Convergence Plus
Sunday, August 9, 2020
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, 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)

How subscription model is a test of loyalty for companies like Netflix, Hotstar

How subscription model is a test of loyalty for companies like Netflix, HotstarHarsha Annadurai does not like pirated content. It is no surprise, then, that he is a big fan of video and audio streaming services. So much so that the 23-year-old is a subscriber to Netflix, Hotstar, Amazon Prime and Apple Music. That may seem like a lot of subscriptions but it is not. Just ask around and you will find more people with as many or even more media subscriptions. What’s more, streaming platforms, or media broadly, are not the only services Indians are subscribing to these days. Annadurai, for instance, paid Rs 1,899 in February for an annual subscription to Zomato Gold.

With this, he could get two drinks free on an order of as many drinks or 1+1 on food at select restaurants. “I’m pretty sure I saved that money in the first two months,” says Annadurai, who works for a Bengaluru-based marketing software startup. Zomato Gold is available in 20 cities and has over 6 lakh subscribers.

In the pre-internet age, subscriptions were largely limited to newspapers and magazines. But now, besides the likes of Netflix and Zomato Gold, you can subscribe to a range of products and services — from artisanal coffee to cosmetics, cold-pressed juice to cars.

While there is no data available on the overall subscription market in India, since it is in its early stages, it is clear that more and more brands want in on it, helped in no small measure by the wide variety of payment options. It is a true test of consumer loyalty, especially monthly subscriptions. If the subscriber does not see value in it, she is not going to renew it, which means brands have to constantly measure up to expectations.

Video and audio streaming services have to be credited with getting Indians comfortable with subscription. Revenues from subscription to streaming platforms are set to grow five times, from Rs 390 crore in 2017 to Rs 2,100 crore in 2020, according to a report by Ficci, an industry body, and EY, a consultancy.

In 2017, there were 87.6 million music streaming users, more than a third of whom were subscribers, according to the Ficci-EY report, and 27.1 million video streaming users in India, according to Statista. It is not clear how many video subscribers there are in all. But according to IHS Markit, a market research firm, Netflix had 5.2 lakh subscribers in India at 2017-end, and Amazon had 6.1 lakh. Hotstar has 1.6 million, according to the Financial Times. Netflix is the priciest of all three, with its monthly subscriptions ranging from Rs 499 to Rs 799.

Amazon and Hotstar charge Rs 129 and Rs 199 a month, respectively, and Rs 999 for an annual subscription. An Amazon Prime subscription includes faster delivery and its video and audio streaming services.

Subscribing to all these may not really come cheap but people like Annadurai find a way around it by sharing it with friends and family. Annadurai shares his Netflix subscription with three friends and has opted for the six-member family plan of Apple Music, at Rs 199/month. A recent survey of over 1,800 video streaming subscribers in India by Pixights, a research and consultancy firm, found that 80% of them share their subscription.

If streaming services are in some sense an extension of cable TV, then gyms have given way to niche fitness centres and apps. Cult, cofounded by Mukesh Bansal of Myntra fame, offers subscriptions ranging from Rs 14,990 for 3 months to Rs 36,990 a year to its fitness centres. GoQii, which competes with Cult for your fitness budget, bundles plans with its wearable device, starting at Rs 1,999 for 3 months and going up to Rs 5,999 for 12 months. A fitness coach stays in touch with the subscriber through the GoQii app. (Source: Economic Times)

Netflix to produce more original Indian titles

Netflix to produce more original Indian titles Lines up 21 new productions, including series and movies SINGAPORE, NOVEMBER 9. Riding high on the success of its first original series, Sacred Games’ in India, media-tech giant Netflix Inc plans to double its expansion in the market. Responding to a query from BusinessLine, Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer,said, “You have seen the impact of ‘Sacred Games’ and it is the testimony to the production value and quality of story telling that differentiates Netflix from other services. That is something that we are going to double and triple down on by expanding our regional investments dramatically in the next few years.”

The Los Gatos-headquartered company had announced the production of its first ever original Indian series ‘Sacred Games’ starring Saif Ali Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui in 2016. In the same year it announced its first original movie ‘Love Per Square Feet’. The company has a line up of about 21 new productions, a combination of series and movies, for the next one year, adding the total number of original Indian titles to 28.

According to Sarandos, India is witnessing a growth similar to the growth that Brazil saw seven years ago and that Netflix’s plan to acquire the next 100 million subscribers would come with a focus in India, Korea and Japan. At present, it has about 60 million subscribers in the US market and about 70 million in the international market. The company doesn’t share its country specific subscriber base.

However, industry experts, say that the subscriber base in India would be much less given the fact that its pricing is expensive and largely restricted to the metro cities at a time when its competitors Amazon, Hotstar and Zee5 have been playing a volume game with low pricing strategy. Amazon Prime charges about Rs 999 per year while Netflix’s subscription starts from Rs 500 per month. While Amazon with 10 million subscribers, is yet to break even in the Indian market, Netflix has already turned profitable.

According to its financial data sourced from Tofler, Netflix has reported a profit of ₹20.2 lakh in fiscal year 2018. Its revenues stood at ₹58 crore. However this numbers are only for seven months since September last year.

The company will also focus a lot on regional movies, with the first onea Marathi movie called ‘15th August’, produced by actress Madhuri Dixit. It is also making a multilingual prequel of the blockbuster fantasy period drama ‘Bahubali- Before the beginning’. The company’s immediate release next month is Rishi Kapoor starrer Rajma Chawal. Its previous movies include Ghoul, Brij Mohan Amar Rahe, Little Things and Brahman Naman.(Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

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