VBS 2024: The FAST TV Phenomenon: The Next Growth Phase

VBS 2024: The FAST TV Phenomenon: The Next Growth Phase

India is in the grips of seisnic changes as far as video and broadband consumption is concerned.


Mumbai: India is in the grips of seisnic changes regarding video and broadband consumption. Pay TV cord-cutting is rampant even as free TV subscriptions are on the rise and OTT buy-ins are churning with the signs up for certain platforms stagnating even as others are seeing rapid increases and some are seeing cataclysmic drops. Aggregators of OTTs are popping up on the horizon promising cheap bundles along with value-added services for cable TV and DTH. There's a rush to set up free advertising-supported TV channels by TV set manufacturers and smart TV device makers. There's the Jio factor where it seeks to convert most pay TV customers to free streaming of video content by offering free access to consumers at no cost. The consumer continues to demand bandwidth higher than ever imagined even as prices drop. Margins are under pressure as every player goes one-up on each other to acquire and retain customers.

The video and broadband distribution landscape has not been as vibrant as it is now.. How long will this pot-boiling continue? What will the magic potion of video and broadband look and taste like? And what's the end game? Indiantelevision.com has held the 20th edition of Video and Broadband Summit better known as VBS at Sahara Star Hotel, Mumbai.

The session chair for this panel was The Linus Adventures founder & chief evangelist Sunil Lulla along with the panelists: Travelxp co-founder  & CEO Prashant Chothani, DistroScale APAC head Vikas Khanchandani, Jioads CEO Gulshan Verma, Samsung Plus TV head of partnerships Kunal Mehta, Planetcast digital COO Venugopal Iyengar, Amagi SVP (Sales) Jay Ganeson

Lulla began the session by saying how the marketplace is being built, how highly competitive it has been over the years, and also the emergence of FAST TV.

To which Iyengar replied, “ The distribution landscape has been changed which we talked about on the morning session options. For media owners, there are hundreds of options which is great news but there is a complexity of how to manage not only distributing your content without too much conflict of interest or conflict of revenue. Secondly, also, how do you create a differentiated proposition for the viewer there's no point doing a live channel and then you know, which is paid. So those two challenges are, of course, being dealt with by the media owners and the distributors like I was talking about, is really about figuring out how to manage this experience for the user, personalizing it and making it important.”

Verma said, “ So I think the short answer right now is people want to watch a lot of content, and they want the variety that and they are willing to watch as in exchange for a more variety. And this is not just an Indian phenomenon, because we're in India, if you look at the US, for example, you take something like Hulu TV, you know, they have two plans.1299 a month with no ads and 799 a month with ads. 95% of users taking seminar time without space. So, they will always be interested in FAST.”

Khanchandani replied, “A lot of genres are getting pushed out of traditional distribution. So if you look at categories like English movies, and English entertainment, many other categories are feeling the heat. These guys are getting pushed out of traditional distribution. FAST is becoming a great place for them to land. Just allowing them to reach the right audience and build viewership.”

Chothani said, “Fast helped us to graduate people to go on to pay TV and then get into the spot. So fast is when you say what is fast? It's DD Free Dish on steroids. Because you can monetize it better. And it's not that the television advertising budget is going down, the growth has slowed down. So nobody's going away, everything is going to be there, we need to be a leader. That the key takeaway we understood when in the West when they entered FAST and it's not that it took away from our pay TV audience or into coming from our OTT offering. So consumer is also consuming as part of certain transitions that the consumer is watching everything everywhere. So it's not this or that. It's this and that, and that.”

Mehta said, “There is a need for other genres also to start, you know, investing in the content investing in FAST. About 80% of my consumers today watch some ad-supported streaming content on our FAST TV. So that just shows you how powerful the medium is whether it be TV plus or YouTube or any other VR OTT application on the platform.”

Ganesan at the end summed up the by saying, “There are going to be four key players in any strategy from the consumer who's eventually watching, who's ready to watch an ad for getting the free content, they see value in FAST because on AVOD there is so much content, you just end up when you have what I have a lean back experience, you just don't know what to watch what you want to watch.”