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Video streaming will not kill TV but measurement critical for its growth, feel experts

Speaking at FICCI Frames, Gaurav Banerjee of Star India said OTT will attract advertisers only when the industry has an independent measurement system in place. Tarun Katial of Zee5 said figures offered by Google were robust enough. Raj Nayak said good content will grow irrespective of the platform

India's overcrowded OTT industry, which has more than 30 names, could shrink to less than 10 players in the next five years, feel leaders from the broadcasting industry. The experts also feel that though OTT viewership is growing at an exponential pace in India, the industry will still not kill TV viewership in India.

Speaking at FICCI Frames, media veteran Raj Nayak, who recently quit Viacom18 as COO, said the number of OTT platforms in India will shrink to a single digit.

“There are several digital platforms available in the market, which is fragmented. Currently, there is a heavy ad fragmentation but by 2022 consolidation will take place and the number of platforms will shrink to single digit,” Nayak said.

Star India's President for Hindi GEC Gaurav Banerjee said that despite growing viewership, OTT won't have a major impact on TV and the medium will survive the digital onslaught.

A recent report by global management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group expects the OTT market to be $5 billion by 2023.

The report had noted that the number of players in the Indian OTT market had grown from 9 in 2012 to 32 in 2018.

It had also said that all platforms struggle with retention of consumers, and on an average 50% of OTT apps installed are uninstalled in the first seven days.

Banerjee said that OTT required a robust independent measurement system to attract advertiser's money.

“The whole business of money needs to come from two things: measurements and marketing. One of the big problems we have right now is that we don’t have strong robust digital measurement system like that of television. Television has big strong monetisation model that derives from our ability to offer transparent measure point. So, any advertiser can know exactly how much the content is watched and whether the watch time is growing. It makes very simple for people to verify whether the growth is right or not for brand.”

However, Tarun Katial, CEO, Zee5 negated the fact, saying that it is not accurate to say digital measurement is not available. Citing the example of Google and Facebook, he said, “Today Google and Facebook are bigger than most broadcasters in this country. If they hadn’t put measurement in place, people wouldn’t have invested dollars every single day. There may not be single currency for everybody but there are robust and crucial models. Digital is growing and Google wouldn't be where it is if they haven’t had measurements in place. Right now, all of us will put money behind Google than any other broadcaster.”

While Banerjee has questioned the unavailability of a third-party tool, Barc India in 2017 had proposed a transparent digital measurement system which is yet to see the light of the day. Earlier, had also reported on how the independent digital measurement system is struggling to become a reality because of Google’s unwillingness to allow third-party content measurement on its platforms.

Ekam was to be launched with an objective to inform brands on which content their ads are consumed and ensure brand safety, thus bringing transparency in the system. However, the delay in its implementation has left several brands disappointed.

However, when a question on the lack of support for BARC’s initiative was raised, the panellist avoided the question and stated that there is a need for a third-party measurement system. Banerjee said, “If I decide to make a particular story, then it needs to be measured deeply, accurately by a third-party source. It worked well for TV and movie business. We need to make it work for all content. A lot of people say we don’t need measurements. Let’s just put ads and see if we could get to the sales point. I think that is really a dangerous stance for the advertisers because what you miss out on is context.”

But Katial doesn’t believe that advertisers are losing due to the lack of a unified digital measurement. He said, “There is not a single advertiser here who doesn't have vote enabled in their video player. They don’t put so much money behind unmeasured advertising. Today YouTube is bigger than any single largest TV channel. The views of YouTube are bigger than Star and Zee, the advertisers are not putting ads on YouTube without measurements.”

While the digital measurement was the topic of debate, the panellist agreed that advertising will work only when data meets all the views. The experts said CPMs are rising, contrary to people’s belief on the back of amount of filters and data that is available. “Believe in great DVM platform and understand that you can sell targeted advertising for a rare cost. Having velocity and volume of millions of views every time will make the business work. Otherwise doing plain programmatic, having premium and not making the value worth it for advertisers or yourself is going to be tough,” Katial said.

On the question if digital will take over television, the experts believe that both the mediums will co-exist but television have to correct its course while creating content.

“Content will be like water which will fit in whichever platform you put it on. In today's ecosystem, it is good content that will take precedence over anything,” Nayak said.

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