Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Tata Sky Rises, ITV Stumbles

An Era ends an Era begins.

In India, Tata Sky launches the first Satellite based DTH Television distribution system. Coming on the back of analog terrestrial on which you essentially get government controlled content and Cable, which is a lawless world, where anything goes (the local cable guy decides what the neighbourhood gets to watch and a number of channels look like they've been filmed through a snowstorm), the DTH should find a readymade market for upscale consumers willing to pay for quality. Thereby slicing out a chunk of advertising revenues as well. Starting with 300 cities, the offering lets consumers have 55 channels for the equivalent of $5. Although IPTV operators are making noises about kicking off as well, Tata-Sky should have a lead of 5 years before Broadband penetration catches up. Also ironic given the doom and gloom surrounding the satellite industry worldwide.

At the same time, in the UK, Charles Allen prepares to leave the increasingly muddled ITV which with every passing day seems to be in no-mans land. Despite owning a number of valuable properties, the broadcaster seems to be in perpetual transition.

A key question may well be - how many broadcast channels of different hues is there really room for in future? Does ITV's future depend on its owning the "TV Drama" space? And is that really defendable? Is it a shifting target?

ITV would do well to cast it's eye over the future of entertainment drama. Which may well lie somewhere in an alternative reality environement with players, not viewers. Where people pay money to buy virtual provisions and equipment to act out their wars and their loves. And guess what! There's space for advertising there as well.

Another question worth asking is "Has ITV really taken advantage of its new Media opportunities?" The website is essentially a support for its Television programming as opposed to the BBC website, which is an independent news dissemination entity. The iTV Mobile site seems much the same - and there don't seem to be too many non-TV properties which have been adequately explored.

Friends Reunited which is a non-TV property doesn't seem to get much airtime on TV - which is the reverse cross media push one would expect. More than likely, its just me that's missed the ads or the programming. But its easy to create formats around school crushes and where they are now type programs.

Of course we know that good execution beats good strategy in these times of fast change and shifting industryscapes. ITV's website has a section on local news from where you cannot navigate back to the original ITV website. This is probably symptomatic of some of the challenges of ITV's structure where amidst the strategic reshuffling, execution becomes a victim.

A last thought. ITV isn't supported by license fee or public funds in the same way as the BBC. Why then is there such a strong UK focus? Whither globalization? Especially given the global nature of web properties, the dramatic influx of non-English people into the UK such as myself (Friends Reunited is useless for me), and the inroads that non-UK media has made into the local market - be it Yahoo, or Google, or CNN or Myspace. I wonder how many people in the UK download the John Stewart show from the Comedy Central website and if there are any comparable shows that the UK's leading commercial broadcaster has, which are accessible to people in the US or anywhere else in the world. Numbers anybody?


Blogger rangaraj said...

Ved, a correction - Tata Sky is not the first of the block for DTH services. There are two existing players - Zee (DishTV)
and Doordarshan (probably the first free to air DTH service)

10:44 PM  

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