Will Online Streaming/Internet TV ever come to India?

One of the recent stats released by Comscore about Indian consumers’ browsing trend listed out were their interest in entertainment which is primarily involved in visiting video streaming sites like YouTube.This stat provides an interesting perspective on the future of Online Video Streaming services in India. Consumers if provided an option will choose for services like Netflix or Hulu if it is available in India than the conventional cable/digital tv broadcasting providers.

Source : Sanki.in

Though the online video streaming market is poised to surge in the following years , am still skeptic if there will be a major growth to these services since the broadband infrastructure has not penetrated the market a lot.Barring the broadband infrastructure , I do not see any reason why Online Streaming will not be preferred , thanks to pitiful state of affairs of cable tv broadcasters.

Dearth of Innovation in Cable Network 

Why Online Streaming will be favored over the decade old Cable Network ?  Simple reason : lack of innovation , no flexible content streaming modes and poor value for money. The way how different channels are packaged as bundles make end consumers choose the maximum package available which escalates the service to a  very high cost. Irony is that as a consumer you may watch only one or two programs per channel .HD programming has been very recently introduced and with its limited content availability has again made the price go over the roof.

Charging for same content multiple times

If you are a Tata Sky Customer in India , you would have recently seen this feature called ‘Video On Demand’ . What this provides is access to last week’s program which you may have missed out and a whole of movies and other programs that has already been telecast so many times .You  cannot access these  services directly from your cable network. You need to download all the programs through internet. And you might be guessing that  since last week program is basically catch up programs and they should be free . But that is not the case . You need to pay certain amount to download them and these downloaded programs can be at your setup box for a certain time period only.

So in short, you need to pay standard monthly fee regularly and to watch any missed out program, pay extra amount to download. And for downloading, you need to pay the broadband guy for the bandwidth. This is in essence day light robbery.

Pay channels with endless advertisement

There are many channels for which you pay subscription , meaning pay channels . But what we get in return is endless advertisements that a 2 hour movie will be played for 4 hours . If it is a free channel, I can understand that advertisement will help them sustain, but for pay channels , why so many advertisements ? Though TRAI is laying rules over how much advertisement can be shown per hour , no one seems to be actually listening.

Channel broadcasters’ mantra these days are  : Buy block buster movies for astronomical rates and screen them every weekend and get maximum advertisement each and every time thereby irking the movie watching experience of consumers.

Single mode of content broadcasting

Though you pay quite a sum for cable subscriptions, you rarely use it to the fullest . Reason is that you need to be in front of TV to watch them . To get the content in one more than one tv, additional infrastructure is required . And for multiple tv’s, added subscription cost as well.There is no mode in which the content is provided to you . So even if you’re not at home and in front of TV, you cannot avail any of the service.

Your cable subscription is becoming no value for money .

Enter Online Content Streaming services like Hulu , Netflix , Amazon , Apple and Google TV.

Streaming Content from other devices

The whole cable network is so old school – that is what these online streaming services like Hulu Netflix etc think . Content is the king . So all that these service needs to do is  talk with the studio that produces content and try negotiating with them. Though the negotiation will be difficult task for all parties to agree on , it could revolutionize TV subscriptions totally.  These online streaming services brings you lot of movies , tv serials directly to you through the internet . Though Xbox is a gaming device , recent data suggest that it is used for media streaming a lot . Yes , it has tie up with HBO and other important online content providers .

Now even Apple TV is getting more and more content into it’s stable. It is letting it’s own iTunes be challenged by Amazon,Hulu and Netflix etc.

So all this is proving one thing for sure : Your cable operator is one more layer of complexity that gets added to the cost of delivering services.

Also cable network has it’s own set of limitations

Cost and technology that is required to broadcast in case of digital transmission by buying transponder space from  satellites is resource and capital-intensive. If these broad cast transmission can be done over the internet , it saves  a whole lot of precious spectrum that could be used for scaling up the 3G and 4G infrastructure.

To rest my case , even a small rain can play havoc and interrupt satellite and cable transmission .

Why Online Streaming/Internet TV could be a boon ? 

The UK government is already floating a proposal to transfer broadcasting via internet. This may take a while  to happen because just now whole of UK has moved to digital broadcasting after years of migration from analog. But in the long run , if this proposal  gets progressed, it could radically change the way how broadcast can evolve in future.

Operators like Tata Sky have exhausted all their bandwidth and cannot add channels unless  they buy space in new satellites. For past one year , it is awaiting the launch of INSAT which is getting postponed a lot .Also in the age of HD , the bandwidth consumption will be even more and hence there will be an endless constraint of satellite space between different DTH operators.

 Sooner the move to Internet Broadcasting , easier and better the services can be.

You may have recently heard the news that Google is launching a new kind of service called ‘Google Fiber’ which provides ultra fast broad band .Not only does this provide broadband but also TV subscription through Internet . You can watch live tv programs directly in your tv using the setup box provided along with broadband .  So no more two different services, one service for both broadband and cable.

This is what could be a game changer.

Broadband penetration problems

Right now in India , there is a serious problem in broad band penetration. Mobile broad band , 3G and usb dongle internet seems to have taken momentum of broad band penetration to some extent.

Also there is again data cap which prevents us from streaming endlessly lot of content. Internet speed is also a problem . If this problem is alone addressed , our TV viewing experience can be greatly enhanced.This article clearly describes the reason for high cost of internet in India which is mainly due to infrastructure issues.

Even though some providers has IPTV , it has not really caught up . Airtel has the service in few areas but it seems they are not interesting in promoting them much since it can take some pie from their digital tv business.

Government should intervene and make sure the infrastructure and costs related to that are lowered so that the internet can penetrate the country well and reach the masses.

Future is the Internet TV

As we are still grappling with moving our transmission from analogue to digital in major metros now , the next era of content broadcasting that is evolving slowly  will lead to one more switching of technology from digital to internet.

Internet TV/Online streaming  is the right way forward – it creates the necessity for better broad band infrastructure and services  there by helping people get interconnected .Single unified service for both tv and broadband is what the customers would want. Like how we now pay for a single music track , we should be empowered to pay for what ever we watch . All these bundle tv packages and atrocious pricing should go away and bring in flexibility in terms of consumer preference , multiple mode of content viewing like TV , PC , tablets and mobile .

Change is always difficult but be ready to embrace the future of TV which is internet online streaming !

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