23 November 2020 21:56

MediAvataar's News Desk

MediAvataar's News Desk

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CNN-News18, one of India’s leading English News channel has a new Managing Editor - Zakka Jacob –previously the Executive Editor of the channel. Network18 announced the elevation today stating that Zakka will now lead the editorial strategy of CNN News18.

The appointment of Zakka marks a generational shift for CNN News18, one in which one of the oldest channels is being run by the youngest crew in its genre. The average age of the newsroom Zakka leads is well under 40 and is not only geared up to challenge some of the more established names, but also to shake up the genre with new ideas, formats and programs.

A seasoned media professional with over 18 years of experience in the industry, Zakka has been hosting channel’s flagship show Brass Tacks. With his inimitable approach and calm demeanor, he has earned the ‘thinking man’s anchor’ moniker in the television news industry. In his spell with CNN-News18, Zakka has managed to carve a niche in the crowded and noisy primetime, which is dominated by loud talking panelists and shouting matches that pass off as debates.

Zakka Jacob is the only Indian anchor who has won the prestigious Asian Television Award for Best Anchor in Asia, twice, that is, in 2016 and again in 2018. Recently, he was chosen in Impact Magazine's 40 under 40 list of influential media persons. Prior to joining CNN News18, Zakka worked in China Central Television from 2011 to 2014 becoming the first South Asian face on Chinese television. He started off his career in 2001 with Sun News a regional channel before moving to New Delhi with Headlines Today.

Dineout, India’s largest dining out and restaurant tech platform, has launched the contactless in-room dining technology to add to the comfort & leisure of Hotels in India. In-room dining technology from inresto by Dineout will allow guests to order from the comfort of their room while maintaining the least contact possible. Premium hotels like Marriot, Radisson, Pullman, Hilton, Novotel, Ibis, Fortune, among others will be employing the technology to serve their customers.

The Hotel industry is adapting to new technologies and making sure to offer contactless services by minimizing customer touchpoints within the hotel. As the guest checks-in, the system generates a unique room pin against their mobile number. While in the room, guests can scan the room QR code and access the hotel’s digital F&B market place. It will allow guests to select the restaurant of their choice and gain access to the digital menu. After selecting the dishes, guests can complete the order by entering the unique room pin and make the payments via digital mode or settle the bill at the time of checkout.

Speaking at the launch, Ankit Mehrotra, Co-Founder & CEO - Dineout said, “Technology is the only way to ensure safe and seamless consumer experience in the post COVID world. We’re excited to extend our contactless in-room dining technology to premier hotel chains in India by enabling digital touchpoints for their guests and ensuring comfortable and safe stay for them”

Gautam Khanna, Director of Food & Beverage, Pullman & Novotel, New Delhi said, “We believe in being a frontrunner in providing the guests a safe and secure environment while ensuring ease of operations. As we welcome guests again, we realise the need to change the way we function and adopt new measures to ensure the safety of our guests. Technology from inresto will not only help our guests place their food orders from their rooms seamlessly but also allows us to maintain a minimum contact with our guests."

In-room dining tech by inresto also allows hotels to use the same tech to offer easy reservations for their other services. Guests can simply scan the in-room QR code to make reservations at Gym & SPA to avoid overcrowding and to follow the hygiene protocols. It also allows guests to book the laundry services without calling the guest service executive.

Dineout has recently unveiled the country’s first end-to-end ‘contactless dining suite’ to help restaurants operate in a post-COVID-19 world. The brand is also facilitating hygiene certification for restaurants through a licensed lab to ensure safe to eat out. Diners can see the certified restaurants on the Dineout App with their audit rating. This will help diners make an informed decision and be assured of the safety and hygiene standards at the restaurants. 

• The study shows 94% respondents in India are willing to pay more for a premium subscription for enhanced video & audio quality

• 96% say they plan to upgrade their entertainment equipment in the next 6 months

• COVID-19 has driven many Indians to use entertainment as a way of unwinding; 66% of Indian respondents said they use it as an opportunity to relax

• 95% Indian respondents got into new types of content they didn’t watch before

Dolby Laboratories, Inc. a leader in immersive entertainment experiences, released findings from a new global study illustrating a significant shift in consumer entertainment behaviour in India. The new homebound work & leisure economy has led to a sky-rocketing demand for new and quality content and for better devices. As per a new Global Consumer Study by Wakefield Research conducted in four countries for Dolby, Indian consumers are now prioritizing and seeking better experiences possibly driven by long hours spent at home. Indian consumers are spending more on quality in order to better connect with content—and to connect with each other.

“Despite all of the challenges of this past year, this study has illustrated the power of entertainment in bringing us together with those that are most important to us,” said Pankaj Kedia, Managing Director, Emerging Markets, Dolby Laboratories. “We take great pride in creating more immersive experiences through our technologies and see the significant growth of Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos as proof that consumers are seeking these experiences as well.”

According to Nathan Richter, Senior Partner at Wakefield Research, “We are all confined and what better way to use this time than to bond with friends and family, both in-person and virtually. People love entertainment and there is an exponential rise in demand for quality content that can be enjoyed in the comfort of one’s home. People recognize that high quality sound and visual experiences have a huge impact and make viewing more exciting. More than that, it enhances the entertainment experience and helps people to better connect during these challenging times.”

The Wakefield study on ‘Quality Time is Quality Picture and Sound’ highlights shifting consumer patterns for content consumption. It throws light on their preferences and the willingness to invest in premium quality content and in devices and to be able to have an enhanced audio and visual experience that is helping increase family bonding time.

The India leg of the study conducted across six cities, including New-Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad, was aimed at understanding the changing content consumption habits during the pandemic. The study cuts across generational breaks and includes the voice of Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X & Boomers.

Here are some of the most interesting study findings:

• Contented by Content- COVID-19 has driven many Indians to use entertainment as a way of unwinding, including 66% of Indian respondents saying they use it as an opportunity to relax and 60% saying they find it as a good social experience of watching with others.

• Ripped from the Headlines- Current events can drive viewers to entertainment and even alter their choices. This includes 92% respondents in India, who said the news impacts what they watch.

• Investing in the Experience-. The study shows that consumers are spending more on quality in order to better connect with content—and connect with each other. Compared to the start of the year-

• 97% of Indian respondents have increased their monthly spends on content by 48% on an average compared to the start of the year

• 88% of Indians respondents have in the past six months already invested in upgrading their streaming services

• 96% Indian respondents plan to upgrade their entertainment equipment in the next 6 months

• Equipment upgrades include better mobile devices. In India, 61% respondents plan to upgrade their mobile device to improve their viewing experience

• Worth It- Consumers connect with their content better with enhanced picture and sound quality. 94% Indian respondents would pay more for a premium subscription to receive enhanced picture and sound quality

• Broadened Horizons- As consumers stayed at home with more time to watch, many consumers got into a genre of content they had not consumed before

• 95% Indian respondents got into new types of content they didn’t watch before

• Those engaging with new types of content had a wide variety to pick from. In India, streaming live music events lead popular new content (50%), followed by comedy (48%), video game streaming (46%) & DIY videos (45%).

• Multiple ways to Watch- In India, 29% say their smartphone is their primary entertainment device. This is followed by 22% who say television and 20% who say computer.

• Smaller Screens, Higher Quality- Consumers are particularly interested in enhanced picture and sound quality for watching movies and TV shows. In India, 49% respondents rank movies as one of their top-two forms of entertainment that merit enhanced quality.

• Work Hard, Play Hard- With work now requiring video conferencing, many are “borrowing” that tech for personal purposes. In India, 92% respondents are using work video applications for social purposes, including 80% who do so often or all the time.

• First Time for Everything- In India, 65% respondents of those who engaged in live-chat while watching streaming videos did so for the first time.

At Dolby, we are committed to bringing premium, immersive experiences to as many people as possible. Just in the last year, the adoption of Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos in the home has been widespread. There are hundreds of millions of Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos enabled devices in market from the world’s leading device manufacturers.

As this study shows, the drive for better experiences doesn’t stop at devices. Content adoption is also growing rapidly, completing the ecosystem that we have been building through global partnerships with leading streaming services that continue to release their top shows and films in Dolby technology every month.

“Ultimately, we expect the desire for more human connection to continue in the future and immersive experiences can help fulfil this demand,” added Pankaj Kedia, Managing Director, Emerging Markets, Dolby Laboratories. “Just as entertainment drives cultural conversation, that same conversation drives connection across the globe, and we are seeing connections grow stronger every day through elevated entertainment experiences.”

Just Tap and Win!

Fever Network is one of the leading radio network in the country. Fever has been topping the RAM charts in the markets it operates in, and is the destination station for youth, with focus on innovation and listener’s delight.

The network recently launched its Progressive Web App – Fevernetwork.FM - a clutter-breaking strategic initiative to further strengthen their digital first approach to business. Fever Network is the first radio brand to come up with a progressive web page which will urge the listener to interact with the brand digitally too.
The first phase of the campaign was a roaring success with exciting gratifications including cool T20 merchandise, match party invitations, virtual meet and greet with players and the mega prize of Gold!

Fever FM has now gone live with the second leg of the campaign. This time the gratification is even bigger with a brand new OnePlus 8T, worth Rs. 42,999 up for grabs! The listeners have to simply type fevernetwork.fm on their mobile web browsers and tap to participate in the contest by answering one simple question! The campaign is live on-air and on Fever Network social media handles.

BBC’s top feature-led editorial content will be available in audio – LISTEN HERE

BBC Global News today announces the launch of a new smart text-to-speech tool on its international digital online platform, BBC.com. It uses artificial intelligence to convert text articles into speech, ‘reading’ them aloud with a synthetic voice. The BBC worked with Microsoft to create the new voice and AI software, using deep neural networks to create a synthetic voice with a natural tone and clear articulation of words.

Launching globally today, the initial content will be part of a series within BBC Worklife called ‘The Life Project’. Its 16 feature articles, which focus on giving readers the tools they need to make life-changing decisions during the pandemic, are now available in audio.

At the conclusion of The Life Project on December 31, 2020, the product will roll out across select articles from BBC feature verticals BBC Culture, BBC Future and BBC Worklife. These sections will display an icon inviting users to listen instead of reading. The experience will be available across multiple platforms and BBC editors will personally handpick the best dynamic articles for the audience. These articles will be given a “listen to article” prompt, allowing users to engage in a way they have never been able to before on the BBC site. The audio will continue after users navigate away from the article on desktop and when a phone is locked on mobile, for an uninterrupted experience.

Built with cognitive and behavioral integrated tech software, the tool will start to learn the patterns of users’ behaviour and prioritise content based on their preferences, whilst maintaining the BBC’s trusted curation of balanced journalism and ensuring audiences are served the most important stories which also feel relevant to them.

The launch marks the first milestone in an ambitious plan which aims to see the product rolled out to other areas of the site, the introduction of background soundscapes to add to the listening experience, infinite scroll and a number of other innovative tech developments as part of an initiative called Project Songbird.

Uniquely, the speech is in a soft regional voice to make it warm and welcoming. Part of the work involved developing a voice that not only provides colour and character to the recordings, but also offers a rounded, human-like sound which aligns to the tone and emotion of the article and remains engaging even throughout a long-form article. The use of a synthetic voice means the project will be suitable for a wide range of content as well as allowing the audio to change automatically as and when any text is updated.

The new product also offers the BBC’s commercial partners the opportunity to reach a growing and hyper-engaged audio audience. Along with pre-roll advertising, sponsored feature sections and full sponsorship with additional bespoke commissioned audio content from BBC StoryWorks Commercial Productions will also be on offer and, with the ability to download in the background, the new function will offer an even more dynamic advertiser experience.

Errol Baran, global SVP, Business Development & Innovation, Advertising & StoryWorks, says: “As the popularity of audio grows, this new product offers audiences another complementary way of engaging with our content in a format that suits them. That, married with the opportunities available to our commercial partners and the quality of the offering, makes this a unique and exciting new proposition in the market.”

The BBC has seen clear demand for additional audio programming in recent years, with 62% of the BBC’s digital audience now spending between 30 minutes and four hours listening to podcasts each day. The new function is the BBC’s solution to filling that need for the audience and providing an alternative way to engage with its plethora of award-winning content. It will offer BBC.com audiences a third way to consume BBC digital content, alongside text and video.

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