast markets, the smart TV penetration has shot through the roof. From 10-12 per cent smart TV penetration has reached 50-60 per cent in last six months,” Bajaj said. “India is the only country which has gone to mobile phones. We are not buying smart TVs but we are buying mobiles. The dynamics of this is interesting because for them smart TV is leading to a TV channel competing with an Amazon or Netflix,” he said. Bajaj noted that India might end up with a scenario where TV becomes a long-form medium and mobile becomes a short-form medium and the interplay exists where both have a role to play, which is very different from any other market.