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Top 4 Challenges Faced by OTT Players in India

Top 4 Challenges Faced by OTT Players in India

McKinsey [1]reports that globally about 2.5 billion less-than-25-years-old digital customers spend 315 minutes daily on an average online. Keeping up with the trend, OTT subscribers in India is also witnessing a growing trend. According to a report by Ernst & Young[2], India had 250 million video consumers in 2017, of which 190 million were aged between 15 – 34.

Low-cost smartphones coupled with fall in data tariffs and increased internet speed will continue to drive greater demand for online content across India.  EY estimates that with the evolving OTT service consumption of the Indian audience video consumption can reach 500 million by 2020.

However, these opportunities have also thrown some strategic challenges to the OTT service providers in India. We list below four such challenges that the OTT providers need to address to succeed in the game:

Monetization

Reports [3]predict that the Indian digital advertising market will grow by 30 percent Y-o-Y to ₹120 billion in 2018, of which approximately ₹18 billion will be spent on the video. Despite the growth of online advertising, it comprises only about a fifth of TV advertising.

OTT players are exploring various revenue models – advertising, subscriptions, and freemium to achieve profitability. With the decrease in profitability from 90% to 40% despite the increase in advertising spends, OTT players need to provide a personalized quality viewing experience on a robust technology platform to ensure monetization.

Relevant content

With traditional TV, the audience paid a fixed amount for a choice of 200+ channels across genres, languages, and domains. As the paradigm shifts to ‘pay-for-what-you-watch,’ generating relevant content that will grab the audience attention and continue to get them hooked is a challenge. With the millennial getting into the habit of binge-watching, many often complain that after their favorite shows are over, not much is left to watch.

For OTT players in India, the fact that ‘content is king’ is now truer than ever. Though global players like Netflix are streaming global content, the need for quality regional content drives the viewership and subscriber rate.

Moreover, with a variety of content to choose from, OTT players are challenged to provide a personalized experience to the audience. Services need to improve content discovery and mapping functionalities to suggest content based on the viewer’s preference.

Video quality

For OTT services to rival broadcast television, they need to provide optimal viewing experience to the consumers without jitters or buffers. However, the current broadband infrastructure of India does not allow for that seamless experience everywhere. With the lower than average Internet speed, buffering does cost the OTT players almost a quarter of their audience.

OTT players are collaborating with telcos to bundle their entertainment offerings with 4G services to address this challenge.

Privacy & licensing

Streaming of live TV channels contributes to a bulk of traffic for the Indian OTT players. Live streaming also exposes them to privacy issues. With the growth of broadband, it is becoming increasingly difficult for OTT players to track piracy and illegal streaming.

Moreover, complex IP protocols, royalty definition, character rights, geographical restrictions, and platform diversity are not only impacting their revenue but also exposing them to copyright infringement risks.

OTT players are here to stay and grow in the coming years. Content and user experience will be the key for wider adoption of the service. For monetization the value needs to be shown with respect to viewer numbers for the advertisers.

[1] https://www.forgeahead.io/blogs/the-top-threats-and-opportunities-affecting-ott-today/

[2] https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/trends/entertainment/the-rise-of-ott-players-streaming-platforms-and-the-threat-to-the-box-office-2688531.html 

[3]https://brandequity.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/digital/digital-advertising-market-to-grow-30-in-2018-report/64014990

5 Classics Films Restored for the Digital Age

5 Classics Films Restored for the Digital Age

Movies made with photosensitive films and analog cameras until the 1990s had great details, but was also susceptible to dirt, temperature changes, and rough handling. As classics and old movies fall prey to the effects of time, content producers are digitizing to restore them.

With easy access to video on demand anytime anywhere, film producers and archives are leaving no stone un-turned to make the classics available to the viewers. While the film makers are setting new aesthetic standards with high quality and clarity of 4K resolution for restoring oldies, it comes at a time when watching movies on smartphones is more popular than DVDs or Blu-rays.

However, film restoration isn’t as simple as scanning the original 35mm film to produce a new version. It involves multiple steps like manual and automatic cleaning of the film to remove dust, scratches and other signs of aging, enhancing colors, sound and editing into single segment and adding special effects if necessary.

As the efforts are underway across the world to re-master and preserve classic films, we look at Hollywood’s past to list some of the best digitally remastered classics.

  1. Casablanca
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Credit: Google Images

With the Blu-ray 4K restoration, released in May 2017 to mark the 75th anniversary of the film release, the 1942 classic Casablanca never looked better. The scan restores the most dynamic and richest image and sounds possible, making the hard work behind the restoration job evident.  The film have been earlier restored twice for its 50th and 60th anniversary.

Casablanca, the winner of three Academy Awards, is a story of a romantic triangle between Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), his wife Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) and her ex-lover Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart).

  1. North by Northwest
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Credit: Google Images

To mark the 50th anniversary of Alfred Hitchcock’s sleek masterwork, Warner Home Video restored ‘North by Northwest’ in 1080p from original VistaVision and made it available on Blu-ray and DVD. Each frame was painstakingly transferred into the digital domain at 8k for the restoration, revealing a depth of field and clarity that was unimaginable before, thereby heightening the thrill of the classic.

  1. Dr. No
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Credit: Google Images

The 1962 adventure of James Bond – his first adventure to be precise – is given a new life (and look) by the Lowry Digital. With a fresh 4K scan and clean-up, the remastered film in Blu-ray looks amazing with bright, clear picture, and sharp resolution.

  1. Gone with the Wind 
Gone with wind_MG_Blog
Credit: Google Images

The new 8K scan of the 1939 Civil War epic based on Margaret Mitchell’s novel has cleared the dirt and age defects away from the classic. Although the image is soft at times, details shine through. According to the critics, this edition is the best the film has looked to date, and that includes the theatrical release.

  1. Sleeping Beauty 
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Credit: Google Images

Restored from the original 2.55:1 negative, the 50th edition of Sleeping Beauty is a beautiful rendition. The original soundtracks were converted from Berlin Symphony Orchestra to DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack. Both the picture and sound quality are superb, making the edition better than the original version.

Some other classics that have been digitally restored are The Third Man, The Godfather, Star Trek Original Series Seasons 1 – 3, The Wizard of Oz, and Pinocchio. Remastering classic movies in 4K not only preserves the cinematic heritage for the new generation but also make movies look better than the past.

10 Web Series You Must Watch

10 Web Series You Must Watch

Thanks to cheap data plans, quality content, and competitive marketing, web series is officially thriving in India. Gone are those days when family members used to flock together to watch a series on television, and missing an episode meant taking updates from others.

Recent surveys also underline the preference for online content. A survey conducted by Chrome Data Analysis & Media[1] unveils that 44% prefers watching exclusive online content. An Ofcom[2] report suggests broadcast TV viewership by 4 – 24-year-olds fell 33% between 2010 and 2016.

A survey by the Diffusion Group (TDG)[3] reveals that SVOD services are more popular among 18-24-year-olds. Though 57% of those surveyed chose traditional pay-tv over SVOD, around 66% 18-24-year-olds and 54% 25-34-year-olds prefer SVOD services.

The disinterest in traditional television among the youth has led to the rise of on-demand services like Amazon, Netflix and Hulu to name a few. The freedom to choose what, when, and where (in which device) to watch for a fraction of the cost of most cable subscriptions is one of the primary reason for the rise of over-the-top (OTT) content providers. The high rate of mobile and wireless broadband penetration also contributes to the rise.

With so many web series across various OTT service providers, choosing a host of ‘must watch’ is difficult. To make the task easier, we list the most popular digital original television shows based on audience demand across India:

1. 13 Reasons Why (Netflix): Produced by July Moon Productions, 13 Reasons Why is an American mystery teen drama web television series. The series revolves around Clay Jensen, a high school student, and his romantic interest Hannah Baker, who commits suicide after a series of traumatic and demoralizing circumstances

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Pic Credit: Netflix

2. House of Cards (Netflix): Based on a novel by Michael Dobbs, House of Cards is an American political thriller. First aired on February 1, 2013, the final season of the web series with six episodes will be released in 2018.

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Pic Credit: Netflix

3. Inside Edge (Amazon Prime): Based on Mumbai Mavericks, a fictional T20 cricket team, Inside Edge captures the world of cricket and entertainment. First aired on July 10, 2017, the Indian-American web television series follows the twists and turns in the lives of powerful characters.

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Pic Credit: Amazon Prime

4. Bose: Dead/Alive (AltBalaji): Spread over 9 episodes of 20 minutes each, the series is a well-researched story of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and his allegedly mysterious death.

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Pic Credit: AltBalaji

5. Pitchers (TVF Play): Launched in 2015, Pitchers features in the IMDB’s Top 250 TV Series List. It traces the lives of four young professionals who quit their jobs to venture out into the wild entrepreneurial world.

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Pic Credit: TVF

6. Baked (ScoopWhoop): Produced by ScoopWhoop Talkies and Pechkas Pictures, Baked is an account of the misadventures of three university flatmates who decide to start a midnight food delivery service.

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Pic Credit: ScoopWhoop

7. Life Sahi Hai (Luv Films): Revolving around four guys, the sitcom explores the hilariously challenging situations they land themselves in every time they deal with their bosses, girlfriends, or each other. Living independently for the first time, they realize that their new-found freedom doesn’t come for free. The first season of the web series aired in 2016, and the second season in 2018.

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Pic Credit: LuvFilms

8. Stranger Things (Netflix): First aired on July 16, 2016 Stranger Things, set in the fictional town of Hawkins, focuses on the investigation into the disappearance of a young boy amid supernatural events.

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Pic Credit: Netflix

9. Sense8 (Netflix): The American web fiction drama traces the story of eight strangers from different parts of the world. These strangers suddenly get linked mentally and emotionally. The series explores subjects like politics, identity, sexuality, gender, and religion.

MG_BLOG_10 best web series
Pic Credit: Netflix

10. Man’s World (Yash Raj Films): A ‘what if’ series, Man’s World traces the journey of a man walking in women’s shoes, in their world. The series, which portrays what if women treat men the way men treat them, is a comedy with an underlying social message.

MG_BLOG_10 best web series
Pic Credit:YRF

Sources:

https://www.statista.com/statistics/739033/india-most-in-demand-digital-original-tv-shows/

[1] https://tvnews4u.com/70-watches-web-series-night-study-chrome-data-web-series-consumption/

[2] https://www.ibc.org/consumption/engaging-audiences-the-death-of-linear-television/2660.article

[3] https://www.marketingcharts.com/television/pay-tv-and-cord-cutting-79072

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