Rabindra Narayan
May 06, 2024

Beyond the box: The future of television in the OTT era

Renowned movie producer and television maverick Rabindra Narayan shares his insights on why over-the-top (OTT) platforms are poised to change the TV game now, and forever more.

Beyond the box: The future of television in the OTT era

In recent years, the television industry has grappled with the disruption of traditional Linear Television (TV) by over-the-top (OTT) platforms. Although traditional TV faces challenges due to the rise of OTT, there are also significant opportunities for growth and adaptation.

It's clear that OTT services have transformed the television landscape. On-demand content, personalised viewing experiences, and multi-device accessibility have significantly attracted viewership. This shift has sparked concerns about declining ratings and advertising revenue for linear channels. Yet, in India, TV remains a communal activity, with families and friends gathering to watch programs together. OTT complements this by offering content that might not be family-friendly or is accessible when away from home.

Viewing OTT as merely a threat to linear broadcasting overlooks the interdependent relationship between the two. Broadcasters can leverage OTT not only to enhance their traditional offerings but also to reach audiences outside their usual broadcast schedules. For example, many networks have launched their own platforms or partnered with existing ones to distribute content more broadly. PTC Network launched PTC PLAY, which includes Linear TV channels, 360 VR broadcasts, and OTT-specific short films, attracting a new audience across various global communities.

SonyLIV, owned by Sony Pictures Networks India, provides subscription access to a vast array of content, including live Linear TV channels, original web series, movies, and sports events. By expanding into the OTT space, Sony has diversified viewer options and strengthened engagement with its brand.

Moreover, OTT platforms have introduced new revenue streams for the TV industry. The subscription-based models of OTT services provide a more stable income, lessening reliance on fluctuating advertising revenues. Additionally, the global reach of OTT enables TV networks to tap international markets and monetise their content on a larger scale. For instance, the PTC PLAY app has more subscribers in Canada and the USA than in India. The newly launched FREE TV box now offers over 500 channels via its box and OTT app, with Jio emerging as a major content aggregator.

Disney+ Hotstar, one of India's leading OTT platforms, offers a vast library of content, including Bollywood films, original series, and live sports. It attracts millions of subscribers, generating substantial revenue through subscriptions and advertising. However, its reliance on cricket has shifted, necessitating a strategic alignment with Jio to maintain its market position.

The convergence of OTT and linear TV also opens avenues for innovative marketing strategies. Data-driven insights and targeted advertising enable networks to offer more personalised and relevant content, enhancing viewer engagement and loyalty. Yet, the industry still lacks a Unified Ratings System. The demand for Content Ratings Points (CRP), as opposed to traditional Television Rating Points (TRP), is growing. Although BARC remains the sole ratings provider in India, smaller entities like Chrome are beginning to explore digital viewership metrics. The Indian government is also seeking alternatives to BARC.

ZEE5, from Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited, utilises data analytics to provide personalised and localized recommendations, enhancing viewer experiences and boosting marketing efficacy.

Practically, the rise of OTT should be seen not as a threat but as a catalyst for evolution and innovation in TV. Embracing this changing landscape, leveraging both OTT and linear TV's strengths, can lead to a thriving television industry. The scope of viewership is expanding, and new, engaged audiences are emerging, with content delivery systems becoming more accessible and economical globally.

Ultimately, the television industry's success hinges on adapting to consumer preferences and technological advancements. By embracing OTT and exploring new growth and monetisation avenues, TV networks can continue to captivate audiences and stay competitive. Content remains paramount, but the era of appointment viewing is evolving into one of convenience. Viewers now choose when and how they watch programs, moving away from fixed schedules.

Linear TV may see the decline of certain genres, as movie and music channels struggle without digital rights for standalone OTT ventures. While news remains TV-centric, sports broadcasting is increasingly shared with digital platforms, likely tipping more towards digital due to superior quality and innovative options. Regional TV still predominantly relies on linear broadcasts, although its revenue is pressured by higher investments in cricket and digital platforms.

While OTT platforms pose challenges for traditional TV, they also offer substantial opportunities for adaptation and growth. By leveraging both mediums, the television industry can navigate the evolving landscape and continue to prosper in the digital age.

Rabindra Narayan is the managing director and president at PTC Network. He's been dubbed the 'Father of Punjabi Satellite TV.'

Campaign India

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