The Current Media & Entertainment Scenario in India

Holding a MS in Software Systems from BITS Pilani, Kishore boasts of a 21-year long career during which he has worked with companies such as L&T EmSys, Samsung Electronics, SiRF Technology, SureWaves, InMobi and SOLV, and even co-founded a social media app named Shufflr, prior to joining Zee5 in 2021. Siliconindia recently got a chance to interact with Kishore, wherein he shared his insights about the latest trends and happenings in the media & entertainment industry. Below are the excerpts of the exclusive interview

What are your thoughts on the current media and entertainment industry in India?

The media and entertainment industry in India is currently going through at a very interesting phase, where broadcast and linear TV have been the dominant ways to consume media in the country. Although the OTT platforms have taken-off, they have not reached the inflection point yet. Mostly, big movie releases and sports are currently driving the uptake of OTT platforms. Gradually, we are witnessing a new trend, where the connected TV installations are through the roof this year. Thus, it is becoming a significant factor, wherein brands are also taking connected TV into their advertising budgets. Also, if you look at the trend of live sports on OTT platforms, everybody is making it free for everyone at this point. The idea behind this strategy is to chase the brand ad dollars. I feel the inflection point of a significant shift towards OTT-driven viewership may start happening from this year. Once that happens, a lot of business models around DTH/cable subscription business, ad monetization on TV, paid TV revenue will need to be revisited.

What are some of the latest technologies disrupting the media and entertainment industry?

In terms of technology, India has a very different device profile from the OTT perspective. The kind of connected TVs and smartphones that are sold in India are very different than what are sold in US and Europe. So a lot of these technologies will have to be built ground-up for India. Also, the proliferation of a lot of national languages increases the need for indigenous technologies to be built for India specifically.

In a culturally and linguistically diverse country like India, how important is localization factor for the media and entertainment industry?

Zee is the only broadcast OTT platform in India which is very strong in Hindi and regional language content as well. We find that a major chunk of viewers exists in this particular segment. Given that OTT has largely been a subscription based business till now and payments systems were only limited metro and urban region users, it was not that proliferated. What we are seeing now is that once the smartphone penetration increased massively and high speed internet becoming more affordable & accessible, we are observing that the consumption is being driven from tier-II cities and other regional places. Thus, there is a strong need to customize our solutions according to each region and language spoken there. Even from a technology perspective, when we build our recommendations or search, we are looking at how to address these markets, how to bring voice for these markets, how and to build our content meta data catalogue for these markets.

Today, what we do is we have content in original language and we will have audio profiles for other languages. But now, we are trying to use AI technology to do the lip sync between the dialogues and the content so that feeling to the audience as if it is coming from the original person. We are also exploring voice synthesis technology to see if the original voice of the actor can be used in the other languages as well. In most cases, the actual content loses its originality and effect when the voice is actually dubbed into other language. We are also exploring other solutions like ChatGPT if they can help us in large language models that can help us in coming-up with the translated content while not losing the punches and other inflection points in the content.

In US and India, users are consuming a lot of Korean content in recent times. Also, kids in India are consuming a lot of Japanese anime content. So, it is safe to say that content is gradually becoming global; there is no such as any content belonging to only a particular country or language. Off late, even the regional movies are gaining worldwide recognition and appreciation, thus leading to increased consumption of regional content internationally.

How has the strong emergence of OTT platforms in recent times impacted the media and entertainment industry?

In the linear world, the program timing would be decided by someone else. But in an OTT platform, everything available on-demand for the viewers to watch their desired content at any time, on any device and from anywhere, except for the live events. Content consumption will continue to happen, whether it is delivered via satellite, DTH, cable or OTT. If you look at the advertisement also, you can target each user uniquely according to his search history. With OTT platforms, you can target a specific customer and even make sure that your ad actually got run on their device. With this, the customer experience and content consumption behavior is changing, which in turn has led to the brands’ way addressing to this is changing. So OTT will disrupt the way content is being consumed, but there is also the emergence of ‘Creator Economy’, where not established production houses, the attention of users is also drawn towards content from Instagram, YouTube and many other social media platforms. So the competition currently is not OTT against television, but to grab the users’ attention. OTT is going to be strategy for the media companies to address this shift