Technology has been evolving at a frightening pace since the past decade or so, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Did you ever think, at a time when Pentium IIIs and clock speeds were King, that a day would come when we’d see powerful dual-core processors in mobile phones? That the touchscreen revolution would get this far, or that Tablet PCs would get this big?
If you didn’t, it seems you weren’t alone. I certainly didn’t think I’d be using a 10Mbps uncapped broadband connection! And the Indian entertainment industries, judging by their sluggish response to all the advancements, probably didn’t anticipate them either. More content distribution channels equal more avenues for what they create to reach the masses, and therefore more revenue channels. The concept seems to be lost on them, though.
The music industry probably has had the most to lose/gain from this. Increased broadband penetration has predictably led to rampant piracy, and with tiny file sizes, music is probably among the top if you were to draw up a list of things most pirated. Conversely though, that very same file size makes it easier to draw more revenue from the web if only the industry convinces the user to buy legit. Saregama’s trying to do just that, offering single tracks for Rs. 10, which pretty much is peanuts. Offering high quality Mp3 tracks at that low a price should encourage more people to purchase songs and support the industry, and I hope to see the rest of the music labels following suit with their own services like this one and possibly even move into the cloud someday.
Padmini already spoke about streaming of television content last week. However, a model like Crunchyroll’s, which subtitles Anime for streaming to the west, could be hugely beneficial for Indian television as well. Besides, I’m shocked to notice that I haven’t seen a single DVD or Blu-Ray boxset of an Indian show available, apart from Ramayana or Mahabharat. I know the people working in these places aren’t stupid and I’m sure this has come up in internal discussions multiple times, but I just don’t see any valid reason to not distribute episodes on physical media at all. Sure, there may be issues of insufficient demand, or the logistic complexities of releasing boxsets for shows that run into hundreds of episodes but come on, you’re pretty much ignoring a perfectly proven moneymaking medium and instead relying completely on advertising.
That's what technology can do
The movie industry is another headscratcher. Nearly every movie makes it out on DVD today, and some even make it onto Blu-Ray, but the adoption rate needs to be much faster and also include past releases. The argument might be that there simply aren’t enough people with access to Blu-Ray drives, but one of the major reasons people don’t get a Blu-Ray drive is that there simply isn’t enough content available for the format. It’s a vicious circle, sadly. Again, the streaming argument pops up here, too.
The reason I’m singling out the Indian industries is because their western counterparts have been adapting at a much faster rate. iTunes and the Zune Marketplace provide great examples for the Indian music scene to follow, and in the same way Netflix and Hulu for television and movies. Warner recently started offering their movies as apps for the iPhone and iPad, and the Denzel Washington starrer ‘Unstoppable’ had a special Android version released.
India has a lot of platforms like these, too. There are Indian versions of the Xbox LIVE Marketplace and PlayStation Network, which be used as content delivery platforms. Microsoft and Sony have been pushing their consoles as media consumption devices anyway. Nokia’s Ovi Music Store is active in India, so there’s another one – not to forget Apple’s App Store or Google’s Android Market. Content on Demand hasn’t been utilized properly either, and with increased DTH penetration in the country, now is as good a time as any to get on the task.
It annoys me no end when I see people whining about the state of whatever entertainment industry they’re in, or about how much losses are being made. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that industries with no forward thinking, which are using the web simply as a marketing tool – focusing all their attentions on creating things like Facebook fan pages or Twitter accounts – and refusing to acknowledge its potential as a content delivery platform are getting their just desserts. And they’ll continue to do so unless they wake up and do something soon.
Technology is evolving too quickly to be following in its footsteps from a safe distance. Don’t get left behind, guys – eating dirt can’t be all that great a feeling.