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Tapping the last mile challenge for broadcasters

Unbelievable eye-ball war it is! The speed with which TVs – Smart ones and otherwise – are competing with mobile users, is simply amazing. The czars of telecom technology for small screens are innovating much faster than the broadcast industry. Are broadcasters waning in the competition? Well, the result is for everybody to see with every passing day!

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Broadcasting as an industry is constantly looking to don a new avatar with the unprecedented spread of over-the-top consumers. Technologically, it seems to be lagging in innovation, especially toward catering to the needs of last-mile distribution.

First technological challenge is the internet-enabled content distribution infrastructure. All of a sudden, there seems to be a vacuum due to a highly viable and desirable last-mile consumption of content from netizens.

Broadcast newsrooms are fast catching up to tectonic shifts, catering to end-user distribution opportunities, i.e., small- and individual-screen users.
News channels are constantly adapting to augment satellite feeds with additional geo-targeted content and advertisements through alternative delivery streams to suit their regional need.

It is a constant struggle to meet the ever-changing audiences’ demand, switching between broadcast and internet-enabled means.

As per the latest reports, online news audience grew to 450 million during COVID years. The digital population at 468 million and increased online time spent at 32 percent puts India at second position in the world. We are at a cusp, wondering how to cater to the two worlds. The majority population, i.e., the young has internet as the basic go-to means and the older generation, sticking to the traditional broadcast feeds. The only exception could be the community of far-end rural consumers.

This situation puts the broadcast technology with multifold challenges. Primary toolkit determining growth is concurrent knowledge of what the audience is consuming. Today, measurement of ratings is technologically challenged, and least credible. Our industry has to come to terms and stop gambling over guestimates of audience response. How can the industry turn a turn a blind eye toward technological innovations determining accurate and dependable rating parameters? Afterall, the growth of broadcast industry depends on a credible technology solution to measure audience response.

Maybe, Artificial Intelligence and comparative analysis through deep learning has a robust solution to legitimizing the audience size (TRPs) and related feedback on time spent and other consumption patterns.

So, the major challenge post-COVID and current times is incorporating more consumption data, personalization and assistive tools in collating audience response (our currency). Geo-targeting of advertisements is no longer limited to internet advertising. It is now being effectively monetized by the broadcasting sector. This will grow toward driving individual subscriptions with increasing technological solutions to measuring audience feedback.

Indian OTT video market connects 66 million unique video viewers every month and about 1.3 million OTT paid video subscribers. Are broadcasters losing the young spenders to this trend? The answer is a sure yes. But will it suffice the needs of semi-urban, rural, and remote tuners? There is pressure on broadcasters to innovate and adapt to the increasing demand for LIVE, interactive, and short-duration video content. Current low internet speeds seem to be a short-term challenge. The big challenge is for the broadcasters to serve the changing preferences of many Indian viewers.

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