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Netflix, Hotstar and Amazon Prime are seeing more paid users than ever before — here’s why

Over-the-top (OTT) platforms like Netflix, Hotstar and Amazon Prime Video have come out on top during the coronavirus pandemic. And their dominance is only set to grow further.

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The pandemic may have been the trigger, but sustainability is coming from other factors — with telecom bundling at the fore, users opting for annual subscriptions, and more people choosing to watch movies online rather than in theatres — according to a report by consulting firm RedSeer.

It highlights that the number of unique paid users grew by more than 35% in February 2021 as compared to April 2020. The overall number of paid users now stands at a whopping 31 million.

Subscriptions increased by 8% during the same period and each user is estimated to have 1.4 subscriptions to their name. Meanwhile, revenue from subscriptions jumped by a whopping 42% from $49 million to $68 million.

Telecom bundling
The COVID-19 lockdowns meant that more people were spending time at home. This meant watching more content on smartphones and the television. It also helped that theatres were shut down to prevent the spread of the infection, leaving users with no option but to sign on for services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hotstar in order to catch the latest releases.

A survey conducted by consultancy firm Ovum and software and services provider Amdocs revealed that 44% of Indian respondents were willing to spend more on their mobile and fixed broadband bills primarily due to bundling media services that were on offer.

And more than half said they subscribed to more than one OTT platform in order to meet the varied requirements of different members within the family.

New launches and the shift to online
In July 2020, Dil Bechara starring Sushant Singh Rajput made the biggest opening ever on Disney+ Hotstar. This was just one of many success stories of web platforms last year. LudoGulabo Sitabo and Choked were some other critically acclaimed films that made their debut on streaming platforms rather than in the theatres due to the lockdown.

RedSeer’s research shows that out of the 188 billion minutes users spend on OTT platforms, the highest proportion is geared towards daily soaps. “Over the past year, consumer behaviour has largely changed as they now heavily rely on OTT platforms for new content. This will inevitably accelerate the growth trajectory of the industry,” said the report.

Longer term subscriptions
The old conjecture that Indians are willing to shell out money changed drastically during the pandemic. Not only are they willing to spend, but the fact Indian users are budget conscious means that they are willing to sign on for longer term subscriptions since it gives them a bigger bang for their buck.

According to a joint report by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), people were willing to pay for longer subscriptions since out-of-home expenditure reduced during lockdowns. The excess was being redirected to spending on in-home services.

This was helped by the fact that the coronavirus pandemic was not a short-term phenomenon, and more users recognised that. This meant that users were willing to opt for annual subscription packs, especially with the discounts and offers that were up for grabs from different players. Business Insider

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