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Television needs to reinvent as a medium to thrive under OTT threat

Television as a medium is under threat with the advent of over-the-top (OTT) medium. Today, people have the opportunity to consume content at a time and place of their choice and are spoilt for choice thanks to both Indian and global OTT platforms.

Younger viewers are shifting away from television as the content the television offers does not suit them. While its revenues continue to grow, this growth is not guaranteed unless the television medium re-invents itself and stops the haemorrhage in its customer base. In 2020, as much as 5 million TV connections were dropped. The amount of people shifting to OTT has been rising sharply. It is estimated that 8 crore Indian stream content through 40 different platforms that are available today.

Under these circumstances what should television channels do to stay relevant. ‘The Home Box Office: Challenges and Opportunities for TV’ was the topic of discussion at Dakshin, the two-day South India Media & Entertainment Summit organised by CII in Chennai on Sunday.

Krishnan Kutty, Head – Disney India (Linear & Digital), Tamil, Malayalam, said that TV continues to be a great business to be in. It offers incredible content at an incredible price – 300 plus channel for ₹ 220 per month. Its operations are cost effective and no other medium can aggregate audience on a scale like TV. No wonder it continues to be ideal for most advertisers. He, however, admitted that there were challenges when it comes to targeting its audience better.

Dramatist & actor Y Gee Mahendra was more forthcoming when it comes to challenges the TV platform faces. He said that as an actor there is no challenge working in TV Serials. Content, he said, is stereotype and there is a strong hesitance to move out of the comfort zone when it comes to genre. There is a need for variety, he said, adding that there is no humour, thriller or sci-fi genres anymore. That is one of the reasons actors are shifting to OTT for challenging roles.

T G Thyagarajan, Founder and Patron, Society of Television Producers of Southern India & Managing Partner, Sathya Jyothi Films, explained that over the years the way content is produced for TV has changed. Today, he said the TV channels fund the production and they retain the IP for it. This has also meant that the creativity is restricted. Producers do not have adequate creative freedom.

High interference
Agreeing with Thyagarajan, Khushbu Sundar, actor, producer & television producer, said the amount of interference is high. She also pointed out that when content fails to do well, only the producer is help accountable. It will be better if channels also take up some responsibility, she said.

Responding to the criticism, Kutty said that TV was a competitive world and channels take a big financial risk. Many a times, he said, producers do not plan effectively. They do not have a clear idea how the story will pan out after 20 episodes. On lack of variety, he said that he was proud of the family dramas that dominate the content in TV. “It connects well with the audience and we are not ashamed of it,” he added. Navaneeth LV, CEO, THG Publishing Pvt Ltd moderated the discussion. The Hindu BusinessLine

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