I hate watching television on TV. It's weird  because watching TV when I was younger was quite literally a highlight in my day as I'd literally have to fight my mother for an hour with the idiot box. However, now that I'm welcome to the 'on' switch anytime I want, it's just not my cup of tea. Like many other people in the 'download' generation, I watch most of my TV on the internet. When I lived abroad, Hulu and Netflix were dear friends of mine and I didn't even have to own a television. And here, I'm reduced to streaming western content on sites like megavideo. But what about Indian content and less shady channels for Western content?

Individual channels like Colours do put a lot of their content, including full length episodes, online and this is definitely a positive move forward. However, the views on their episodes range from 22 to 345 on recent uploads. What would be highly beneficial to both entertainment companies as well as individual users, woulde be the introduction of content aggregator sites like Hulu which is already known (in the west)  for carrying the most up to date content with good quality streaming. Hulu was created by two media giants, Fox and NBC. Eventually ABC and CBS got into the site as well and it's now a one stop shop for keeping up with all kinds of television shows and movies. Netflix started out as solely a DVD rental company but branched into online streaming of entire seasons of shows from both the past and present. How great would it be to have services like that in India, as a collective effort by our media giants, but streaming both Indian and international content in one place. I can tell you, I would be an exteremely frequent visitor.

A screenshot of Arrested Development streaming on Hulu.com

A screenshot of Arrested Development streaming on Hulu.com

Of course, since we don't live in a perfect world, or rather, a country of perfect internet connections, online streaming of video content is an issue of scrutiny. Internet speeds and bandwidth limitations, and the lack of consistency thereof prove a major obstacle in putting content online for streaming and watching content in the highest quality possible. My solution to this problem would be to charge higher for advertising. Hulu makes its money through the limited commercials that it carries and now Hulu Plus, which is a subscription based service. I'm sure if a siginficant amount of demographic studies and research is conducted, it would make sense to believe that users who have decent enough internet speeds would be regular consumers of such a service. Targeting that demographic with advertising would be a streaming portal's allure for advertisers. Put 2 and 2 together, and you could have a winner. 

Another issue facing internet streaming is intellectual rights and properties for digital content. The reason Hulu and Netflix (and even Pandora for that matter), don't work overseas is because a system of international digital rights hasn't been cracked yet, even though syndication rights have. An online streaming portal would work better (albeit more expensive to maintain), if both Indian and Western content was present in the same place. However, it might even be easier for an Indian company to figure out international digital rights with foreign studios, creating deals that work, than the studios themselves creating blanket rights. If they're already streaming Indian content and have a strong foothold in the Indian market (which no doubt, they will) the system would surely work.

So what I'm saying is, Indian media companies need to use the internet for more than just marketing their shows on television. While it is a step in the right direction to have entire episodes of shows online, a collaborative effort between media companies to make content available for streaming on one portal would have a far greater effect and me as a regular consumer.  What do you think?

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