Fishermen use a smartphone on a fishing boat docked at the Nagor fishing harbor in Nagapattinam. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Human Attention Is The New Oil, Media Veteran Sameer Nair Says

Human attention is the new oil, says Sameer Nair, chief executive officer of Applause Entertainment, pointing to the huge opportunity for India’s online streaming industry.

India's over the top online streaming platforms have produced merely 20 shows or so in the last three years, when the market can absorb close to 1,000 shows, he said in an interview to BloombergQuint.

Over 250 million people viewed videos online in 2017, a growth of 64 percent over the previous year, according to a joint report by industry body Ficci and EY India. That’s expected to double to 500 million by 2020, making India the second largest online video viewing audience globally. Within the online streaming universe, there are over 30 video OTT platforms in India that offer paid subscriptions. Digital subscription income rose 50 percent to Rs 390 crore in 2017. That’s expected to hit Rs 2,010 crore by 2020.

While the opportunity is there, the onus of attracting human attention falls on the quality of content, said Nair, who is credited with revamping the Star India Network under Rupert Murdoch. “We blame consumers and the mediums too often” but quality content is key to increasing and sustaining engagement, he said.

India, however, still hasn’t had its “HBO moment". While domestic broadcasters still focus on daily soaps, premium content will have to be build ground up in the country, he added.

The online streaming industry--with players such as Alt Balaji, VOOT, Hotstar, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, etc.---should go through consolidation. “If there is some level of creative consolidation, it's a good thing,” he said, adding that it will improve the quality of content being produced.