OTT or Over the Top Services has taken the broadcasting industry by storm and given a new dimension to watching content. There is a plethora of video content reaching consumers directly via internet bypassing traditional controllers or distributors. In US, 57% of Wi-Fi households have OTT devices, Smartphones, most definitely the front runner of them all.1 Based on a recent study done in US measuring 12,500 homes and 150,000 devices, showed that four major OTT streaming services, namely Netflix (40%), YouTube (18%), Hulu (14%) and Amazon Prime Video (7%) account for 80% of viewing time rolling out programs from all across the globe.
OTT in India
OTT Services have climbed the popularity ladder rather quickly and has definitely come in a big way in India giving watchers a whole new experience. With the onset of ‘Digital’ becoming a national phenomenon across the length and breadth of the country, audio-visual content available on OTT platforms has gone viral. With more than 30 OTT providers and approximately 90 million active viewers, the temperature is only expected to rise in the coming times.
The launch of Star India’s Hotstar in 2015 proved to be a turning point in India’s OTT scenario. They were one of the first to have successfully blended world class technology with great content resulting in high viewership. And thereafter, many national and international players like Netflix, Voot, Amazon Prime Video, Viu, etc. followed, leveraging the ever growing popularity in this part of Asian Continent.
Furthermore, hi-speed 4G internet and free data packs with increased bandwidth being offered gave more power to consumers to view on the go. It upped the game forcing providers to aim for cutting edge content and seamless, high definition viewing experience.
Factors affecting OTT market in India
The OTT market is segregated between original content creators, content aggregators and digital platforms owned by already established Television Broadcasters. For Voot from Viacom 18, where it is fiction and reality shows of TV on one side, they are going equally strong with tailor-made digital series as well. Also, Voot Kids and regional language content are equally big ROI churners. Foreign players like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are banking high on investments made in acquiring videos and movies from across the globe. According to reports, Netflix has earmarked a whooping amount of $300 million to be invested in India in the coming times.
India’s social and cultural structure is an added advantage in this OTT content driven game. Being a multilingual market, it fuels up the demand for variety and compelling content. SUN TV Network has already launched its OTT platform, Sun NXT to facilitate viewers with portable content. But the early bird has been Viu which partnered with Annapurna Studios for Telugu originals Pilla and Pelli Gola with a surprise viewership of approximately 40% of regional language content. Foreign players are also not left behind. Amazon Prime Video are building a strong base of regional content through various licensing deals. Hooq, a joint venture of SingTel, Sony Pictures Television and Warner Bros. strategizes to offer Hollywood movies and famous US TV shows dubbed in regional languages. Increased investments pouring in non-Hindi market is expected to encompass close to 30% of total viewership in the years to come. As Indian language internet consumers surpass English content consumers, language-driven content will play a very important role in OTT players’ growth.
Demography & Infrastructure
With India’s urban market saturating slowly, the need to reach out to a wider audience is obvious to keep the business moving. Government’s initiative to connect the country digitally is just the right thing for OTT owners. Rural sector comprises a major part of India’s population and business experts have a major eye on them. Roll-out of 4G services, better infrastructure have aided in adding more viewership. According to statistics, internet use in rural areas which was 33% of the total internet population in 2013 is fast growing and is expected to reach approximately 55% by 2025 covering a major chunk of viewership. Smartphone users are expected to grow to 520 million by the end of 2020 which clearly means that individual content watching is going to outgrow the rest of the mediums.2
Pitfalls Faced by Platform Owners
- Internet speed and its quality is the make and break point of OTT market. India, especially, will have to divert a lot of attention and finances to build up better digital infrastructure if it wants to break even in the global market.
- New players will have to shell out more money to keep the business going. Entry costs are going to inflate. Also they have to keep the budget levels high for acquisitions in absence of library content which old players possess.
- Technology is going to demand regular high investments in order to match up audience exposure and expectations. Today’s viewers expect seamless, high definition experience irrespective of the medium.
- Content is the backbone of OTT world and originality and compelling and engrossing content would be the final winner. Repetitive or slackly produced content would be a strict no.
- Irrelevant advertisements and micro second patience of viewers makes it a major problem where almost 60% revenue of the platform owners is lost in the hands of ad-blockers. Ad-tech company Amagi Media Labs is set to launch its Thunderstorm OTT Ad Insertion service in India, which is already working well in US and UK markets. It inserts ads seamlessly within the content stream and make ad-blockers ineffective. On the individual front, this nuisance can be controlled if advertisers start creating relevant and seamless ads which add some value to the consumers.
Future of OTT
Globally, OTT business is expected to grow from US$36.7 Bn in 2015 to US$158.4 Bn by 2025. 3
A major boom is foreseen in India bringing it closer to US which has always been the top contenders in content driven entertainment market. Video accounts for India’s 51% data traffic which is set to rise to 75% by 2020. In terms of revenue, the Video-on-demand (VOD) market is anticipated to reach USD 168 million in 2021 from USD 64 million in 2017.4
Going by trends, it’s an exciting and an interesting phase in India, it being the second largest market for smartphones and having the biggest entertainment industry offering an entire ocean of content. But seeing how fickle minded Indian audience is, the onus would be completely on content, how original and diversified it can get. Infrastructure and high quality internet facility would also play a major role in it. Emphasis would be more on interruption free viewing at a lucrative price. It would be interesting to see how these entertainment carriers behave and strategies to be able to capture ever so changing consumer recall value and reach the winning end. 5