A digital cable company has to position itself very distinctly in today's world of intense competitive market of various content providers. Content industry has been actually overwhelmed by the digital revolution and is now facing unprecedented challenges. Nevertheless, content is now more than ever unanimous focus point and will continue to maintain central position in any digital distribution format.
Increased digital consumption in India is expected to help all media distribution platforms to drive consumer aggregation. We do not expect any immediate impact on TV viewership; however, there will be increase in the time spent online - maybe within the same household. There is no denying that different formats of media may be gradually consumed online across episodes, films, short-form content, news, gaming, social interaction, education, and many other genres.
The content is moving from group/family viewing to personal viewing and this will likely increase content consumption manifold and can even change the various genres of the content.
As was predicted, cable digitization is now facilitating the launch of new channels, and broadcasters have started to innovate and serve niche content to differentiate them from the competition.
Cable services internationally have evolved since their first inception, moving to digital encoding of their signals, accompanied by roll-out of two-way data services. Two-way data systems, at their base level, allow broadband Internet and telephony to be delivered via cable, but are also critical for enabling new-generation interactive TV services. In order for interactive services to work, there must be a one-to-one connection between the consumer's set-top-box or TV and the upstream parts of the cable network.
This means that a consumer's remote control button press can be conveyed up the network to enable a specific piece of content to be delivered to that one consumer.
In a one-to-many system, such as terrestrial broadcast, the TV provider has little to no directional ability, meaning it cannot easily send specific pieces of content to any single end customer.
Increasingly, operators with no two-way data systems, such as DTH or DTT operators are using transmission over the open Internet (OTT) to satisfy consumer desires.
India is witnessing the growth of several OTT platforms offering anything from music to sports and these are live primarily on mobile devices.
DTH operators are already banking on the value-added services and providing their offerings through media devices also.
Cable MSOs can capitalize on the unutilized bandwidth they have on their networks. With MPEG 4 head ends, they can deliver more than a thousand channels. This is the edge cable has over the DTH; in fact all the value-added services, which DTH players are offering and even more, can be offered at lesser costs. Some of the MSOs have already started offering HD services and increasing the list and also replacing existing SD STBs with HD STBs. The lower prices of HD STBs are also helping and making it more viable. Adding one-way-interactive value-added services will increase value of their offering and demonstrate the ability to match DTH offering and do much more.
Each home today has personal entertainment/mobile devices apart from television sets. As it is already happening in the West, cable MSOs are bundling broadband Internet and offering hybrid STBs with gateway features to allow content sharing across devices. Also, while they can watch live TV channels of their choice, they can catch up with programs that they have missed, or just watch the content of their interest on demand on mobile devices. With return path, MSOs can now know what their customers are watching, can personalize offering, and recommend relevant content.
The distribution of television and video content is becoming increasingly complex as viewing preferences move toward a world in which content is available on demand and in a device-agnostic manner. Traditional TV distribution platforms of terrestrial, satellite, and cable are moving toward complete digital broadcasting. There is a separate trend toward increasingly complex digital-only platforms.
Often, different methods of video distribution are referred to as linear and non-linear. We may consider the linear content referring to content that is consumed at the time of broadcast, direct from the broadcast source. Non-linear content may refer to material that is consumed on request, outside of the original broadcast period.
TV Everywhere (TVE) services are one approach that international pay-TV operators and network owners are exploring to combat a growing trend of cord-cutting. In particular, they are attempting to add new functionality and interactivity to the television viewing experience and allow consumers greater choice on how they consume their content. TVE has been developed as a collective strategy to enhance the traditional linear TV proposition by allowing viewing off the primary screen, onto second screens like tablets, smartphones, and other devices.
In spite of the differences in strategy, all TVE products have one thing in common; they allow current pay-TV video subscribers to consume content on alternative devices to the pay-TV STBs either on a live or on- demand basis.
Considering the new technology and innovation boom in content consumption, Indian cable sector would do well to concentrate on the digital content strategy in all its formats, having a strong number base and technological edge.