With the convergence of the telecom business with media and entertainment, it’s been a rollercoaster ride for consumers. Prices have fallen dramatically for data as well as content, they are spoilt for choice and new technologies like Over The Top (OTT) are changing viewing habits and making them more mobile.
Despite initial assessments that the price war is over, Jio from the Reliance stable has unleashed a new war by offering 4G feature phones virtually free (they have no competitors) to convert more and more subscribers from no- and low-data devices. As a result, data prices this year fell more than 95 per cent from two years ago, video watch time went up 10 times over mobile data and YouTube saw monthly active users double during the period. With over 250 million OTT users, mobile devices are already replacing the second TV at home.
The new challenge has also compelled telcos like Jio and Airtel to straddle the content space. The former is buying stakes in content or distribution companies (like Balaji and Eros), the latter forging partnerships with Zee or Netflix. And media companies like Zee, which understand content, are looking at offering strategic stake to global players to strengthen their technology and take on the might of telcos with their artificial intelligence algorithms which are being used to get a deep understanding of the consumer. But content is expensive so companies have to be ready with deep pockets next year to sustain the battle.