@NDTV NMC: Old Media Evolves With Consumers; Regulation Biggest Bottleneck; Who’s The Consumer?

For some reason, at the NDTV New Media Congress, the session focusing on mass media companies taking to the Internet digressed down the New Media vs Old Media path. Kevin Obi, SVP (Digital Assets) for NBCU International seemed rather annoyed at the “ridiculous” distinction between new media and old media, saying that latter evolves with its consumers, and the two domains do not compete, but co-operate. He spoke of Hulu, calling it the number one destination in the US for premium content (from a commercial point of view), saying that NBCU has created a destination site,and are reaching out into the marketplace and partnering with other content providers. In a way, this was also a response to my question, about how business models will change for mass media companies as they move on to the Internet, and will have to compete for attention with multiple, global, content providers; the issue is – there can be an infinite number of destination sites as well.

An answer to this question also came from Viren Popli, SVP & Head of Mobile for STAR India, who said that local content providers are competing with content providers around the world anyway – they bring what is local, and what works for an audience. During his presentation, Popli also mentioned that content creation is becoming more expensive – cost of sets, talent etc is going up, while it’s also becoming cheaper with mobile phone cameras and digicams. Another bugbear – technology is changing very fast, and multiple delivery platforms are evolving – cable, digital cable, DTH, IPTV, Internet and mobile Streaming etc. Business is becoming more scattered – today, having an office in every state capital is not enough. And too much is dependent on advertising – Everyone expects advertisers to fund the future. However, the biggest bottleneck is regulation: every day there are new regulations, and they are not keeping pace with technology. 3G and Mobile TV haven’t happened in India because of regulation.

Another issue that Popli mentioned was with programming and delivering content for consumers in India: multiple generations reside in the same household, with distinctly different preferences and most often, there’s a single user device in the house; at the same time, preferences vary across rural india, class 2 towns, class 1 towns and metros. One suggestion that he gave: opportunity lies not in creating a YouTube for India, but creating a light version so Indian consumers don’t have to wait for the video to load.

Tarun Katial, COO of Big FM sees new media as a new broadcast platform; he mentioned that mass media companies will at monetizing the space with pre and post roll advertising; it’s not as much about moving to a new medium, but about monetizing more than one media. During the Q&A, he mentioned that there’s a saturation of televoting right now, and new ways of monetizing TV on mobile will have to be developed. The session was moderated by Vir Sanghvi, Advisory Editorial Director for HT Media, who concluded as follows: convergence is a reality, people who never had access now have access; the internet makes everyones voice heard. The notion that because you can produce cheap content, entertainment is going to be cheap is not accurate. For example – Hollywood studios have started making money from new streams, and at the same time, the budget for films has gone up.

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