#NAMA: Future of Content and Payments on 4G was supported by content delivery network and cloud computing services provider Akamai Technologies.
When it came to offline viewing, there was much debate whether it was a passing phase. Uday Sodhi, head of Sony LIV felt that offline viewing was an intermediary model. “Networks are choked. Hopefully in some point of time with 4G and other network improvements, these things should sort themselves out. This is the pager before the mobile. I don’t know if they’re long term models,” he added.
However, it was pointed out that apart from monetization, encouraging offline viewing could help in optimization of networks. That way, the need for fat pipes for video consumption of video can be reduced.
Gaurav Gandhi, head for VOOT, Viacom18’s streaming service, also pointed out that India has a huge side loading business. Side loading refers to adding videos on SD cards and memory drives from a computer. “Offline viewing is not necessarily downloading in India. Sideloading business in India has been very high for a long time in India. People who side load content are paying around Rs 20. But the person who is side loading it is doing it illegally.”
He added that it could represent a huge opportunity fore rural India where network connections are often patchy. “The challenge is of monetization and of DRMs to make sure that content is secure. If you are a long form content player like us and many others, you could give an entire series for the guy. Actually it could work as a two-tiered model. The guys who are paying for content get ad-free, offline etc . In my mind, it is here to stay,” he added.
Need for data prices to come down
India is broadband growth is currently being fueled by telecom operators and there is a need to bring down data prices for consumption of video. There is a trend that video is moving to longer form of content. Karan Bedi, chief operating officer at Eros Now highlighted the problem. “In the last two years there was a lot of thinking on the kind of content that would be consumed on the Internet. That there will be these 30 second funny videos. While we found that there is an audience for that, our business, which is movies, is seeing a lot of growth. Even as a personal user, I watch my content on some IP connection,” Bedi said.
“And even the ARPU (average revenue per user) in DTH in India is Rs 200 and Rs 500 at the maximum. If you buy an Internet connection in India for Rs 500, you get maybe 2GB of data. And 2GB on 2mbps streaming is perhaps good for two hours? So you’re asking someone to pay Rs 500 to access two hours of video. So it almost doesn’t even matter what you price your service at. The cost has to be at least 10 x lower,” Bedi added.
“For all of this to grow and fructify, you need reliability , hardware and software. But you really need a sensible pricing mechanism on data. I really see that as one of the large challenges in the short run. The other thing is that this is mobile first market and if you look at the data from Netflix etc, 70% of their consumption happens on fixed line broadband,” Gandhi added to the conversation.
Pains in recurring payments in India
“Like Netflix, we’ve also been trying to get a recurring subscription in place, but that’s such a hurdle in this country because of the OTP requirements. We had gone ahead and done that and there is a subscribe button there. And we get a message that this is not an RBI approved transaction because we haven’t got an second factor of authentication,” Amin explained.
Probir Roy, co-founder of Paymate, pointed out that there has been a change and users can now leave standing instructions for these. “There are a lot of payment gateways which allow standing instructions where your card details are maintained. which you approve. In fact, with one video streaming service, I called them up and asked how they pushed the transaction, they said that the user will just have to say yes and the subscription is renewed.”
“It’s just the tip of the iceberg, it’s not iStore or Amazon, but it’s getting there. The RBI has some rules on storing information – PCI DSS etc – and you can circumvent the second factor of authentication,” Roy added.