Time for OTT to go exclusive

Better mobile network, low-cost bandwidth, and pocket-friendly handsets are driving the demand for OTT. Next on block is all-in-one personalized content package


Consumer tastes are dynamic and ever evolving. Nowhere else is this more obvious than in the content they consume. India as a media and entertainment market has been undergoing evolution with viewers’ tastes maturing. This, in turn, is leading to rising demand for original and varied content.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated the pace of change. Lockdowns and restrictions on mobility and socializing have confined people within their homes. In addition, lockdowns also necessitated closing down of cinema theatres and multiplexes. In order to address boredom and find new ways of keeping themselves engaged, people have naturally turned to OTT platforms for consuming good content. Film makers have also pivoted on OTT platforms for launching their new releases.

Other factors supporting the rising popularity of OTT amongst Indian consumers include factors such as better network bandwidth and connectivity as well as emergence of a range of pocket-friendly devices capable of streaming multimedia. A recent KPMG India report estimates that Indian online video subscribers will grow over 500 million by 2023 primarily due to these factors. This is also a reason why tier 1 and tier 2 cities are seeing a growth in the number of new OTT subscribers. This has led the media and entertainment industry to keep a sharp eye on the possibilities represented by OTT. Kenneth Research’s OTT (Over­The-Top) Market report for 2021 estimates that the Indian OTT market is set to reach Rs 237.86 billion (USD3.22 billion) by financial year 2025, from Rs 42.50 billion (USD576.73 million) in 2019.

Which content is capturing eyeballs?

The modern viewers’ expectations from OTT are undergoing rapid change. One of the biggest trends witnessed is that Indian viewers have gone from passive consumption of what is available on their screens to active demand for content that they like and want to watch. Here, factors such as availability of multiple streaming options under one roof and greater emphasis on quality of content are playing an important role. A recent Amdocs survey shows that, on an average, surveyed Indian consumers have two media and entertainment subscriptions to satellite/cable TV, video, and music streaming services and around three-fifth consumers have added a video streaming service (62%} to their household since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

Moreover, quality of content is a far greater loyalty driver in comparison to attractive prices being offered by different OTT players. In the same survey, consumers were asked what drove their loyalty to a media/entertainment provider of any kind. The most likely top three factors for just under three quarters of the respondents were the quality of content (71%} compared to less than half who said price, or price options (45%}.

Another key trend is that there is growing demand for personalization of content selection as well as rising inclination towards vernacular and regional content within domestic territory as well as the global space. In fact, Hotstar India’s study of its pan India consumer base clearly points that the regional-language content drove more than 40% video consumption, with Tamil, Telugu and Bengali content leading the demand. And as per FICCI-PwC research, the share of regional language consumption on OTT platforms will cross 50% of the total time spent by 2025, moving past Hindi at 45%.

Given the changing business dynamics and consumer preferences, OTT players need to invest in creating original content that resonates with the viewers. Additionally localizing content in native languages of each country and dialect will allow content owners to further monetize their content even more. The recent success of Spanish series Casa de Papel, which is being localized in numerous languages and rechristened as Money Heist shows the appeal of this strategy. Some of the major players in the OTT market are already making inroads in this aspect. Netflix’s CEO, Reed Hastings, had shared the platform’s plan to invest approximately Rs 3,000 crore in original content for India, while Amazon Prime Video is also working on doubling its original content offerings.

Customers want all-in-one personalized content package

As we continue to work, engage, collaborate, and socialize from within the confines of our homes, there has been a rise in the number of subscriptions across multiple on line services such as e-learning, e-health and wellness, entertainment, and gaming.

The customer of today wants convenience of accessing multiple subscriptions at one place. Therefore, packaged bundle services are becoming an attractive proposition for them – to be able to create and pay for content that they are interested in viewing, instead of paying for the provider’s entire library of content they have no interest in. In such a scenario, customers are willing to pay more to include on-demand binge-worthy TV series (56%}, all games for one specific sporting team (49%}, virtual classes/training (46%} or fitness classes with a “celebrity” trainer (45%}.

This changing customer demand offers a unique opportunity to service providers to provide an accessible, centralized, and personalized, all-in-one bundled package that covers video streaming, entertainment, and communication services, all at one place.

The next few years in the OTT space are primed for a lot of action. A large part of this will be a result of the increasing adoption of OTT platforms across smaller cities and beyond large metros. This would be powered by the country’s growing internet connectivity and OTT players’ original and varied offerings.

The OTT landscape is headed into highly competitive waters with international, national, and regional players, all jockeying for viewers’ eyeballs and mindshare. It would be interesting to see how OTT players go about retaining, engaging, and attracting more customers and offering them enhanced experiences.

Abrol is GM & Chief Commercial Officer,
Amdocs Media

VOICE&DATA | September 2021 | A CyberMedia Publication