#Frames2013: Combination of data, bandwidth and content will be more valuable than oil: Ronnie Screwvala

15 Mar,2013

By A Correspondent


Assigned the task of providing a roadmap for the M&E industry to take itself into the next phase of growth, Ronnie Screwvala, MD, Disney UTV did a splendid job at that at the valedictory session on day 3 of FICCI Frames 2013.


Mr Screwvala began by presenting his observations about the trends that were witnessed across various domains and what was needed to take the growth to the next level. He said, “If we start with the assumption that we are growing at 12 per cent, then compared to the top 4-5 industries we are still growing lower than most sunshine industries. So if we want to be in the peg of those sunrise industries we cannot afford to grow at just 10 per cent. My sense is that there is a certain gap that we are missing between the phenomenal talent that we have in the industry when it comes to creating content and also the talent that we have to make commerce out of it. Somewhere down the line there is a sliver in which a lot of it goes away. Each of us needs to introspect as individuals and also players to bring about a genuine change.”


Elaborating on the big thing that has happened in the recent past, Mr Screwvala said, “A good thing that has happened in the recent past is the onset of digitisation that has had a huge impact on us. But I think we should hold on to popping the champagne as it will be another 2-3 years before the monetisation from this exercise comes about. So while we have made the investments the consumer doesn’t necessarily reflect them. But it’s good news that after 20 years of waiting the move has finally come to fruition.”


Where the issue of measurement is concerned, Mr Screwvala said that it is upon the industry to come together and solve the problem. “It is catastrophic to note that 70 per cent of television households are still not in the ratings scanner. I cannot understand how anyone can run a business if we still cannot scan such a huge population size. But, we have moved from 10 per cent to 30 per cent and that can be seen as the cup half-full.”


Where new media is concerned, Mr Screwvala added that there is a lot to celebrate about, but unfortunately we have not been able to monetise the medium. “The fact that we are going to be a 150-200 million smartphones market in less than 2 years, and the fact that large digital and mobile players look at this market as the second or third in the world is phenomenal. There is a need to take this growth further.”


Presenting his outlook on the other mediums, Mr Screwvala said that this is the only country where print as a medium is growing. “It speaks about the dynamism as far as the print market goes.”


“Also, we have been one of the largest DTH markets in the world but if you look at the foundation stone that has been laid for the sector and of you see the 4-5 year view, I feel we are heading in the right direction. But it is again a matter of seeing the glass half-full. There is obviously a lot to be done to derive more out of this medium,” said Mr Screwvala of the medium of DTH.


Moving on to a more important topic of regulation, Mr Screwvala was candid as he said, “The fact is that our country enjoys minimum regulation where the M&E industry is concerned and if we benchmark that against the outside world there is actually very little regulation that we go through. When it comes to censorship I believe it is not necessarily a regulatory challenge; it has actually become a democratic challenge, an environmental challenge and a political challenge. Most of the resistance to self-censorship comes from organisations that are not part of the regulatory framework. We have to look at how we can support the regulatory mechanisms.”


According to Mr Screwvala, “another big that has happened is that we have seen a massive audience democratization; it has flattened out. No longer can one sit out there and believe that a single advertising or media agency and a single marketing message os going to get anyone to consume anything else. Social media and word-of-mouth has made everything that is being created into a level-playing field. So while we are living in a competitive world we cannot undermine that thought process.”


“Also, the regional market has grown phenomenally and will continue to post that kind of growth in the next 5 years or so,” noted Mr Screwvala of the domain.


Moving on to the needle-movers, as Mr Screwvala put it, “the first thing is that we lack unanimity in this industry. Everyone has to look at what is going to be our contribution over the next 5 years to grow this industry further. We do work in competitive environments but we cannot be at loggerheads over 3-4 issues that emerge every year; we have to be a force to reckon with.”


Adding further he said that “the other thing is that there is going to be a lot of innovation and disruptiveness. There are very few innovations that have taken place in the recent past. We have to see how Apple-innovative or Amazon-innovative are we with our ideas and have to plan accordingly to take the industry forward in the future.”


He cautioned the audience saying that it is going to be very imperative for them to know the consumer. “It is something we take very lightly but it is a very difficult thought process. We have to make it a point to study our audience and see what they are going to require 4-5 years down the line.”


Summing up his address, Mr Screwvala said, “We all talk about the second television household but that will become irrelevant as it is going to be our personal screen. We will be surprised to see how consumers from all corners of India wake up to using mobile as their primary source for entertainment. The issue is going to be of bandwidth and pricing. As an industry we have to look at engaging a billion users, this medium is going to be the one that will help us achieve that target. The next ten years is going to be a combination of data, bandwidth and content, which will be more valuable than oil.”


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