Reshaping consumer experience

The pandemic has driven customers to adopt technology. There has been never seen before growth in e-commerce, online video, and digital gaming sectors. But to achieve this potential, light touch regulations and a much simpler governance structure in place are needed.

The media and entertainment (M&E) industry is undergoing a rapid transformation with the growth of broadband, mobile technologies, and digital media, all converging together to enable enhanced experience for the end-user and contributing significantly to the creative economy. M&E is the key champion sector identified by the Government of India for its exponential growth within and outside the country.

The Big Picture Summit is the flagship summit and leadership forum of the M&E industry and brings together stakeholders from the Indian government, industry as well as internationally renowned experts on a single platform to navigate a successful growth path at a time when digital transformation, the convergence of technology, and Artificial Intelligence are changing the rules of the game.

CII organized the CII Big Picture Summit 2020 from December 16-18, 2020 over digital platform with a range of sessions that included participation from content creators, broadcasters, buyers, studios, production companies, publishers, distributors, and developers across the gamut of the M&E landscape.

The summit discussed the global trends and opportunities, macroeconomic turbulences leading to softening revenues, understanding domestic consumer preferences, and growing focus on local opportunities for global audience. Digital platforms are proliferating and there are tremendous opportunities that never existed before – especially for creative industry, storytellers, and technology providers.

The CII-BCG report, Big Picture Summit Lights, camera, action…the show goes on, was released at the event which presents a panoramic view of the Indian M&E industry – how it fared in 2020, what were the viewership trends, what was the impact of the pandemic on advertising, which medium got an edge, and going forward what will be the role of Indian content in the global arena.

K Madhavan, chairman, CII National Committee on M&E and MD of Star India Pvt Limited and Disney India, flagged off the event with an address that reflects (and saluted) the power, resilience, and ever greater potential of the M&E industry in India. Madhavan set the context at the inaugural session of the prestigious summit with the theme Big to Bigger: Creativity, Technology, and Innovation – Reshaping Consumer Experience. He praised the manner in which, even in the most disruptive year ever, with content production halted, live sports and events cancelled and cinema halls and theaters shut down, and in the face of major cuts in ad spends, the entire industry surged to entertain millions of homebound viewers through platforms like television, gaming and digital.

He added that in his many years in the industry disruption on this scale has never been imagined. However, the entire industry had come together to engage and entertain millions of viewers. Television and video streaming peaked at 37 percent higher than the pre lockdown period and IPL was the biggest live cricketing tournament to be held during the pandemic. The tournament broke all previous records with a 23 percent increase in viewership over last year. The industry has the potential to grow to USD 100 billion by 2025. The pandemic has driven customers to adopt technology. There has been never seen before growth in e-commerce, online video, and digital gaming sectors. But to achieve this potential, light touch regulations and a much simpler governance structure in place are needed.

Prakash Javadekar, minister, MIB delivered the keynote address and announced that the government is forming a Center of Excellence (CoE) in cooperation with IIT-Bombay where courses in animation, visual effects, gaming, and comic (AVGC) will be provided. AVGC is a sunrise sector and the experts are providing backend support to top filmmakers of the world. The CoE will undertake initiatives to promote entrepreneurship and encourage start-ups in the sector. The minister added that India is a country where growth of communication technology is phenomenal, presenting a tremendous scope for entertainment and media industry. He urged professionals to do more for Indian films so that the use of animation and graphics in Indian films grows manifolds.

Amit Khare, secretary, ministry of I&B, opened his presentation by referring to amendment in allocation of business rules in November saying the idea behind the change, was to bring content at one place, (MIB) while keeping platforms at another place, (MeitY). This was done because in certain media circles, specifically print media, there used to be discussion that online and offline content should not be treated differently. This move was made in order to bring forth a semblance of equality by making sure that all content falls under one ministry and platforms fall under another. The role of the government in this sector is that of a facilitator. He remarked that MIB has the largest influence among all ministries and that influence comes only through the private sector, adding that almost all the filmmaking in the country was done by the private sector, all the channels except Prasar Bharti were private and the OTT sector was entirely private. The industry has grown as a private industry and the focus is not toward regulation but facilitation.

MIB is in the process of releasing the Draft National Broadcast Policy (NBP) and consultations on the AVGC Policy too, revealed Neerja Shekar, additional secretary (broadcasting) and CVO, MIB in her address. Though, the consultations on the National Broadcasting Policy were held with the stakeholders and by the industry some time back, they have been putting in various issues together. Consultations on AVGC will be held soon. On infrastructure status to the broadcast industry, Shekar sought industry support in terms of providing important inputs to the ministry. The ministry has been trying to support the broadcasting by getting it declared as an infrastructure sector. But they have not been able to succeed as the finance ministry is not convinced with the argument. She also sought help from the industry bodies to help the ministry in policy making by conducting good periodic surveys and research on media consumption patterns. Highlighting the need for a regulatory framework, she called for adopting self-regulation by the industry.

SK Gupta, Secretary, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), stated that today India is passing through a digital revolution era. There are 750 billion broadband subscribers and 550 million smartphone subscribers, and smartphone adoption rate is 30 percent YoY, indicating that there are a large number of people who will have a smartphone and can see TV or other content on the phone. He added that the industry is modeling the society and changing consumer behavior has opened new challenges for the industry. India is at the stage of adoption of the 5G technology. So, virtual reality and augmented reality are going to be very important areas to work together. While it could be a challenge also, it can complement the capabilities of the M&E industry. This can give India a lot of leverage to export its content to other countries.

Vikram Sahay, joint secretary, MIB at a session titled, Under Scrutiny: Will OTT be Able to Get Over It?, noted that OTT platforms have provided a huge opportunity for young artists, directors, actors, singers, musicians, and technicians to present their skills to a larger audience. Addressing regulatory concerns, Sahay said that the government is trying to ensure that the consumers are protected in all ways from fake news and other unacceptable content. The concerns are uniform across the world. It has nothing to do with India, specifically but is concerned with protecting children from content not suitable for them. And therefore, the ministry has been in touch with the industry and it will continue to be in touch with the industry to work out a model which is acceptable.

The 3-day annual summit saw over 25 sessions and more than 120 speakers deliberating on a wide range of issues that cut across the spectrum looking to develop a cohesive industry engagement with core cross sectoral policy dialogs and strategic exchanges. Union ministers, the regulator and policymakers, industry stalwarts, academia, civil society, global and regional leaders from Fox Star, Tata Sky, Reliance, RTL Group, Comcast, Discovery, Time Warner, and Sony came together in this years’ summit.

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