The Constant Truth in an Ever Evolving Content Business

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Dinesh Gupta, Founder & MD of Sacom Mediaworks

Content has evolved from being made for television in a linear form to an age where it is now made for a screen with a mode of delivery in mind, says Dinesh Gupta, Founder & MD of Sacom Mediaworks. Meet Dinesh at MIPCOM Stand No. P-1.B2

2008: A family of 5 gets in front of a television screen in their living room to get their daily dose of entertainment and family time.

2018: There are 3 television screens in the same home with every member owning a 4G enabled touch screen mobile device, each consuming content of their choice, either on a television screen which is delivered via cable, direct to home or internet, or on their handheld devices.

They choose to stream content on their personal device or simply mirror it from their devices on their television sets. This metamorphosis has made the transformation of M&E business a constant phenomenon, from content to viewers, platforms, modes of delivery and last mile devices that consumers consume on, all have evolved. While this ecosystem is now more well defined than it has ever been, evolution seems like the single biggest reality that will consistently continue to keep redefining the content business.

Content has evolved from being made for television in a linear form to an age where it is now made for a screen with a mode of delivery in mind. Appointment viewing pattern has drastically reduced to a point that it is now limited to daily soaps, news to some extent, with a large part of it being dominated by the live sports broadcasting globally. A viewer now finds content of his choice, on a screen of his choice at a time of his choice. Netflix introduced the binge-watching concept for high quality content, redefining how content can be consumed and invested heavily in making this simple yet path breaking pattern a way of life for its users. Different users of the same family can now use the same Netflix account in a way that they consume content of their own choice, yet find a personalized user experience based on their consumption patterns.

So, each of them have a different world of their own on the same platform. Netflix was ingenuous as it was the perfect marriage of content strategy and technology – a simple reimagining of the existing status quo that we inherited from appointment viewing based broadcast.

This metamorphosis has also brought an amazing pattern, where every form of delivery platform has found its own distinct viewer, while the consumer has now become content loyal and platform agnostic. There is a very clear distinction between the free and the paid user, between a Free TV and a Pay TV user, an AVOD on OTT, YouTube & SVOD user. Choice has not only spoilt the consumer but has also given them a much clearer sense on where they belong, even though this maybe dynamic. Mechanics on what to serve the consumer, where and how to find him are very well defined now. The quest for platforms to stay competitive is creating consolidation and new strategies that can help them drive growth.

Over the top platforms have a very deep learning of their consumers, trends and patterns that are driven by data analytics and machine learning. They are also able to deliver unparalleled user experience thanks to a variety of algorithms and AI driven recommendation engines.

Localisation has further been a vital tool for platforms to help improve content consumption. Platforms and devices are constantly working to improve user experience based on what a consumer really wants and adapting to technological innovations that can aid this. This helps digital platforms understand, predict and plan on how they can retain a consumer and bring new users into the fold. The media industry, in its latest avatar, has created a need that consumers previously, perhaps, were unaware of – choice. And this need of choice, quite ironically, has reduced his affinity to any particular brand or platform of content delivery.

But over the air broadcasting can’t be dismissed outright. Yet. Television viewing patterns have drastically changed and evolved and so has its audience. Platforms have worked hard to keep pace to stay relevant in these challenging times. No denying that media fragmentation and personalization has taken a lot away from the TV business, though they have worked to keep their content relevant by subscribing to catch up tv and over the top products addressing the same consumer and bringing back the lost consumer, as they find new ones in a bid to build newer sources of revenue growth.

Most developing and under developed countries witness sizeable amount of content consumption on television, which ends up as their primary medium of choice with reasonable growth driven by good content and innovations.

Metrics on how the TV business can deliver customization and a better user experience have been limited, though TV constantly works to add newer technologies, evaluate viewership patterns in deeper detail to plan an apt content strategy while maintaining the balance between subscription and advertising revenues. Media fragmentation, depleting subscription and advertising revenues have brought better cost controls and innovative methods for television networks to maintain viewership.

Mobile network operators now take a very keen interest in the M&E business. They view the content business as their single biggest tool to grow their data consumption and improve their ARPUs. With the world moving to 1 Gigabyte per second speed on broadband and 5G mobile networks, the single biggest business to be impacted by this change is be the M&E business   content is consumed.  This dynamic has also led to some of the leading global telecom giants like AT&T, Vodafone & Jio to invest in buying or partnering with television networks. This pattern is likely to stay and will provide the television business with the push it needs to survive and grow.

Mobile network operators will continue to evolve the world of television and content in the near future. The mode of distribution has changed and will consistently continue to change in the future. Content production and distribution are getting integrated. Content creators are increasingly investing in high end premium slates that are redefining rules of the game. High speed internet connectivity, access, high quality content, better devices at all price points, personalization and mobile network operators entering the M&E business are key drivers of today’s content ecosystem. All these are today’s truths that will become tomorrow’s history. The only absolute truth is that content business will be in a continuous state of evolution. And to stay topical we need to stay fluid – as organizations and as individuals. And that isn’t a choice; it simply is a necessity.

(Dinesh is the Founder & MD of Sacom Mediaworks, a content company that works to create, distribute and monetize content that reaches over 80 countries globally across Television, OTT & Telco platforms. Sacom owns 12 content IPs in 20 languages ranging from Health & Wellness, Food, Travel, Sports, Bollywood, Kollywood, Hollywood & women’s content. Sacom also has a proven track record of producing & distributing content for global markets, it has successfully distributed over 5,000 hours of content to 40+ platforms in 5 continents and 15 languages. Dinesh also co-founded TripFactory.com. Dinesh is at MIPCOM and can be reached at dinesh.gupta@sacom.in)

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