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The Indian Media Industry - Evolution and Way Forward

By Dorairaj Vembu, Senior Product Manager & Evangelist, Automotive, Consumer Electronics and IoT,Sasken

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Dorairaj Vembu, Senior Product Manager & Evangelist, Automotive, Consumer Electronics and IoT,Sasken

The Indian media and entertainment industry is likely to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 14.3 percent to reach 2.26 trillion (US$ 33.7billion) by 2020. Musicstudios, content distribution houses/music labels, broadcast houses like TV channels, FM Radio stations, etc. all form a key part of this value chain.

Traditionally, media was recorded in tapes/CDs in analog format and distributed through extensive networks of retail outlets located in prime areas for which media houses made massive investments in distribution infrastructure. Inventory management and control of distribution channels was a key to success.Revenue was generated through unit sales of these CDs/tapes. As a result, the rate of innovation in this industry was slow and there was a high barrier for entry.

The late 90s saw digitization of media and evolution of compact discs; media houses moved from analog tapes to selling CDs. The early 2000 saw proliferation of Mp3 content which resulted in massive piracy where any person could rip the CD, convert to Mp3 format and sell it. While traditional CDs could store only around 12 titles the new Mp3 format allowed storage of up to 120 songs in a single CD. This resulted in a massive revenue loss for the media labels.While the western world was able to ove rcome this through strict enforcement of copyright laws and rapid evolution of Internet, the media houses in India suffered a double whammy due to lax enforcement of copyright laws and slow growth of Internet. Finally, this sounded the death knell for many media labels who went out of business.

"The media industry, today, is technology driven and is witnessing a rapid pace of innovation. Expectations of users have also under gone a sea change"    

The rapid growth of Internet in India through affordable mobile devices has re-ignited the media industry. Internet has emerged as the key distribution channel. This has broken the huge entry barriers and of new players like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix who specialize in delivering high quality videos to consumer devices. So you can legally watch the latest flicks on your personal device within a few weeks of their release. On the music side players like Gaana, Hungama, and Saavn have emerged to offer similar services.

The media industry, today, is technology driven and is witnessing a rapid pace of innovation. Expectations of users have also undergone a sea change. Gone are the days where one's listening is limited by what they own. Today, a consumer wants to play content on the mobile where immersive audio is delivered through the high definition speakers in the car and wants to seamlessly resume the playback on the Hi-Fi systems at home with minimal intervention.

 At the play back device side, we are seeing emergence of voice activated  controls. So you don’t have to reach out for that elusive remote any more. Just speak out your command for your TV to listen and act on. 

On the business side, we are  witnessing an emergence of subscription-based models where users pay a fixed subscription fee and can consume as much as they want instead of limiting their choice to a few purchased albums. Enabling these experiences are new eco system players such as mobile operators, analytics providers, and content delivery network (CDN) providers who are key to ensure that the right type of content reaches the targeted audience. This requires any media firm to establish partnerships withkey ecosystem players to accomplish the above and deliver superior user experience.

The key to success in today's media industry is providing immersive user experience, understanding user preference based on their usage, and providing content based on their consumption pattern.
The user experience in the end device (typically a mobile phone) is the key to retaining user interest.
1. Developing immersive user experience on end device without compromising on user experience. 
a. On the front end it involves innovative user experience design that facilitates ease of content discovery and play back.
b. At the back end it involves adapting the play back to various network conditions (gracefully degrade the playback without break when bitrate falls)

2. Investment in scalable architecture for content distribution so that the user experience does not suffer as the user base increases. 
3. Deployment of analytics to rapidly capture the user preference and translation of the same to actionable intelligence. This is required to sustain the user interest by constantly providing them with relevant content The Internet has opened multiple ways for consumption of media at home or on the move. This presents a great opportunity for media companies to monetize the trend by delivering content optimized for various devices. However, this requires the companies to adapt technology and new business models at a rapid pace since obsolescence rate in the industry is very high.

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