Ag Voice | Television to Digital - Tomorrow's mediums

When YouTube first entered India, it didn’t really officiate itself until it was already a year and a half into the country. In the pre-smartphone era, the diaspora and the desktop reigned supreme, and it consumed all content, especially Bollywood gossip, with a voracious appetite.

There was no TrueView, and a glut of remnant inventory, gathered dust in agency offices. A place where the premise of watching streaming video on your phone was alien, and the idea of having any ads on it, let alone skippable ones, an absurdity.

It’s been 8 years. An entire industry has been born and scaling phenomenally.  A lot has changed in this time.

When was the last time you heard someone say video on the internet is just Cats on Skateboards?

The internet is a great leveller. It forges atoms into bits, which can be reproduced at zero cost, all bits are equal. Every idea, equal to another at birth.

The lines between premium and non-premium content is getting blurred by the day. The difference between audiences on TV and audiences on any other screen is on a slow but sure descent into irrelevance. There is only one grand prize, Attention, and in winning her hand, all screens are equal game.

The cable networks of the future are already here, and the 15 year old is already paying with his time. Indian television didn’t even put up a fight, we soothed our warts and let someone else figure out that “tech” stuff. Just give them the content, mark it under syndication, and the money will come in. Great news for platforms and great news for audiences.

It gave platforms like YouTube the critical mass to become a destination for programming, an equal ground for both Arnab and Arunabh, for Sonu Nigam and Hanu Dixit, Baby Doll and Baby Deol.

These platforms are the MSO’s of the future. Growing up, there was only one cable provider in the area who controlled eye balls and rates, and he was far less accommodating and friendly than the folks we interact with. It would be fool hardy to think the same of any existing monopoly for video distribution in the world’s largest youngest mobile first market.

No-one calls Star a Dish TV network, just like eventually no-one will call Digital Video Networks, YouTube MCN’s. Equating platforms to media is akin to say Yash Raj is a Movie Network for PVR and ticket sales are the ONLY way to make money. 

When Venkat and I took the leap to do Culture Machine, it came from the fundamental belief that there were new stories to be told and watched. Communities built around an infinite variety of programming for infinite tastes, all customised. A different definition of the mass. Our proprietary technology platform, production facilities, programming, audience development, marketing and promotions have enabled numerous creators to reach their audiences and tell their stories. This is an industry in the earliest days of it’s bloom. One where content matter as much as context. If you want an entry seat into all of tomorrow’s parties, look no further, you are already in.

The author of this article is Sameer Pitalwalla, CEO & Co-founder Culture Machine.


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