India continues to be amongst the largest media markets globally, where traditional segments such as TV and print have remained buoyant and vital for the growth of news consumption. The country’s news genre is the third largest in terms of global TV viewership, with a share of 8%. Likewise, print readership has shown resilience, growing at 40% during 2014-17. The revolution in technological and communication capabilities have further transformed how news is produced, distributed and consumed. Mobile phones have enriched prospects for journalists to report from the field. High-speed mobile internet along with easily accessible apps have endowed journalists with potent means to gather news, not only at lightning speed but also more efficiently.
Further, drones are bestowing news organisations with capabilities such as timely and geographically-boundless coverage, remote operation and immersive storytelling, in a faster and cost-effective manner. While the concept is new to India, foreign broadcasters are leveraging drones that are effectively replacing costly helicopters. Digital media has overhauled news delivery, making the online dissemination of news more rampant. An increasing number of urban and regional users are accessing news on mobile apps and social networking platforms, and leading players to experiment with new editorial and distribution formats. Virtual reality (VR) is also showing great promise.
After years of research and development, VR seems to be on the brink of mainstream adoption. News distribution through immersive videos is particularly intriguing as it brings audiences closer to stories compared to other platforms. It makes business sense for legacy players to reinvent themselves and follow a fresh approach in a market shaped by digital. Having said that, determining traction on online platforms is tough and returns are currently inadequate. Additionally, the lack of audience data and the relocation of ad revenue pose a challenge.
Organisations have to introspect as to whether they should focus on legacy publishing with lesser audiences and full control over revenue and audience data, or should they yield control over user data and advertising for audience growth. However, there are aspects that need taking care of. Though technologies such as drones could be pivotal for news delivery, technical knowhow in operating them is required. Further, privacy, ethical and regulatory concerns arising out of operating drones also need to be factored in. There is currently a dearth of VR content, and production processes/tools are largely undeveloped and depend on specialist skill sets.
VR content development needs a marriage between editorial and production processes. Also, a clear insight into audience attitudes, content discovery and partnerships with VR technology vendors could help players build their VR content capabilities. All in all, players need to adapt to an environment where they have less control over how people discover and consume news. Strategic and operational decisions to leverage novel tools to capture and publish news that cuts across traditional and new media in an efficient manner are the need of the hour.
By: Girish Menon
The author is co-head — media & entertainment, KPMG India