In India, LiveTV is probably the cheapest versus anywhere else in the world. Hence, Live & On-Demand content to coexist
By Harit Nagpal, MD and CEO, Tata Sky
January 17 2021: Almost everyone we know is watching On-Demand content more than Live TV. However, we don’t know everyone. If there are 130 million subscribers of PayTV in India, roughly ten million of these homes have access to high-speed broadband, necessary to watch streaming video, hence family viewing of on-demand content. These homes are growing in number. So are PayTV homes. As distributors of content, we have to cater for the convenience and the growing needs of both these types of homes.
We have been serving Live TV digitally for 15 years. We buy content from multiple broadcasters and present it by genres, because we understand how people select content. If I am a fan of Gujarati content, I shouldn’t have to wade through 600 channels to find the two Gujarati channels. Nor should I need to remember the channel numbers for these. We even stopped remembering people’s phone numbers after the mobile phone came in.
Selection of a genre with the help of a DTH remote, always took two to three clicks. Once in the genre, the channel of choice is only a scroll away. This was made easier by creating a ‘Favourites’ box which could store links to channels that the family watched often, reducing the clicks even further. Recently we’ve introduced a feature which displays the last few watched channels on the screen, on pressing the ‘Guide’ button, thus eliminating the need to click and scroll.
While the broadcasters are specialists in creating content, DTH platforms specialise in making discovery of this content easy. If discovering content of choice, from amongst 600 odd channels that we carry (100-200 of which would be of interest to a family) required simplification, imagine choosing what you’d like to watch from tens of On
Demand apps, with each app boasting of tens of thousands of content assets. This is where our experience of aggregating and helping discover content comes in handy.
For homes that watch On-Demand content as a family, we have created Tata Sky Binge, an aggregation of On-Demand Apps which can be accessed through a Fire TV Stick. A subscriber gets access to multiple Apps, with just one subscription. Content is displayed by genre and not by App. We prefer going to a department store to buy a pair of trousers with 34” waist versus hopping store to store, because the large store stocks trousers of multiple brands in one place, enabling easy discovery. Finding content of your choice on Tata Sky Binge is something like that. This has subsequently been upgraded to an integrated box called Binge+, it is a hybrid set-top box that allows you to toggle between Live TV and On-Demand content, at will. Voice search further helps discover content by genre or artiste, from across Live TV channels and On-Demand apps.
Therefore, in the coming years, while Live TV continues to grow, as more non-TV homes buy television sets and Free-to-Air homes upgrade to PayTV, homes that can afford and have access to high-speed broadband, will subscribe to aggregated apps and move to integrated boxes.
In the West, homes that moved to On-Demand content consumption, cut the Live TV chord, because it was expensive. In India, LiveTV is probably the cheapest versus anywhere else in the world. Hence, here we will see Live & On-Demand content coexist.