From the time of the birth of IPTV in India 15 years ago, and its failure due to unavailability of minimum viable bandwidth (around 10 Mbps), to today, there had been multiple disruptions in the way content is broadcasted and consumed. There are two significant trends we are about to experience, which will redefine the entire broadcasting ecosystem for both broadcasters and service providers. We are living in an era of innovations and possibilities in content broadcast and consumption. To be able to serve new content to the consumer on multiple devices of their choice with minimum TAT, a shift in satellite broadcast flow to IP is inevitable.
The year 2020 is going to be a year of IP where every kind of content, including live sports events, will be broadcasted on IP/hybrid flow from origin to playout on multiple devices. With average broadband speed touching 30 Mbps, economical rates, and fast-increasing penetration of internet across India, depending on pure satellite flow to broadcast content seems like an expensive and more complicated route in times to come. Post TRAI’s new tariff order, and rise of OTT in the past few years, broadcasters started progressing on multiple fronts to improve efficiencies, reduce TAT and total cost of ownership (TCO), and enhance content quality and portability.
Broadcasters will try and shift from pure satellite workflow to IP (hybrid) flow to broadcast content to service providers (MSOs/ISPs/DTH players). Moving to IP will reduce the TCO of broadcast infrastructure. It will provide broadcasters with more significant benefits like flexibility, scalability, and efficiency to take advantage of multiple opportunities created by technological innovations including experience, advertising, and usage, thus affecting the entire value chain. IP flow will also open up futuristic business models to keep up with future competition and innovations.
On the other hand, as per the Connect India initiative of National Digital Communications Policy 2018, universal broadband connectivity of 50 Mbps will be provided to every citizen, and fixed-line broadband access for 50 percent of households will be enabled by the year 2022. Such improvements in underlying infrastructure and availability of economical yet high-speed internet to end-users will make 2020 a year of IPTV’s grand come back. IPTV will empower the Indian families to watch linear as well as on-demand content without having to spend additional money on a smart TV, plugged equipment, or internet. In 2005, IPTV was primarily a phenomenon limited to Indian metro cities, with people taking the service for their second or third TV. However, now with increased internet penetration across urban and rural India, the demand for IPTV will come from all SEC consumers into ten metros, Tier-II and Tier-III markets alike. It will not be a misnomer to say that IPTV is here to stay for the long term. It will serve the changed content-consumption behavior of consumers, from appointment viewing to on-demand viewing, at a time of their choice, from multiple content sources, in an immersive, interactive, and VR way of display. IPTV fills many gaps, recently created in India with the launch of international and Indian OTT services, creating multiple formats of original content and changed content-consumption behavior of users. It will also be a year of consolidation and aggregation for multiple content services including but not limited to OTT, C&S, and social viewing.
With the required underlying infrastructure already in place and mounting pressure to reduce the TCO in a fast-growing national and international competition, shifting on IP flow is not only logical, but also more efficient and empowering for broadcasters.
On the other hand, the rise in the number of CTVs and demand for targeted, relevant, on-demand, and fresh and multi-screen content consumption, IPTV is going to become a service of choice. The service providers (ISPs) will be giving four play services that will include telephony, internet, entertainment, and security; however, internet and entertainment will be the crucial pull factors for consumers. There will be independent IPTV solution providers who will aggregate the content centrally on the IP network and provide IPTV services to ISPs, contributing to decreasing number of C&S connections in 2020 and beyond.