Whether one likes it or not, India will soon have level playing field in policy and regulations for the media and digital platforms. This is very clear from signals left by policymakers in various sessions. After years of dilly-dallying, there will be light touch regulation beyond the self-regulation call by the industry.
Technological changes will outpace regulation, so it would be optimal to create a negative list (No Go list). Like how Singapore has done. Outside this list, any platform can function without other regulations.
Many in the industry don’t want regulation (specifically on content) in the OTT space. However, they have no issues with regard to investments, protection of investments, piracy and digital platforms.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Ministry of Finance and NITI Aayog are on consensus to grant infrastructure status to the broadcasting sector. For this, stakeholders should arrive at a common understanding on what infrastructure will be covered and definition of infrastructure. Once infrastructure status is granted, broadcasters and distribution platforms will be aided with affordable financing options.
Industry leaders estimated that Media and Entertainment Sector in 2020 will shrink to $15 billion from $20 billion in 2019 because of COVID-19. Around 20% of workforce may lose jobs, impacting nearly a million people.
The film, television and online video services industry in India generated a total economic contribution of $49.8 billion and 2.6 million in 2019, says a report by Deloitte, Producers Guild of India and MPA. The report indicates a growth of 61% in these sectors.
The demand for content streamed via OTT is increasing day by day in India. Today, India ranks number two in digital video consumption in the world. With 8.43 hours of consumption per person per week, the second-most populous country is way above the global average of 6.8 hours. Can you imagine Amazon Prime has reach in 4000 towns and cities in India?
Sixty per cent of video streaming worldwide is on mobile devices. The game changer for the media and entertainment sector in the coming days will be 5G. Also, mobile and video gaming will be a huge market in coming years.
The Indian M&E industry is the biggest in the world by output, with over 5 lakh hours of television content made every year, 80,000 newspapers published daily, and more than 2,600 feature films produced each year – 98% of all these outputs are shaped and made in India.
Businesses will have to develop consumer trust in brands, as “trust” will play a major role in post pandemic world. This will require businesses to build social platforms based on freedom of speech.
To accelerate filmmaking and fillip to the Indian media and entertainment sector, Government of India is coming up with incentives in all sectors, including TV serials, filmmaking, co-production, animation and gaming.
It is not OTT versus cinema theatres. But OTT and theatres coexist together. Some of the biggest proponents of OTT are waiting to watch movie in big screen. And Christopher Nolan’s Tenet is their first choice.
Unlike a few countries like the UK, which has done a $ 1.5 billion to the creative sectors, India as a country might not be in a position to do so at this point of time. Indian M&E industry sought help from the government to provide access to capital. The organized verticals within the media and entertainment industry require capital today.
The actors and technicians still don’t feel safe to come on board for shooting. Everyone wants to make a creatively good product. So when we are working on a film, if the creativity quotient is removed and are only constantly worried about sanitization and other stuff and your whole mind is of that, then you will not creatively come out with a great product.
There’s no doubt today that Indian cinema is India’s soft power and that our films are seen in over 100 countries. Thanks to OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime, it is instantly visible and experienced now.
While Indian content reaches 100 countries with streaming platforms, smaller countries like South Korea, Israel, Turkey have bigger media businesses with their content travelling globally. Indian films and TV dramas do not travel globally because of the ambitions set are small. The immediate priority is to focus on India’s content to be consumed globally.