The pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns completely transformed our entertainment experience. From ‘Let’s watch a movie, we moved on to ‘What should we watch on Netflix?’. Movie premiers and live sporting events like IPL and others have moved to OTT. An already-booming online media and entertainment sector gained a significant boost thanks to the black swan event that was the Covid-19 pandemic, setting a new growth trajectory.
The audience adopted a more digitally advanced way of entertainment, something that extended way beyond the conventional mediums, leading to the mass adoption of OTT platforms which resulted in a surge in both viewership and watch-time.
The present condition of OTT in India
As a result of this pandemic-induced growth in demand for quality content, a larger focus was taken on storytelling across languages, leading to an increase in the number of libraries of quality content. The increased adoption of connected devices increased people’s willingness to consume content in different languages and their desire to enjoy the living room experience.
OTT media platforms are the latest global trend and India is not far behind. Subscriptions to OTT services are disrupting traditional cable TV networks and consumers are increasingly turning to online channels – a phenomenon known as cord-cutting. No more does one have to wait for the clock to watch their favorite shows or movies that come on the TV. Now you can enjoy non-stop binge-watching of your favorite shows or movies from wherever you are as long as you have internet access.
Telecom tariffs fell in 2021 due to revisions, which contributed to the expansion of digital platforms. While Western broadcasters did not understand the need for digital streaming services until too late, Indian TV channels seized the opportunity early, with each of the top five broadcasting networks creating a digital platform for its respective genre.
Content can be viewed even while traveling, and consumers are spoilt for choice with languages, content variety, and on-demand viewing. There is no doubt about consumers’ preferences – more of them are cutting the cord and switching to streaming services instead of traditional pay-TV subscriptions. Boston Consulting Group predicts that the OTT content market is at an inflection point in India and is likely to reach a market size of $5 billion by 2023.
From just two OTT platform providers in 2012 to about 40 players at present, the OTT revolution has come a long way in India. Estimates from Phando Corp suggest that monthly active users (MAUs) for India’s OTT video sector have grown at a blistering rate of 300% since 2019 to reach 680 million in 2021, with rural and tier 2 & 3 cities consumption reaching an 80% share.
The growth in OTT platforms combined with the subsequent content boom has seen vernacular content from different regions gaining international popularity. South Korean dystopian drama broke all records by becoming the most-watched content on Netflix by netizens around the world.
Similarly, Indian dramas such as Sacred Games and Delhi Crime were viewed and enjoyed by a global audience. As a result, all eyes are now firmly set on opportunities in emerging economies, specifically in the Indian subcontinent, with major players from the west entering the foray with attractive subscription offers and diverse content catalogs. Some have chosen to collaborate with or acquire local brands to establish a firmer foothold in the region.
Leading OTT platforms in India
1. Disney Plus Hotstar
Disney Plus is a service provided by Disney. Hotstar is an OTT website that is well-known for its IPL exposure. Star India, an affiliate of Walt Disney Corporation India, owns the company. Hotstar is among the best websites for those looking for a variety of options.
A “Hotstar Watch n Play” contest to transform casual fans into engaged participants was one of the marketing campaigns that helped Hotstar succeed. Hotstar’s business model consists of freemium and subscription, with free content accessible to freemium subscribers and charged content accessible to valued clients.
2. ZEE 5
ZEE 5 is another prominent OTT network operated by Essel Group through its subsidiary ZEE Entertainment Enterprises. Launched in February 2018, like every other OTT website, its content is available in 12 languages, and programs from the ZEE channel of suspense, mystery, and crime are also available. In the year 2019,
According to ZEE 5, there are about 56 million daily users. Moreover, it had an almost 80% rise in membership after the lockdown.
So if you’re a “Bigg Boss” fan who never misses an episode, Voot might be your favorite app out of all the apps on your computer. Viacom 18 Digital Ventures has founded Voot, another OTT network. You can watch Colors TV’s different TV shows when watching blockbuster movies. According to the most recent news, VOOT would be the first AVOD (advertisement based on demand) website in India to turn a profit.
4. Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video is a well-known American organization best known for its web series such as “Mirzapur.” Its material is also available in other languages, such as Dutch, italics, and so on. If you are only familiar with the Indian language and are in India, you can obtain the content in both Hindi and English. However, unlike other OTT channels like Hotstar, ZEE5, or Voot, Regional languages are not available here. Amazon Prime is a popular destination for web series fans. You can still watch Hollywood movies and TV shows here, which draw audiences who are often drawn to international shows. Amazon Prime’s most recent campaign policy entails the announcement of a mobile-only plan in India.
He stated that throughout the third quarter of 2020, there was a growth of approximately 80% of Prime members globally.
Netflix is one of the most common OTT services, and it is suitable for those interested in foreign programs. It is a corporation based in the United States with a VOD (video-on-demand) business model. It is published in nearly 20 languages, like English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Netflix’s content campaign is the oldest, but the firm is only reaping the rewards. With an ML and AI-based framework, the company is focusing on email marketing. Excluding it, they are worried about consumer safety, because they use targeted ads, which means that no two users can see the same homepage. Netflix hits 16 million subscribers in three months after the lockdown.
6. MX Player
MX Player is an OTT platform that offers material in all audio formats (including AC-3) and with subtitle assistance. It is accessible in eleven different languages. The great thing regarding MX Player is that it has audio material, which sets it apart from the rest of the network. You will listen to different songs and watch different programs. 141 million unique users were recorded by the MX player mostly during the lockdown.
7. Sony Liv
Sony Liv is another common OTT channel since it hosts the “Play Along” contest and allows viewers to compete for the hot seat on “Kaun Banega Crorepati.” Sony Liv was introduced by Sony Picture India Private Limited in 2013. It allows you to view all of Sony Entertainment Television’s programs, and it provides a source of cricket, basketball, WWE, and UFC, making it great for sports fans. Aside from these, the platform contains approximately 700 films. Sony LIV received 26.14 million visitors in December 2020, ranking first in the area of arts and entertainment.
8. ALT Balaji
ALTBalaji is a fully owned subsidiary of Balaji Telefilms Ltd as well as an Indian subscription-based video-on-demand website. ALTBalaji, which debuted on April 16, 2017, is the Group’s first foray into the digital entertainment space, with the aim of producing original OTT content. The website has about 34 million paying subscribers.
ALTBalaji’s audiences can access it via 32 different interfaces. The content is accessible via mobile phones and tablets (Apple phone, Apple iPad, Android phone, Android tablet), internet browser (Desktop Browser), Android TV, including Windows (Windows PC, Windows Mobile, Windows tablet).
According to their website, the portal is India’s largest content bank. The content from a variety from drama to comedy and romance, as well as thrillers, crimes, and mysteries
9. JIO Cinema
JioCinema is an Indian premium video-on-demand and over-the-top streaming service operated by Jio Platforms, a Reliance Industries Limited subsidiary. JioCinema, which debuted on September 5, 2016, has a content collection that covers films, tv programs, web series, music videos, and documentaries. The software is available for both Android and iOS users.
JioCinema debuted on September 5, 2016, in conjunction with Jio’s public launch. JioCinema is among one of the apps presented exclusively for Jio subscribers, along with others operated by Jio Platforms (JioTV, JioSaavn, JioNews, JioMart, JioMeet, JioChat, and JioTalks).
10. Youtube Premium
YouTube Premium (previously YouTube Red) is a video website YouTube’s subscription service. The service offers ad-free access to all content on the web, and also subscription to premium YouTube Originals content created in conjunction with the site’s producers, video downloads and background playback on handheld devices, and subscription to the YouTube Music streaming music service.
The service was initially unveiled as Music Key on November 14, 2014, and offered only ad-free streaming of music videos from licensed labels on YouTube and Google Play Music. On October 31, 2015, the app was redesigned and rebooted as YouTube Red, offering ad-free access to all YouTube content rather than only audio.
On May 17, 2018, YouTube launched the rebranding of the channel as YouTube Premium, as well as the return of a dedicated YouTube Music streaming service. Subsequently that year, it was announced that YouTube was aiming to make some of its original shows accessible on an ad-supported basis.
The Viral Fever appended to TVF, is an Indian video-on-demand and over-the-top subscription service as well as a YouTube channel established in 2010 by TVF Media Labs and now owned and managed by Contagious Online Media Network Private Limited. As per Arunabh Kumar, the owner, the idea behind TVF has been to go out to the millennial population, who hardly ever watch television content.
The Viral Fever had been an early entrant into the Indian digital entertainment market, with videos addressing a wide variety of subjects including Indian affairs, film, lifestyle, and new social concepts. With mega-hits like Permanent Roommates and TVF Pitchers, The Viral Fever was the leader of the web series in India.
Permanent Roommates, their initial web series, premiered in 2014. By June 2015, it had become the world’s second most-watched long-form web series. In June 2015, TVF Pitchers, a 2nd original season, was announced. It depicts engineers from various industries who left their jobs to start their own companies. The organization secured $10 million in investment from Tiger Global in February 2016 as a result of its rising success, with both TVF Pitchers and Permanent Roommates being viewed by millions of people around the world.
Competition faced by the OTT market in India
The competition in the nation’s OTT streaming industry is gaining steam, with over 40 players vying for even more exposure in the muddled OTT market. India is now regarded as one of the most engaging OTT markets in Asia.
After experiencing a positive period (2016-18), the OTT industry in India is now going through an intensification process. By the end of 2021, India is expected to rank among the top ten OTT markets around the world. By 2023, India will boast more than 500 million online video viewers, trailing only China as the world’s top online video sector.
The TV may slow, but it will not be completely destroyed by the size of OTT, as has been seen in other markets. The TV industry in India will rise at an 11% CAGR from 2017 to 22 while the global growth rate will remain at 1.4% over the same time.
More than 170 million households in India have access to a television. Television will remain an essential part of Indian watching habits because a strong need for content drives it. The OTT players see this as a portal, or a mirror, into people’s hearts.
The biggest challenge for OTT is to correctly cater to regional markets which means more diversification of content libraries online as compared to television channels. While most of the OTT apps including YouTube have started working on this – a truly diverse and highly populated country like India will need precision when it comes to targeting audience groups.
The Indian OTT sector is one of the most competitive amongst emerging markets with over 40 players. While there have been debates about more and more people moving away from TV, Mandeep Kohli, Managing Director, and Partner, Boston Consulting Group India states that we are still some time away from that happening on a large scale in India. “The share of traditional media is slowly declining with increased digital adoption but there is still high headroom for penetration with only 54% of Indian households having a pay-TV connection compared to more than 70% in China.
For many households, TV continues to be the center of the home and a significant part of family time,” said Kohli, Managing Director, and Partner, Boston Consulting Group India.
OTT Platforms and Government Regulations
OTT platforms face the first obstacle in keeping track of their content after the government approves “films and audiovisual programs carried by internet service providers,” as well as “current affairs content.”
As a result of the union government’s decision to place OTT platforms under the aegis of the I&B Ministry, these platforms must register and authorize the content they plan to stream. Most OTT websites contain material that would otherwise be prohibited by Indian certification authorities, so this could create a lot of problems.
As OTT channels have long chosen to create movies and documentaries dealing with politically controversial but important issues, they will likely oppose any attempts at censorship. It will further be intriguing to see what rules if any, the I&B ministry establishes for governing these OTT channels.
here is a brief outlook on what could be the future of OTT in India:
1. Growth Forecast for OTT: According to a BCG Report
The OTT industry in India is likely to reach $ 5 bn in size by 2023. An increase in disposable income, an increase in internet penetration in rural markets and OTT video adoption across demographic segments have been the key drivers of OTT market growth in India.
2. Rural demand will drive OTT: With increased internet penetration in rural areas (estimated to be ~650 mn by 2023), OTT players are keen on developing regional content to cater to the rural markets. This is confirmed by Nachiket Pantvaidya, CEO, ALTBalaji and Group COO, Balaji Telefilms who mentioned in one of the interviews that the lack of other entertainment options has spurred audiences (mostly from Tier2 & Tier 3 cities)
3. Content is always the key: To keep up with the growing demand for more content, OTT behemoth Netflix is planning to spend INR 3000 crore to create content in the Indian context. At the same time, production houses with immense production experience, and knowledge about what content consumers prefer are venturing from linear TV to OTT. Many production houses have already made the collection of their content available for platforms like YouTube. Most of them have already started reaching out to other rising OTT platforms of preference in India such as Hotstar, Sony LIV, Hoichoi, Eros Now, and Sun NXT.
4. OTT freebies provide an arsenal for telecom wars: Proliferation of smartphones and internet connectivity at a cheaper rate coupled with extended lockdowns and its repercussions, OTT seems to be the next normal in the world of entertainment. Therefore, telecom carriers are offering incentives such as subscriptions to services from Netflix to Amazon Prime to win customers in a content-hungry market.
5. Kids Edutainment: In a 2019 report by Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India, the share of localized content across national kids’ entertainment channels detailed an increase from 33% in 2016 to 39% in 2018. There is a huge market in the kid’s genre and along with the international players like POGO, Cartoon Network, Discovery Kids, homegrown Indian brands like VOOT kids, Hungama Kids, and Zee5 Kids are fighting for a share of the market.
In the field of kid’s education, owing to shut down and indefinite closure of schools, a Bobble.AI report states that edutech platforms such as Udemy, Unacademy, and Byjus, have posted an 82.73% increase in time spent, along with a 122.62% increase in engagement and a 25.12% increase in DAUs.
6. Corporate Learning Management Solution: At a time when physically attending training is a distant idea, organizations can meet their learning objectives by incorporating a corporate e-learning solution
. In this era of Netflix and YouTube, and efficient Learning Management Solution empowers employees with the flexibility to access training at their own will and pace. With features like advanced search and filtering, employees can search and consume relevant materials whenever needed. In addition to the flexibility to learn, gamification in such solutions helps in higher engagement levels and can even help in improving overall retention too.
7. Online gaming is a new frontier: Gaming apps topped the new downloads category on both Android and iOS phones in Q1 of 2020. Especially around the younger population and the conducive environment, gaming could emerge to be a major beneficiary of the overall digital ecosystem. Media companies and OTT providers especially can look at adding gaming as a potent extension to their ecosystem offerings.
8. Demand for OTT in Health & Fitness: Video streaming platforms having got an opportunity to expand their offerings into genres like health & fitness have entered into strategic alliances to cater to the increased demand and emerging audience segments.
According to a Bobble AI – The Conversation Media Platform the report, besides video conferencing apps, and websites, fitness applications such as Lose Weight, and Cure.fit , recorded a 104.53% rise in daily active users (DAUs) with engagement rate increasing by 14.72%, and time spent on the app increasing by 39.50%.
9. Redefining Sports via OTT: The disruption of sports broadcasting due to Covid-19 has led to significant erosion of revenue for operators and Pay-TV providers. Yet at a time, when social distancing norms have disrupted live sports, Star & Disney India in the form of Disney+Hotstar VIP have given great joy to a cricket-crazy nation.
It is true that OTT platforms have helped keep the sanity intact in these difficult times by being a major source of entertainment. By imbibing new-age technology in all aspects of the subscriber lifecycle, OTT providers can prevent subscriber churn and offer a great quality of experience to customers.