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TECH TALK: TechnoWonders of the Modern World: TechnoWonder 5: Cable TV

December 28th, 2000 · No Comments

It is hard to imagine that less than 10 years ago that TV viewers in India could only watch Doordarshan. Today, there are over 75 channels in nearly language. The TV has become the focal point of our lives at home, and the media batteground for the future. India now has over 30 million cable-TV connected homes. The entrepreneurial spirit of the cable operators has wired up India and provided entertainment for as little as Rs 120 (USD 3) a month.

For many years, live cricket coverage of India matches was the big attractor on television. Today, it is a mix of cricket from around the world (nearly every international match is now shown on TV), live stock market news and interviews, riveting coverage of breaking international stories, family dramas, a plethora of new movies and big-money game shows.

The monies are coming in big – Star TV’s Kain Banega Crorepati (KBC) raked in Rs 100 crore (USD 22 million) in advertising in the first 4 months. Current advertising rates have shot up to Rs 13 lakhs (USD 30,000) for 30 seconds on KBC. Where TV once divided, programmes like KBC now unite the family (not to talk about generally increasingly IQ levels)!

Just as the cellphone and the Internet converge, so also with TV and the Internet.

Net access through TV and set-top boxes is now becoming available in many cities, bringing affordability and prospects of the mass market Internet. The cable modem is offering always-on Internet access to many corporates in business districts in India. Interactive TV of tomorrow also promises to bring about a change in our lives. An excerpt from the Wall Street Journal:

For the past quarter century, cable-TV companies, telephone companies and media companies have racked up billions of dollars in losses, trying in vain to give couch potatoes a reason to engage with the tube and control programming in ways never before possible. Perhaps no other technology has been so relentlessly pursued. Why not just stick to improving the Internet experience on a computer? Because consumers spend 3.5 billion hours per week in front of the TV, compared to 1.2 billion hours in front of the PC.

The computer leads to what some executives call a “lean in” experience, in which users are actively engaged only 14 inches from their screens. TV is “lean back,” passively enjoyed from eight feet. As the Web hosts more entertainment programming, many feel it could be better suited to a TV set than a computer screen.

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