January 2020



India's 3 mobile carriers hiked data tariffs by as much as 41% in December 2019.

In a country where most of the internet access is via mobile phones, the data tariff hike will almost certainly hit data consumption, via OTT and social media. Till now, users consumed mobile data without a second thought. All that has changed. "This is a challenge that will affect growth, as the mobile data boom has been a big factor driving adoption in India," said Utkarsh Sinha, managing director of Bexley Advisors, "The Indian user has largely used data like running water without thought," he added.

Netflix, Amazon & Hotstar will be the first casualties. new players like Apple TV+ will find it difficult to get their projected numbers. TikTok and social media video sites will also be hit as it becomes more expensive to watch on wireless devices, he said.

All this is good news for the wired broadband market run by MSOs & LCOs, as it will now charge more for its service.


Netflix lost 1.1 million subscribers in the United States to Disney Plus in November, according to analyst Cowen & Co.

Netflix could see churn of approximately 1.6 million subscribers during Q4 2019 as Disney Plus and Apple TV+ grab customers with their low-priced OTT offerings. But Netflix is expected to gain new subscribers even as it loses old ones, resulting in 7.6 million new subscribers in Q-4.

80% of Disney Plus subscribers have retained their Netflix subscriptions.


Prasar Bharti has launched its news app "NewsOnAir."

The app provides direct access to all its programs live as well as recorded.

Shailesh Malode, program executive at Prasar Bharati, Nashik said, "We are looking forward to a global outreach and hence Prasar Bharati has come up with a mobile app."

The app provides a choice of more than 25 languages & provides news both in the text & podcast formats.


The government has promised broadband access to all villages by 2022, as it launched the ambitious National Broadband Mission.

It involves laying of incremental 30 lakh route km of Optical Fiber Cable & double cellular tower density from 0.42 to 1 towers per '000 population by 2024.

Fiberisation of towers (essential for 5G) will be increased from 30% to 70%.

The mission envisages stakeholder investment of USD 100 billion (₹ 7,00,000 Crore) including ₹ 70,000 crore from Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).


Some Rajya Sabha members have blamed pornography for the increase in child abuse & rape cases, recently.

To curb this, Rajya Sabha Chairman, M Venkatesh Naidu has formed the committee to blocking pornographic content on websites and social media in India.

The committee with Jairam Ramesh, Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, Sukendu Roy, Tiruchi Siva & others will examine the impact of pornography and social media on kids.

The committee will hold discussions with TRAI, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and social media platforms TikTok, WhatsApp, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Sharechat.


Netflix is ramping up its spends to create Indian content. During his visit to India in December 2019, Netflix founder & CEO Reed Hastings said "We launched in 2016 and we have continued to invest. We have a lot of content from the United States, the UK and Spain. We are developing our Indian content here. This year and next year, we will spend about ₹ 3,000 crore developing content & you will start to see a lot of stuff hit the screens," he added.

Since launching here 4 years ago, Netflix has licensed hundreds of Indian films and shows, and invested in over 40 Netflix originals - almost all of which have been commissioned by Indian executives who live locally, know the culture and speak the language.

"The next 5-10 years will be the golden age of television. You are seeing unbelievable and unrivalled levels of investment. Partially from the global companies like Apple, Amazon, Disney and Viacom. There are all investing here in India as well as in the UK and the US. We are seeing more content made than ever before. It's a great export," Hastings said.


Indian women & mature audiences are shifting to OTT, according to a report by data & consulting firm Kantar. 58% of men watch OTT but their viewership growth has slowed down to 8%. In contrast, female viewership on OTTs has grown 14% from 2018. Currently, women represent 42% of OTT viewers. OTT viewer numbers has increased, but OTT consumers between the age of 15 to 34 have declined. This indicates that OTT viewers above 34 years of age have increased.

While the general notion is that consumers watch OTT content on the go, 87% of OTT viewers watch content at home as against 36% who watch it while travelling.

The also study pointed out that 60% of heavy TV viewers also watch OTT daily, thus adding to TV viewing, not cannibalising it.

The prime-time slot is now shared by TV & OTT. Between 8 pm to 12 am, 81% viewers are on OTT platforms and 76% watch television.

Regarding OTT Language preferences, 73% prefer Hindi, 72% Tamil. The other preferred languages are Telugu and Punjabi each at 46%, Bengali 45%, Marathi 25%, English 23% & Gujarati 17%.


Household broadband consumption in the US is anticipated to reach as much as 330 GB per subscriber during the current holiday season, according to OpenVault, a provider of technology solutions and industry analytics for broadband operators.

Based on past trends, OpenVault projects consumption will increase 19% between Q3 and the end of the Christmas/ January holiday season. During Q3 2019, the average was 275 GB per subscriber. The per subscriber holiday broadband consumption has risen from 38GB in 2012 to 270 GB in 2018.

Last year, OpenVault also noted a 5.3% increase in connected devices, during the Christmas quarter.


Google-owned video-streaming service YouTube has recorded 265 million monthly active Indian users. Also, more than 1200 YouTube channels from Indian creators have crossed the 1 million subscriber mark in 2019, (only 300 in 2018). 10% of these channels are run by women.

Satya Raghavan, Director - Content Partnerships at YouTube India said "We have a channel like TSeries, which has crossed 100 million mark and SET India (Sony Entertainment Television), which is over 50 million. There are many channels now with over 10 million subscribers and over 1,200 Indian channels, which now have over 1 million subscribers."

Regional content too has spurted. 2019 recorded 94 Tamil channels each with more than 1 million subscribers. Similarly, 60 Telugu channels, 35 Bengali channels and 15 Malayalam channels on YouTube crossed 1 million subscriber mark in 2019.


According to press reports, Indian OTT viewers have been complaining about Hotstar and SonyLIV for ages now, and yet there seems to be no improvement.

Live streams are broken every few minutes. Often, the stream stops working altogether until the end of the game (e.g. SonyLIV's stream of the Pakistan vs. Australia Test match simply did not start for the first 2 days of the 5 day match).

The audio volume during ads on SonyLIV is excessive.

Both Hotstar and SonyLIV offer poor user experiences for movies and TV shows as well. Scenes hot in the dark (e.g. Game of Thrones & Chernobyl) are almost unwatchable on Hotstar. Often Hotstar's content in 1080p HD on a home PC, just wont work, according to press reports.


Customers of ACT Fibernet can now pay their Netflix subscription as part of their monthly broadband bills. The facility is available to customers in Jaipur, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Warangal, Nellore, Guntur, Vizag, Eluru, Rajamundry, Vijaywada, Kakinada, Tirupati, Coimbatore, and Madurai.

Atria Convergence Technologies Marketing Head Ravi Karthik said, "Our customers will now be able to enjoy Netflix's incredible shows and films on ACT Fibernet's hi-speed and seamless network connectivity and also be eligible for a cashback of up to IN₹ 500 a month."


Oppo has unveiled plans for new products beyond the smartphone segment. They include 5G CPE, smartwatches, headphones, and AR glasses as well as new smartphone features in flash charging, 5G, imaging and software optimization.

CEO Tony Chen said Oppo plans to spend CNY 50 billion (USD 7 billion) on R&D in the next three years to develop core technologies in hardware, software and systems. This includes developments in 5G/6G, AI, AR, big data and other frontier technologies.

New products planned in Q1 2020 include a 5G home router.


Star India Chairman Uday Shankar has expressed hope that the recent hike in mobile charges, data will not become "unaffordable" and that content consumption will keep growing.

In December, 3 mobile operators hiked tariffs by 40% for prepaid customers. Mobile access accounts for 95% of OTT viewing.

He was speaking to the press after releasing Hotstar's "India Watch report 2019." The report said smaller centres are driving consumption on the back of cheap data.


Viacom18 has announced the launch of VOOT Kids, a Subscription Video on Demand (SVoD) service for kids.

VOOT Kids promises to offer both - Fun & Learning, at ₹ 99 per month or ₹ 799 per year.

Targeting kids aged between 2 to 12 year olds, the service will have more content for the preschoolers.

VOOT Kids will offer content from Nickelodeon, Oxford University Press, Warner Media, Green Gold, Ceebeebies, TV Asahi, Sony Music, Hasbro, Mattel, Lego and others for this service. "We practically have everything that is not Disney," said Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO & MD, Viacom18.

This is Viacom18's first subscription OTT service. The broadcaster's VOOT OTT is a free service. Gourav Rakshit, COO, Viacom18 Digital Ventures, said the foray into the subscription space with VOOT Kids is the first step in building an entire digital ecosystem under brand VOOT.


Kacific Broadband Satellites Group has selected Tata Communications to provide terrestrial connectivity services as it readies for the launch of its first satellite, Kacific-1. "Our high-speed broadband will reach people living across both the most remote rural locations and the most densely populated urban centres in the Asia Pacific region," said Kacific CEO, Christian Patouraux.

Tata Communications will provide global internet and state-of-the-art cyber security services for Kacific's Ka-band satellite network. Tata Communications' network reaches over 200 countries & serves over 7,000 customers globally, including over 300 of the Fortune 500. Tata Communications will provide multi gigabit connectivity with redundancy & security to Kacific, including the use of its subsea fibre network.

Kacific-1 is a High Throughput Satellite (HTS) that will use 56 high-power Ka-band beams to deliver affordable, high-speed broadband to telecommunications companies, internet service providers and governments in South East Asia and the Pacific.


The government said the Supreme Court order on adjusted gross revenue (AGR) will be applicable to all telecom licensees.

"While most of the licensees of DoT were not direct party to the dispute, the ratio of the judgement will be applicable on all the licensees," said communications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, answering a question in the Lok Sabha. The DoT website indicates 3,468 telecom licensees across the country.

This is the first time the government has confirmed that the apex court's ruling on the definition of AGR will also impact ISPs.

Worst hit would be companies for whom telecom is a small part of their overall business - like Power Grid Corporation.

Power Grid earns only 2% of its revenue from telecom services while power transmission accounts for nearly 95%. Its FY19 telecom business yielded ₹ 742 crore and ₹ 34,919 Crore from its core business. It will now have to pay 8% AGR on its total revenue of ₹ 35,661 Crore, ie the AGR will be ₹ 2,794 Crore, which is almost 400% of its telecom revenues!

There will be s significant amount payable by MSOs that offered broadband, like Hathway, for the period before they demerged their Cable TV & Broadband distribution operations into separate operational companies. This AGR ruling, in fact, was solely responsible for the discontinuation of Cable modems in India.


Fox Corp. will use Amazon's cloud service to deliver video to MSOs and OTT customers.

Under the multiyear deal, AWS Media Services will transmit Fox sports, news and entertainment content to television customers and streaming services. Amazon's tools will also help power Fox production facilities in Los Angeles, New York, Tempe, Arizona, and Charlotte, North Carolina.

Fox will use Amazon to replace a video infrastructure built mostly in the 1990s, before the emergence of online streaming or cloud computing, Paul Cheesbrough, Fox's chief technology officer, said. "At a technical level, we'll have a more agile infrastructure that can grow and adapt with our business," he explained, enabling quicker launch of new channels or products.

Amazon is the largest seller of cloud infrastructure services such as rented data storage and networking services.


In a move to do away with 'The Press and Registration of Books (PRB) Act, 1867', a British era regulation, the MIB has proposed a draft of the "Registration of Press and Periodicals Bill 2019."

The draft Bill states that "publishers of news on digital media shall register themselves with the Registrar of Newspapers of India".

The bill defines news on digital media as "news in digitised format that can be transmitted over the internet, computer or mobile networks and includes text, audio, video and graphics".

The draft Bill proposes to do away with the existing procedure of furnishing of declaration by publishers/ printers before the District Magistrate.

Comments have been invited from the public within 30 days. n