Perspective | India's TV channels going the 'App' way: A boon or a bane?

Experts and studies indicate that India is already a member of the ‘multiple screens’ nations. So while you surf through your emails on your Ipad and watch your favourite show on TV, things however, are changing in a lot of ways and may be the other way around soon. It was not too long ago that Indian news channels, like their international counterparts became digital and then mobile with news portals and mobiles apps; channels from other genres are also following suit.

While Indian general entertainment channels like Star Plus, Zee TV, Sony Entertainment Television and Colors have their respective app across Android, Windows and iOS; joining the bandwagon are channels like MTV India, Bindass, Channel V, History TV18, Vh1.

In this edition of Adgully Perspective, we ask industry experts across sections Eklavya Bhattacharya, Digital Head, MTV India, Vivek Srivastava, Commercial and Digital, Colors, Nikhil Madhok, ‎Senior Vice President Marketing & Programming Strategy, Star Plus, Anooj Kapoor, Senior EVP & Business Head, SAB TV and Tushar Vyas, Managing Partner, GroupM South Asia to know what stimulates a broadcaster to go the ‘app’ way?

“If we look at our MTV app you won’t see the channels live feed as for us our objective is to take the content to right destination. Apps are for tech savvy and it also contains heavy data, MTV website has only 30 percent on web when we talk about shows content,” said, Bhattacharya.

Vyas said, “As you have mentioned more and more audiences are moving toward multi screen behavior, mobile / handheld devices are becoming an important screen in Mix with potential to become the most important screen. India is third largest internet audience as well as online video market. Broadcaster are following the change in user behavior with objective of either enhancing user engagement with TV or providing TV content on the go & on demand. Also, some of the broadcaster are trying to build online content distribution business/ Platform i.e. Ditto TV.” 

On asking Srivastava, he said, “If you look at the numbers it has double digit growth and digital slowly and gradually is becoming a very good delivery program. So, all the broadcasters and programmers today are looking at creating their own community which they can own.”

“I think having an app for your own channel is a good sign as broadcaster’s wanted to be present where consumers are. More avenues you will give people generates over all content growth. As devices increase content consumption will grow in the market,” shared, Madhok.

Kapoor added, “We have got over 5,00,000 downloads of our SAB TV characters. I agree with the fact that it’s a great way to engage with digital audience. Today’s audience is majorly based of youth so we have to follow to new platforms with the tradition platforms available as our media plan.”

“Screen agers are our TV who jumps from one screen to other. Not only television content consumed via apps as the main source is to build connectivity. Being on mobile and digital platforms is very important; it’s a second screen extension,” added, Bhattacharya.

“On asking what is the ROI and ROV that the channel’s expected to receive from this move, Srivastava feels, “Broadcasters follow two premises – presently where customers are and creation of your own platform. Everyone wants to be there where consumers are going. So, we have market of 100 million smartphones and we are looking for 300-400 million reach.   We at Colors look at application specific to programming done such as with Bigg Boss and CNWK. We are at 1/6th of the television viewing population and we have to prepare for future.”

Vyas said, “Application help create engagement with TV content and increase loyalty also, it helps extend the channel coverage to one more screen and opens avenues for time shifted TV content consumptions.  Today, monetization of video inventory on App is equally attractive for broadcasters.”

Madhok added, “Broadcasters get monthly revenue when the content is been subscribed and if it’s live content even sponsors are taken care of, as advertisements are been consumed with the content. People in past used to view free content in pirated form through net. Monetization is needed which will take time as right model need to figure out. Move of multiple content creation will happen any which ways. Thinking about ROI through apps is very early decision I feel. As its very early to conclude or decide about the platform as its at early stage. It will take time so thus deciding the right model for it.”

Other channels are looking at instant monetization and ROI. When they think of ROI they sometimes lack in building content for the app. that can't be termed as digital strategy. Broadcasters are cautious about how much to invest on digital and on app but that’s the future. Media consumption is evolving, its long term game,” said, Bhattacharya.

Further talking about how viable this move is considering, large sections of the country still struggle with 3G data connectivity, Srivastva opined that in terms of technology, devices and availability of internet is a challenge to reach out to audience.

India is third largest video market, IPL online viewership is more than Olympic online viewvership globally – all this are indication of audiences comfort with watching video online / on mobile. 
“India will soon get ready to leap frog to next generation of connectivity – it will help multiply the adoption.  A good application also provides better compression and seamless viewing experience,” Vyas explained.

On asking Madhok, he felt that with the growing market of smartphones and the users, apps will serve their purpose and we all need a better connectivity though.

“Mobile penetrations are far high then TV for us, as youths consume it more. Large amount of traffic is coming through small towns, 2G video as lower resolution and 3G for far better quality,” said, Bhattacharya. [By Ranjana Gupta| Twitter: @RGrightsreserve]
 

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