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VUBIQUITY on October 29th, 2021

How the pandemic has changed the streaming landscape for good

The factors for the growth of the OTT industry and what more we can expect from the segment

(Source: Business Insider India)

  • The pandemic gave a huge boost to the streaming industry. The OTT sector in India witnessed a 30% rise in the number of paid subscribers, from 22.2 million to 29.0 million between March and July 2020.
  • According to Amdocs’ India Streamer 2021 report, 76% of surveyed consumers are expected to add to their current number of subscriptions – the most likely being video streaming services, wellness and e-health, and eLearning services.
  • Here are a few changes we can expect from the industry in the near future, writes Raman Abrol, GM & Chief Commercial Officer, Amdocs Media.

The Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns saw public entertainment across India grind to a standstill. With theatres, cinemas, music concerts, shows and other events closed – and new releases and productions put on hold – consumers flocked to streaming services. 2020 redefined screen-watching for consumers and enabled them to watch their preferred content at their preferred time.

A young, growing population with increasing digital skills and more affordable smartphones, growth in mobile and broadband subscriptions and increased time spent at home are among key drivers that have made Over-the-Top (OTT) services a go-to choice for many.

As a result, the OTT sector in India witnessed a 30% rise in the number of paid subscribers, from 22.2 million to 29.0 million between March and July 2020. According to Amdocs’ India Streamer 2021 report, 76% of surveyed consumers are expected to add to their current number of subscriptions – the most likely being video streaming services, wellness and e-health, and eLearning services.


The OTT sector in India witnessed a 30% rise in the number of paid subscribers, from 22.2 million to 29.0 million between March and July 2020 UnSplash

What changes can we expect on the horizon?

This data shows some major emerging trends in the OTT space, which will further transform the way content would be created in the years to come. Here are four areas where we might see traction.

1. Continued demand for personalized, mega-content bundles: Consumers are increasingly looking at options to create and pay for content packages limited to only the content they want to watch. They do not want to pay for the service provider’s entire content library.

With schools, offices, and entertainment all coming together under one roof, entertainment services such as wellness, telehealth, e-learning are also becoming popular. However, managing multiple subscriptions across multiple providers is a major challenge that consumers are facing today. To deal with this, communications service providers (CSPs) are looking at offering consumers the ‘perfect bundle’. This would serve as a centralized space where they will be able to access their preferred media and entertainment subscriptions. The Amdocs survey shares that about 56% of the consumers would pay more to include on-demand binge-worthy TV series, 49% would prefer all games for one specific sporting team, 46% of the consumers would bundle up virtual classes/training, while 45% would prefer fitness classes with a “celebrity” trainer.

2. Growing popularity of localized content: The past year has seen a surge in demand for regional content. To cater to this rising demand by viewers for local language content, several regional OTT platforms have emerged in markets like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. OHO Gujarati (Gujarati), Hoichoi (Bengali), and Sun NXT (Malayalam) are some examples of popular regional OTT platforms. They have carved a niche space for themselves among the existing big players such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, among others. These OTT platforms are catering to local tastes and preferences, offering content in regional and local languages, showcasing local cultures, traditions and lifestyles. An increasing number of viewers from tier-2 and tier-3 cities and towns are also driving this growth. For example, since its launch in February 2020, Telugu service Aha Video has reached 1 million paid subscribers. With consumers looking for quality content, irrespective of the language, this trend is only expected to grow in the coming years. Regional language consumption on OTT platforms is expected to cross 50% of the total time spent by 2025, moving past Hindi at 45%, according to a FICCI-PwC report.

3. Rise in low-budget short-films production: Continued uncertainty around the pandemic has made the entertainment industry cautious about spending on big-budget productions. The growing demand by OTT subscribers for new, enthralling and diverse content is leading to an interesting trend gaining momentum – short stories and web series. These realistic, powerful, thought-provoking short films are sitting well with modern viewers. With consumers hungry for authentic, out-of-the box, realistic content, this trend for short, anthology-style films is expected to continue growing.

4. Immersive technology and 5G network will be game changers for Indian OTT players: The growing trend of streaming 4K videos requires enhanced internet bandwidth. With the accelerated pace of 5G technology adoption in the country, OTT providers are planning on providing their customers with seamless 4K video quality streaming solutions. 5G connectivity is expected to drive the growth of immersive entertainment experiences for users. Advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are increasingly proving to be transformative across different areas of the home entertainment industry. With the help of 5G 5 , consumers will be able to watch content using AR/VR gadgets, taking the entertainment experience to the next level.

Way forward

The OTT industry was experiencing slow and steady growth when Covid-19 acted as a catalyst for rapid transformation of this medium. From being on the curb to jumping onto the main street of entertainment, OTT has captured consumer eyeballs and hearts. Adoption of digital technologies, personalized bundling options, investments in original and locally relevant content, among others, will aid in furthering growth in the Indian OTT space.

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