Despite the sombre pall of the pandemic, video industry leaders have plenty to be optimistic about with ‘huge headroom’ for growth across TV and digital.
In the country sometimes described as ‘an India with many Indias’, speakers at the Asia Video Industry Association's ‘Future of Video India’ conference remained upbeat despite a 2020 in which TV advertising revenue dropped by a quarter.
Media Partners Asia regional vice president Mihir Shah looked to learnings from the last year and “economic resurgence picking up in certain sectors” to predict that India will have 35 per cent of every new incremental dollar in the region in the next five years, divided almost evenly between TV and online video.
“While cable in general is going through a structural decline, Pay TV subscriptions will grow both in value and volume and continue to offer scale for the traditional media players,” he said, “and with more than 60 online video services in India, the total addressable market will continue to expand.”
The local expansion is what Sunil Rayan, president and head of Disney+ Hotstar is eyeing, a next growth stage primed for India with locally-focussed pricing and content.
With India a mobile first market – driving individual viewing – while OTT and TV is not a zero sum game, OTT content needs to be far more engaging for individual viewing. "Fundamentally, we don't believe in a one-size-fits-all approach for India because there are multiple Indias within India,” Rayan said.
The sentiment of diversity and positive co-existence between the platforms was echoed by Discovery Communications South Asia managing director Megha Tata: "India lives in several centuries at the same time, and this is not only the beauty and complexity of the market, but also the opportunity to do more,” he said. “While it is still a long way away before the demise of the TV, a differentiated content and product offering remains a key focus.”
He said the ‘content is king, distribution is the god’ play would continue but differentiation of content would play a critical part in decision making.
The focus on local content driving content platforms was reinforced by Netflix India content vice president Monika Shergill, who said premium storytelling was a new space in India, where audiences were “open to experimentation and yet gravitating towards highly local tastes.
"Our job and our passion is to find the best stories... the biggest stories... the untold stories from India and to become the service of choice for Indians in India,” she said.
For Nimisha Pandey, head of Hindi Originals, ZEE5, while the initial focus had been on building volume, it has now shifted to adding to the diversity and scaling up the content offering.
Pandey too saw the need to up the game on the regional market for the next set of growth – so much demand that there was “much hope for everyone to grow their businesses”.
ZEE5 Global chief business officer Archana Anand saw it as “the market where the next billion consumers of video will come from”, describing it as “the decade of video”.
-with Asia Video Industry Association