“We support more than 800 television channels on set top boxes in households in North America, Western Europe and large parts of Asia while also supporting more than 5,000 live sporting events globally that are managed end to end by Tata Communications. The live video transmission is supported by Tata Communications from the venue to the respective broadcasters,” explained Dhaval Ponda, Global Head, Media and Entertainment Services, Tata Communications.
He went on to add that 750 of these 5000 plus events were being remotely produced, initially to cut overhead costs but the true benefit of this move was felt during Covid when people were unable to travel to the venues of the events.
“Remote production requires high touch, deep managed services and is sophisticated in terms of the technology involved. We expect these 750 remotely produced events to go in excess of 1800-2000 in the near future because the majority will be remotely produced wherein the commentator could be physically located in any country and there will be tools available to provide a local language track.”
Tata Communications had launched a 100G media backbone earlier this year to enable broadcasters, sports organizations, OTT companies, and E-sport businesses to offer streams with upto 4K UHD (Ultra-High-Definition). The company aims to take it up to 8K UHD.
Owing to Covid-19, Dhaval said that the company has witnessed that daily consumption shot up from 40-50 minutes to being in excess of 190 minutes a day in some markets.
“We have seen this across demographies,” he said. “Because of Covid-19 and the disruption to normal programming, people have gone in droves to streaming platforms.”
Another significant development has been that live content continues to be a crowd favourite. Something that people look forward to, enjoy and are ready to pay for.
“Delivering live sporting events going forward will also leverage a lot of technology and innovative inputs like remote production and virtual workflows,” Dhaval said. “Another aspect is the proliferation of different forms of content. We have seen that short form content, like those videos that are less than a minute, doing very well where people watch videos in succession. The average engagement time with these videos is between 20-45 mins.”
Tata Communications cited a report that said that on an average, people signed up with at least three new OTT platforms during lockdown. Netflix alone had 16 million new subscribers during the lockdown. In addition, the demand for original series increased by 123% as per a BARC-Nielsen survey. Currently, one-third of the internet infrastructure, from a consumption standpoint, is supported by Tata Communications.