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State of OTT (Over the top television) in India

State of OTT (Over the top television) in India

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

Multiple Players

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.

Cultural Structure

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

News in the Digital Era: Tips for Broadcasters

News in the Digital Era: Tips for Broadcasters

Do you prefer reading news on social media? If your answer is yes, you belong among 51%[1]  of the population who prefer so. Research by Reuters Institute reveals that 64% of the population between the age group of 18-24 rely on online media for information.

Which makes us wonder – is digitization transforming the way viewers consume content? As the F.O.M.O. and the favor of personalization over objectivity give rise to social media and aggregators like ‘In Shorts,’ ‘Feedly,’ and ‘Digg Reader,’ do traditional media need to change their broadcast/distribution strategy to retain the audience?

In an age where what goes ‘viral’ sells, here are some tips to utilize the power of digital media to capture the audience.

Intriguing Storytelling: While the information remains the same, how the broadcaster presents it is what pulls and retains the audience in the ‘mobile first’ world. With the same story available across multiple platforms, readers look for a unique perspective, and perhaps, an intriguing way to share the same news. To retain the audience, storytelling has to change – it has to be short, visual, timely, and hyper-relevant.

‘Snackable’ Content: According to Forbes[2], adding infographic is a sure shot way to boost news traffic, as 90 percent of what we remember is based on visual impact. Short-form videos play a vital role in capturing the viewer’s attention for a longer time, thereby driving user engagement and revenue.

Explainer Videos: With the information overload that comes with the Internet, an average person is attacked by the equivalent of 174 newspapers of data a day. Explainer videos are a great way to cut through the information overload. Focusing on the facts, explainer videos often have only subtitles without any sound highlighting the crux, which usually works well for breaking news.

Focus on Soft News: Humans are primarily driven by emotions. Therefore, viewers tend to connect more with the soft news that has a strong emotional element. A simple story presented objectively with an emotional perspective works better for news broadcasters.

Choosing the Right Distribution Platform: With offsite news video consumption growing fast, broadcasters need to focus on the distribution channel to ensure maximum reach. For example, videos uploaded to Facebook or shared on Twitter get more views than those uploaded on the website. Therefore, sharing the breaking news on social media, and do a follow-up story with detailed analysis and context for the website will have more viewers than uploading a detailed video on the website.

Going Live: Thanks to the video appeal, user engagement, ‘in the moment’ value, and instant feedback, live video has become an interesting trend in the broadcast industry. With Facebook Live, Snapchat, YouTube, and Periscope allowing wider reach, media houses are competing to bring interesting and valuable live videos to their customers.

Having Defined Goals: Not all content is created with the same purpose. While the cyberspace is flooded with news and videos, each trying to carve a niche and attract the audience, a broadcaster needs to have defined goals like monetization, engagement, or brand extension before generating the content. It is important to have a strategy in place, which the broadcasters should review and refer to at regular intervals.

Creating Video Community: Media houses are increasingly turning to platforms like Talenthouse, Tongal, and Zooppa to have new video content that explains key issues simplifying business/hard language. Creating video community is a great way to crowdsource ideas in thousands, connect with the audience and empower them, and create a loyal viewers’ community.

Having Ready-made Templates: News, if not communicated as soon as it breaks, become stale. Therefore, it is important not to waste time in deciding the ideal content format or creating videos from scratch. Having templates for various kind of news across different platforms enable quick packaging and sharing of videos and news, thereby helping broadcasters share information as soon as it happens.

As broadcasters embrace the new digital world and make their presence more prominent across online platforms, it is important to have a right strategy to ensure increased engagement with the audience.

Video Storage Formats: Then & Now

Video Storage Formats: Then & Now

The Motion Picture Industry had begun to develop in early 1900s. Celluloid Nitrate films were the industry norm till the magnetic tape came into play. With technology, the video storage carriers have also evolved. From carrying bulky video cameras for shoot and storing cans of videos archives to live streaming of video using a mobile, video has come a long way.  Let us look at some key formats through the history of video.

1956 saw the coming of Quadruplex videotapes which were most commonly used commercial distribution medium at that time. Developed and released by Ampex, 2” Quad was the first successful videotape format. The name comes from its four-head wheel which rotated 240 times a second. VR 1500/600 (by Ampex) was the first consumer VTR.

From Videotape we graduated to video cassettes. In 1969, Sony introduced a prototype for the first widespread video cassette, the 3/4″ (1.905 cm) Composite U-matic system. ¾” U-Matic, Sony, 1970 was one of the most successful formats of all time. Until its release, news acquisition had primarily been gathered on 16mm film.

In 1976, Sony introduced Betamax which was the first successful consumer video cassette. It failed in the marketplace against VHS due to its maximum record time despite initial success. Introduced as a competitor to Betamax, VHS, JVC, 1976 was the most successful among all home video formats.

Sony introduced Betacam in 1982, which eventually turned out as the most widely used analog tape based format, later Digital Betacam was introduced in 1993 as a replacement for the analog Betacam SP format. Sony’s D-1, the first digital VTR, featured uncompressed digital component recording and was mainly used in high-end post-production facilities with special effects and multiple layering of video signal.

In 1985, Handycam introduced by Sony was the first portable Video8 Camera with commercial success. The 8mm video format refers to 3 video cassette formats namely, Video 8 (analog), Hi8 (combination of analog and digital) & Digital 8 (digital). And a decade later in 1995, the next generation of digital disc storage was introduced, the Digital Versatile Disc (DVD). The world’s first DVD player was the Toshiba SD-3000 launched in November 1996 and was made available in Japan, US, Europe and Australia.

Blu-Ray is the next generation of optical disc format aimed to store high definition video (HD). Named after Blue Laser, it stores more data than a standard DVD.  DigiBeta is the highest quality standard definition format in common use. It’s 10 bit 4.2.2 with a low compression of 2.3 and a common SD delivery format with many broadcasters. Launched in 1995, DV is a format for storing digital video. DVCPRO, also known as DVCPRO25, is a variation of DV developed by Panasonic and introduced in 1995 for use in electronic news gathering (ENG) equipment. In 1996 Sony responded with its own professional version of DV called DVCAM.

Its competitor is High-Density Digital Versatile Disc (HD-DVD). Promoted by Toshiba, NEC & Sanyo, it is a digital optical media format applying the same disc size as Blu-Ray.  As far as quality of Video is concerned the future belongs to Ultra HD or UHD. The UHD Alliance comprising of 35 companies have laid down UHD Premium Specification in 2016. The specification comprises a list of features that should be included in products like TVs and Blu-ray players to ensure maximum compatibility with other content and hardware produced.

Though availability and quality of recording devices is a huge edge, it comes with disadvantages. Modern recording devices produce 720p, 1080p and 4K video resolutions eating up hard drive space thereby slowing it down. It faces lack of adequate backup feature as well. These inabilities make Cloud Storage Solutions the future of video storage.  Cloud provides excellent features like anywhere access, easy sharing and retrieval and also ensures longevity of the content.

Video content consumption has revolutionized our lifestyle in massive proportions. Surprisingly, the developing economies consume video content in startling way. Africa often referred to as “The Mobile Continent” witness 77% viewers consuming content on smart phones and 53% are interested in mobile video on-demand. UNESCO has highlighted, “much of our audio visual heritage has already been irrevocably lost and much more will be lost if no action is taken.” Broadcasters and content owners must now focus on migrating their valuable media assets to latest video storage formats and ensure its availability for generations to come. The future clearly belongs to the media organizations that adopt digital and offer choice of platforms (any device, any time) and variety of content to their viewers.