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OTT – An Overview

Standing at ₹4,462 crore, India has become the 10th largest OTT market in the world and is projected to have the highest growth in the coming years.

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The ease of consuming uncensored, entertaining, dynamic and personalised content on a mobile or stationary device, has made OTT the prized platform especially by the millennials. What’s even more interesting is that rural consumers in India outnumber those in cities in terms of OTT viewership. Because of Reliance Jio, 65 percent of the OTT consumption comes from rural India which has only 40 percent internet connectivity.

OTT Platforms- A threat to TV medium
This pattern of consuming the content is threatening the conventional TV medium as more and more digital natives are switching over to their hand held device screen, watching Indian OTT platforms Viz. Hotstar, Alt Balaji, Zee5, Boot, Bigflix, Sony liv, Eros. Now, along with and international players viz. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video, Apple has also recently announced a new apple TV OTT service.

Key trends in OTT
1200 hours of fresh and content was produced for OTT platforms in 2018. 325 million people viewed videos on line in 2018. By 2020, 5G technology will roll out which will give immense impetus to the down load speed and online content resolution quality, thereby promoting the OTT operators.

Regulatory framework for OTT
In the absence of any law which can regulate OTT, the platforms are adopting voluntary codes of self-regulation in relation to content streaming on their network. All said & done, the OTT platforms are subject to Indian media laws as far as content is concerned. However the TV channels are not very happy due to the absence of regulatory guidelines as far as OTT networks are concerned.

TV channels had approached TRAI to air their views on regulatory framework for OTT communications services with telecom operators. Their grudge was that some of the standard OTTs content viz. voice and messaging services are perfect substitutes to services provided by telecoms and hence need to be regulated to avoid imbalance in the sector. The supporters of OTT services, however, retorted back that such apps are already regulated under Information Technology Act (IT Act), any additional regulation would only throttle and derail modernization and advancement in the sector.

PIL against OTT
In the interim, a PIL filed at Delhi High Court seeking direction from the court to the Government of India to frame guidelines to regulate OTT platforms and their content was dismissed as the court observed that OTT platform is regulated under IT Act and the PIL had no merit.

Can the government of the day regulate OTT?
Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology has invited comments/suggestions on the draft of The Information Technology [Intermediary Guidelines (Amendment) Rules] 2018.

If approved, Government of India can issue instructions to Facebook, Google, Twitter, Tik Tok and others to remove posts or videos that they deem hateful, defamatory, misleading, and offensive and are a threat to right to privacy. Internet establishments will be required to build program screening tools to ensure blocking the sites, which in the eyes of the government are carrying unlawful information or content.

OTT to innovate in the coming years
As per Kathleen Barrett (OTT-Vimeo), one of the interesting opportunities enabled by OTT delivery is the ability to break out of the traditional television mould. This will open door to 10,000 niche channels, instead of every one just subscribing to HBO and Netflix.

Three and half decades ago, the best way to know about a country and its people was- to watch its television. Today with various OTT platforms worldwide, the globe has indeed shrunk and the information is literally available on the fingertip.

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