Future of TV Channels with the advent of OT4T Platform

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An over-the-top media service is a streaming media service offered directly to viewers via the Internet. OTT bypasses cable, broadcast, and satellite television platforms, the companies that traditionally act as a controller or distributor of such content. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Zee5, Disney Hotstar, Hulu etc can be considered as examples of OTT Platforms. Streaming on OTT Platforms has started with the advent of digital media giving tough competition to TV Channels. However in recent months, due to COVID – 19 pandemic, many new movies, web series have been directly released on to// OTT Platform – Penguin, Dil Bechara are few such examples – intensifying the competition.

Positive aspects of OTT compared to TV Channels:

Increasing accessibility: With nearly 500 million internet users, a figure that is growing at a rate of 8 percent, India’s potential as a market for global media and the entertainment sector is unprecedented.

Any time-Anywhere content: Unlike TV Channels, which have to be watched mostly from home, sitting constantly at a place and at a particular time telecasted by the channel, OTT Platforms can be accessed according to our wish, we can pass in between – take a break and continue from where we left off.

Cost effective: Compared to TV Channels, OTT platforms are cheaper for the content they provide. The economic gap between the two will further be widened with increasing penetration of internet and increasing browsing speed, from 3G-a couple of years back to 5G , will be achieved by next year mostly. Moreover, the credentials of single OTT Platform can be shared with multiple people which further widens the cost between both.

No need to watch advertisements: As most of the channels telecast advertisements for their revenue generation, we cannot skip through them unlike on OTT platforms (after few seconds)

Quality of video: is high on OTT platforms. On TV Channel one has to pay a higher price to get higher quality video through HD channels.

No extra installation costs: TV Channels require a cable connection; bad weather can disturb the telecasting. This is not the case with OTT with many optical fiber cables connected through underground network.

However following unique features of TV Channels which can never be replaced by any other media:

Content in regional language: About 93% of videos watched in India are in regional languages. But most of the content in OTT platforms in India presently is either in Hindi or English. Though few other languages videos are also present such as Tamil or Telugu, minority languages are not given much importance. This is not the case with TV Channels where local programs are made in regional languages.

Emotional Value of TV: Beginning from the 1980s, television was always something which could be found in almost every household, connecting families who gather around together to watch it.

Wide range of content: TV Channels broadcast different programs aimed at different age groups at different times (news, sports, kids etc), with varied intensity of knowledge. This might not be the case with OTT Platforms, where more or less uniform content is available.

Other issues with OTT compared to TV Channels:

Internet accessibility: Internet penetration is not universal in India. Even when people have accessibility, it mostly through mobiles – that too at low speeds. This leads to continuous buffering. This problem is not there with TV. Though our government is trying to increase digital connectivity through programs such as “Digital India”, it will take many years before we have 100% accessibility

 Even if one has access, Digital Literacy is not growing at faster pace compared to accessibility.

Cyber security: Chances of cyber threat is more with OTT Platforms. Kids might accidentally watch adult videos while accessing OTT Platforms.

Health issues: The negative effects of continuously watching mobile or laptop/tab far outweigh the negative effects of watching TV continuously. This is more so because TV is accessed from a farther distance compared to mobile/tab/computer. Smart TVs are a costly affair and only above middle class and rich people can afford them presently.

As per the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) Performance Indicator Report 2019, the Direct-to-Home (DTH) service sector had an active subscriptions base of around 72.44 million as of March 2019. This is a massive number which cannot be discounted and it will definitely take time for people to shift completely from conventional TV to OTT platforms. OTT platforms give a commendable competition to conventional television but they still face a number of hurdles which they have to overcome to completely take over the Indian entertainment market. Until then, it is safe to assume that television is here to stay for a while at least. TV channels might even modify themselves to sustain the competition from OTT Platforms for their survival.

-Anusha Kolli