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February 17, 2014

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Putting Entertainment (especially Cricket) First

Cable and Telecom Operator Cooperation Fuels India’s Multi-network & OTT Video Growth

Bollywood and cricket undoubtedly remain the key drivers of India’s rapidly developing multi-network, multi-screen TV industry.  From checking stats and facts to watching a game live when the main TV is occupied, mobile TV in India has become a way of life for most of the nation’s 100M+ mobile Internet users. 

During our Multi-network Forum at last month’s Convergence India show in Delhi, the topic – together with the role of cloud-based services, security, regulation and business models amongst others - was discussed at length by a very well-informed and engaging panel, comprised of:

  • Vidya S. Nath, Director, Digital Media, Frost & Sullivan (moderator)
  • G.D. Singh, Director, DigiVive
  • Subhashish Mazumdar, Sr. VP-Marketing & Customer Relations , Hinduja Group
  • Anil Prakash, Secretary General, Broadband India Forum
  • Arivan Govindan, Vice President, Sales, APAC, RGB Networks
  • Steve Christian, VP Marketing, Verimatrix

The following post touches upon a few of the Forum discussions, however, the event presentations and videos provide an excellent insight into a market in transition, so please take time to watch them at your leisure.

Cooperation vs. Competition – Cable and Telecos Working Together!

Unlike the mature multi-screen markets of Europe and the U.S., cable operators and mobile operators are not taking a defensive strategy towards over-the-top (OTT) video services, but are putting the content and entertainment value in front of consumers as a seamless “whole,” working together to monetize opportunities from the outset.

This was well explained by G.D. Singh, Director, DigiVive, India’s most popular pure-OTT service. With more than 13 million subscribers to date, DigiVive is working with one of the nation’s telecom operators. “We monetize our business by offering a compelling mix of advertising-supported, free content combined with paid content, for which we use the pre- and post-paid billing relationships that telcos already have in place.” With 25,000-30,000 downloads of the DigiVive app every day, the synergy appears to be working.

Digitization, “IP-ization” – The New Cable Frontier

While multi-screen has traditionally been considered as the add-on to main-screen TV, this is no longer the case – certainly in India where operators are becoming increasingly IP-centric. This “IP-iztion” of cable is a new frontier where physical transport of the entertainment services are interchangeable and operators can focus more on the delivery of multi-screen entertainment services and more personalised experiences, rather than its mode of transport.
Multi-screen Success Factors

The delivery and demand for OTT, multi-screen TV and video services come, naturally, with its fair share of growing pains. Anil Prakash, Secretary General, Broadband India Forum, explained that there is increasing pressure on infrastructure, regulation and standardization to meet the growing demands of India’s video-hungry mobile population—the greater share of which are located in second and third tier cities where power can often fail and the mobile networks takes on an even greater level of significance to deliver TV.  Subhashish Mazumdar, Sr. VP-Marketing & Customer Relations, Hinduja Group, meanwhile, believes that the hybrid business model of broadcast and OTT will still needs to be established.

While it will take at least a couple of years for multi-screen TV to become mainstream in India, G.D Singh believes that the prime drivers are, however, already in place:

  1. 3G/4G penetration success for multi-screen
  2. Smartphone penetrations
  3. Cost of data-access
  4. Content quality on the screen
  5. User interface

Certainly the alignment of mobile and cable operators in India enables them to skip over wired-broadband and provide synergy of wireless broadband TV delivery and a hybrid set-top box (STB) without the cable networks needing to be two-way enabled.

The Role of the Cloud

Vidya S. Nath, Director, Digital Media, Frost & Sullivan, who skillfully moderated the Forum, believes that while a complete multi-screen ecosystem on the cloud will become a reality in India within a few years, today its value is in helping create new touch points and reaching consumers over new devices with easy applications. It also plays a valuable role in leveraging content delivery networks (CDNs) to distribute compressed video to consumer wherever they are. Subhashish Mazumdar believes that the cloud enables entertainment providers, including the Hinduja Group to enrich services at the lower cost with, for example, localized languages. 

Did you attend the Multi-network Forum at Convergence India 2014? What were your key takeaways?

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