Siddhartha Roy, COO, Hungama Digital Media

The media and entertainment industry has been leveraging cutting-edge technology solutions to enhance user experience and monetise content. With the increasing adoption of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), machine learning (ML) and blockchain, organisations across the industry are exploring new sources of revenue and improving their business efficiency. However, challenges pertaining to cybersecurity still need to be addressed. Siddhartha Roy, COO, Hungama Digital Media, shares his views on the key ICT trends shaping the sector and the challenges along the way…

What are the key ICT/telecom technology solutions currently being deployed by your organisation?

At Hungama, big data, AI and ML are the major technology solutions that we deploy. Understanding consumer preferences and offering them relevant content is key in the OTT space. These tools assist us in predicting and understanding user habits, and in offering them personalised recommendations. Scaling up their deployment has proven to be extremely beneficial in enhancing user experience and keeping them entertained and engaged.

How are new-age technologies like AI, IoT, blockchain and AR/VR transforming the media and entertainment industry?

The OTT industry deals with a lot of data and these tools help in making that data comprehensible, helping us understand consumer preferences and consumption patterns better. Simultaneously, we are witnessing an increase in the adoption of automation processes across businesses. These have been instrumental in improving efficiency, reducing delivery timelines and making back-end operations more seamless and effective. By proactively adopting these innovative solutions, we, at Hungama, have reduced the response time, understood consumer preferences and trends better and improved engagement with our users.

What are some of the challenges faced while deploying these solutions? How are you addressing them at present?

Data and network consistency are the core foundations of any digital service. Despite the rapid proliferation of the internet in India, there are several areas in the country where networks are inconsistent. Building a better digital infrastructure in these pockets would help propel the digital industry. The OTT industry has tried to address the issue by allowing downloads and enabling offline viewing.

What opportunities and challenges has the ongoing Covid-19-induced lockdown brought forth for players in the sector?

The lockdown led to an increase in consumption on OTT platforms. With theatres shut and a lack of fresh content on television, users began to explore the libraries of OTT platforms, discovering shows and movies and catching up on content that they might have missed earlier. On Hungama Play, we have seen a 65 per cent increase in consumption since April. Further, our content strategy has ensured that we have a steady bank of original content, allowing us to offer our users a new show every four to six weeks. The lockdown has also created a habit of digital video consumption in the older audience, who were so far used to linear television. We are certain that most of these users will continue watching content online, helping us expand our audience universe.

Going forward, what are the key technology trends that will dominate the media and entertainment sector?

While big data, AI and ML will continue to dominate, AR and VR will also be utilised to enhance storytelling. Further, due to social distancing measures, we are likely to see the emergence of single-person stories and content that would require minimal human interactions, increasing the utilisation of technology that allows remote access and control.