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Saturday, September 19, 2020
Disney testing a new ‘Group Watch’ feature for Disney Plus

HealthifyMe Disney is slowly rolling out a new ‘Group Watch’ feature for Disney Plus users that lets users watch content together. Screenshots of the new feature were shared on Disney Plus’ subreddit which was first reported by the Verge. According to the screenshots, up to six people can watch content together on Disney Plus

The media giant is currently beta testing the feature in Canada according to the subreddit. This was then confirmed by The Verge which reported that the company is likely to roll the feature out to other markets this fall.

All six participants should be Disney Plus subscribers in order to use this feature.

Amazon has been testing a similar feature for users in the US for its Prime members called Watch party, as per the report. Up to 100 members can watch content on Prime Video with friends using the feature provided that each member has a US-based Prime subscription.

Apart from this, streaming platforms have also partnered with third-party service providers for similar group streaming services. For instance, WarnerMedia, Disney, and Netflix have partnered with Scener to let subscribers watch HBO, Disney Plus, and Netflix together. (Source: The Hindu Businessline)

Samsung Electronics Wins $6.6 Billion Verizon Order for Network Equipment

HealthifyMe Samsung Electronics said on Monday it had won a $6.64 billion order to provide wireless communication solutions to Verizon in the United States, a major win for the South Korean firm in the next-generation 5G network market.

Samsung’s global prospects for its network business have improved following U.S. sanctions on its bigger rival Huawei [HWT.UL], analysts said.

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg told CNBC in July last year that Verizon does not use any Huawei equipment. Verizon had already been a Samsung customer before the order.

Verizon is believed to be Nokia’s biggest customer, JP Morgan research said in a July note.

“Samsung winning the order from Verizon would help the company expand its telecom equipment business abroad, potentially giving leverage to negotiate with other countries,” said Park Sung-soon, an analyst at Cape Investment and Securities.

The order is for network equipment, a Samsung spokesman said. The company declined to comment on detailed terms the contract such as the portion of 5G-capable equipment included.

“With this latest long-term strategic contract, we will continue to push the boundaries of 5G innovation to enhance mobile experiences for Verizon’s customers,” Samsung said in a statement. Samsung said in a regulatory filing the period of the contract, which Samsung’s U.S. unit signed with Verizon Sourcing LLC, is from June 30, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2025.

Samsung had a 3% market share of the global total telecom equipment market in 2019, behind No. 1 Huawei with 28%, Nokia’s 16%, Ericsson’s 14%, ZTE’s 10% and Cisco’s 7%, according to market research firm Dell’Oro Group.

The Trump administration last month unveiled plans to auction off spectrum previously dedicated to military purposes for commercial use starting in mid-2022, to ramp up fifth-generation network coverage in the United States.

The next-generation 5G wireless network is expected eventually to connect and enable high-speed video transmissions and self-driving cars, among other uses.

Britain in July ordered Huawei equipment to be purged completely from its 5G network by the end of 2027, adding it needs to bring in new suppliers like Samsung Electronics and Japan’s NEC . Samsung Electronics shares rose 2% compared to the wider KOSPI’s 0.5% climb. (Source:News18)

Government makes education accessible with PM eVIDYA; to launch dedicated TV channels

HealthifyMe Radio, community radio and CBSE podcast 'Shiksha Vani' will be widely used to make education more accessible. Special TV channels will be started for the students of the country. Under this proposal, one dedicated TV channel per class from class 1 to class 12 will be started for students to study online.

This has been launched under a comprehensive initiative called Pradhan Mantri e-VIDYA. Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank said on Sunday, "On behalf of the students, parents and teachers of the country, I thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, for launching Pradhan Mantri e-VIDYA which is a comprehensive e-learning platform."

Nishank said in a tweet, "Radio, community radio and CBSE podcast 'Shiksha Vani' will be widely used to make education more accessible."

He said, "Special e-content for visually impaired and hearing-impaired children, developed on a digitally accessible information system and learning material for disabled children in sign language has been made available on the NIOS website and YouTube." (Source: Economic Times)

Falling revenues prompt FTA channels to seek a waiver of carriage fees

HealthifyMe A consortium of FTA channels have written to to I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar. A consortium of Free To Air (FTA) channels has appealed to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to have their channels placed on Prasar Bharati’s DTH platform DD Free Dish.

As the advertising revenue has fallen over 80 per cent, FTA channels have been struggling to stay afloat. In a letter to Prakash Javadekar, I&B Minister, the consortium has said that commercial advertisements are the sole revenue stream for FTA to support its costs of content, operations, carriage, marketing and transmission.

The letter says that the channels are struggling to deal with the steep de-growth, and that the commercial viability and sustainability of FTA channels needs to be taken into consideration, especially with the government's vision of making entertainment freely accessible to all socio-economical classes through the DD Free Dish platform.

The communiqué goes on to say the FTA channels had also reached out in their individual capacity as early as the end of March, to request DD Free Dish to waive carriage fees for a quarter (April, May and June) owed by them, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Govt’s relief is not enough
Noting that a letter was received offering a deferred payment schedule — in lieu of the waiver of three months outstanding payments sought for — the consortium says the relief granted by the government would not serve the purpose, and would instead put additional hurdles in their path. The letter further highlights the plight of few channels recently launched on April 1, 2020, which have been facing the brunt with no revenues.

Given the adverse business environment, and with revenues eroded, the letter has asked for a waiver of 100 per cent carriage fees due to Prasar Bharati for the first quarter (April, May and June) and 50 per cent for the second quarter (July, August and September) for channels who have secured MPEG-2 slots on Prasar Bharati’s Free Dish Platform, during the recently held 44th E-auction. (Source: The Hindu Businessline)

Digital media to garner 65% of ad investment in India this year: GroupM

Print still relevant to advertisers wanting to build credible brands. Advertising investment in India is set to soar to ₹91,641 crore this year, representing an estimated growth of 10.7 per cent for 2020, according to GroupM, the media investment group of WPP, in its advertising expenditure (adex) forecasts for 2020.

Even with an overall slowdown in the global economy, Indian media spends are expected to be between low to moderate in H1, with robust growth anticipated in H2 2020. India is the eight-largest market globally and is the largest contributor to incremental ad spends.

Right behind UK and USA, India will retain its position, with China dropping to the fourth spot, said GroupM.

Prasanth Kumar, CEO, GroupM South Asia, said that while global adex is set to grow by 5.1 per cent, the Indian media landscape is constantly evolving and will witness the fastest growth. “While we expect sustained and stable investment across media in India, digital will garner 65 per cent of incremental ad spends in 2020,” he told a section of the audience at a meet in Mumbai.

The growth of digital is set to soar high because of changing consumer habits, with digital securing the number two position as the most-used media vehicle and estimated to reach 30 per cent of ad spend in 2020. Growth is expected from 3Vs (video, voice, vernacular-Indic) and advertising on e-commerce.

Sidharth Parashar, President - Investments and Pricing, GroupM India, added that though the format of print storytelling has been changing, content continues to be the strongest. “With print media organisations undergoing transformation across India, publication houses have invested heavily in promoting digital subscriptions and have started limiting access to digital versions of e-papers.”

Print will continue to remain relevant to advertisers wanting to build credible brands, the report noted. (Source: The Hindu Businessline)


Netflix Revenue Soars on Local Content, Marketing

Reports a net profit of ₹5.1 crore in FY19 as co adds subscribers. The Indian unit of Netflix Inc, the world’s largest online video streaming company, grew more than 700% during 2018-19, helped by expanding local content and marketing blitzkrieg that helped bring subscribers.

Netflix India reported revenues of ₹466.7 crore for FY19 with a net profit of ₹5.1 crore, according to its filing with the registrar of companies sourced from Veratech Intelligence.

In FY18, Netflix India had a turnover of ₹58 crore with ₹20 lakh net profit, which reflected financials for seven months starting September last year after the actual transfer to local distribution entity from Singapore.

“A combination of factors including original content for India, partnership with Airtel for better access to market and fixing payment issues helped Netflix,” said Mohit Yadav, founder of Veratech. “All this combined with new low cost-based variants for a price-sensitive Indian market is the reason behind Netflix's phenomenal growth.”

While the California-based company entered India in January 2016 as part of its global rollout, Netflix was registered as a limited liability partnership (LLP) in the country in April 2017 when it started commissioning content.

Since the company doesn’t share region wise content cost or amortisation ratio, it is difficult to ascertain operating profitability in the market.

Netflix India did not respond to an ET query as of press time Sunday.

The number of digital video viewers in India continues to grow as cheap data plans flood a country of 1.3 billion people, say experts. The country currently has more than 300 million online video viewers, and it’s expected to reach 550 million by FY23. There are 39 companies offering video streaming services, up from nine in 2012. Netflix has low digital video viewers in the country compared to rivals due to its relatively high prices and low amount of local-language content. Its monthly subscriptions start at ₹500, which doesn’t allow simultaneous viewing. Higher plans (₹650 and ₹800) allow for multiple users and simultaneous viewing.

Star India’s streaming platform Hotstar, which controls nearly three fourth of the market, offers a VIP plan for ₹365 a year and premium plan at ₹999 per year, while Amazon Prime Video has a monthly plan of ₹129 and annual of ₹999. The entry of Apple TV+ at ₹99 per month and launch of Disney+ next week are expected to make India a hotbed for content war.

While Netflix doesn’t share subscriber numbers of individual markets, industry estimates put the video streaming service’s Indian subscriber base at 1-1.2 million as of March 2019. The number has increased post July this year when the company launched a mobile only plan at ₹199 per month. (Source: Economic Times)


Foreign investors likely to invest Rs 18,000 cr in Vodafone Idea rights issue

Foreign investors are likely to invest around Rs 18,000 crore in the rights issue of Vodafone Idea, which includes a major chunk from promoter Vodafone Group, sources said. The company’s Rs 25,000 crore rights issue will open on April 10.

“Vodafone Idea had approached government for FDI approval. The proposal has received clearance from Cabinet. It is expected that Rs 18,000 crore during the rights issue will come from foreign sources,” an official said. Any foreign funding above Rs 5,000 crore requires Cabinet approval. The Cabinet had on February 28 cleared the company’s FDI proposal.

The promoter shareholders -- Vodafone Group and Aditya Birla Group -- have reiterated to the board that they intend to contribute up to Rs 11,000 crore and up to Rs 7,250 crore respectively, amounting to total of Rs 18,250 crore, as part of the rights issue. While Vodafone Group’s entire funding will be considered as foreign investment in the rights issue, Aditya Birla Group may also route funds from its foreign entities, sources said.

The board of directors of Vodafone Idea on March 20 cleared the planned Rs 25,000-crore rights issue at a price of Rs 12.50 per equity share, a steep 61 per cent discount to the prevailing market rate. In a regulatory filing, the company had said the rights entitlement ratio has been fixed at 87 equity shares for every 38 shares held by eligible shareholders of the company on the record date, that is April 2, 2019. According to Citi Research, the successful completion of the capital raise would be positive for the company as it could strengthen the balance sheet, remove going concern risks, and help enhance network capacity and coverage. (Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

Indians pay more for Netflix than Japanese, Canadians but get less number of movies

Indians pay more for Netflix than Japanese, Canadians but get less number of moviesIn a list of top 10 cheapest countries to watch Netflix, India is at the last spot. Netflix India subscription plan, which begins at a monthly price of Rs 500, is however cheaper than the US and UK but is expensive than Japan and Canada. Netflix India’s library of movies and shows is also not as extensive, according to a report.

Although lower than major markets like the US, UK and European countries, video streaming platform Netflix is priced higher in India than 9 other countries, including Japan and Canada. According to a research report by Comparitech.com, Netflix’s India monthly subscription plan, which begins from Rs 500, is the 10th cheapest among a list of 24 countries.

A country-by-country comparison of Netflix subscription plans shows that the cheapest place to watch Netflix is Turkey. At a monthly cost of just $3.27, it is almost 60% cheaper than the US and UK. Turkey is followed by Argentina, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Colombia and Canada. “In fact, on a cost-per-month basis, the US and UK don’t fare too well, with the US ranking as the 26th cheapest place and the UK as the 25th. This is probably due to Netflix using the US, UK, Canada et. all to subsidize its growth elsewhere,” the report said.

The size of the Netflix library also varies from country to country. Due to its extensive library of anime, Japan has the largest number of movies and shows — about 6,000.

India, on the other hand, gets about 5,000 Netflix titles, out of which about 3,500 are movies.
The subscription plan of Netflix, which has already made a profit of Rs 20 lakh in its second year of India operations, has been debated as two of its closest competitors — Amazon Prime Video and Hotstar — have much cheaper plans costing Rs 999 per year.

The world’s No.1 OTT platform, which has announced that it has no plans to lower subscription rates in India, is however going to test mobile-only plan in some countries like Malaysia. If the mobile-only subscription plan works out in India, then the entry-level subscription plan may automatically become cheaper. The existing basic plan for Netflix, priced at Rs 500 per month, allows a subscriber to watch movies and shows on laptop, phone, tablet and even TV.

Netflix India has 5 web series and a feature film scheduled soon for release. The web series comprises sports drama Selection Day co-produced by actor Anil Kapoor arriving in December; feminist drama Leila directed by Deepa Mehta, adaptations of books Midnight’s Children and Bard of Blood—the latter stars Emraan Hashmi and is co-produced by Shah Rukh Khan—and Baahubali:Before the Beginning, a spin-off of the iconic film franchise. A feature film called Rajma Chawal directed by Leena Yadav will also stream soon. (Source:Mint)

Delay in BharatNet project leads to transfer of key officials at DoT

Delay in BharatNet project leads to transfer of key officials at DoTThe delay in the implementation of BharatNet project has led to Department of Telecom (DoT) Secretary Aruna Sundararajan taking tough action over the last few days. Between November 1 and 14, Sundararajan transferred eight senior officials, including Deputy Director Generals (DDG) and Joint Administrative Officers at DoT, to other departments or branches across States with immediate effect, sources told BusinessLine.

USOF connection
Most of the transferred officials were part of the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), and were among the keys persons in charge of the project, which is meant to connect all 2.5 lakh gram panchayats (GPs) in the country by March 2019.

The role of USOF, under the DoT, is to provide widespread and non-discriminatory access to quality information communication services (internet) at affordable prices to people in rural and remote areas.

The transferred USOF officials are SK Gupta, Senior DDG (Licensing Finance Policy, DoT headquarters); Mahmood Ahmed, Joint Administrator (USOF, DoT headquarters); Sudhir Bhandari, DDG (USOF); Lalit Gangal, DDG (USOF); and Mohammed Mahomood Ur Rehman, Director (USOF) – they have been transferred to other States or other branches in the DoT headquarters itself, sources said.

BusinessLine tried to reach out to some of these officials, but they were unavailable for comments.

The transfers came after many review meetings by both Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha and Secretary Sundararajan, in which they found poor operations and maintenance and utilisation of BharatNet infrastructure.

This also forced Sundararajan to also write a harsh letter on November 2 to both Sanjay Singh, CMD of BBNL, and Anupam Srivastava, CMD of BSNL, saying that extensive field reports found “non-functioning of connectivity provided in 80-90 per cent of the GPs as well as massive under-utilisation/non-utilisation of the project”.

Key infra companies
Bharat Broadband Network Ltd (BBNL) and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) are the main infrastructure companies under the government undertaking the project. However, as of October, only 1.15 lakh GPs are service-ready, and though clear utilisation target has already been set, the actual utilisation on the ground is understood to be less than 10 per cent of the target. (Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

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