Gurjit Singh
Dy. GM – International Distribution,
Times Network

The Advent Of OTT In India

With many media and content companies jumping on the streaming TV bandwagon in India, the marketplace in the country is becoming increasingly fragmented and it is creating even more competition for high-quality content to keep viewers hooked. With nearly 500 million internet users, a figure that is growing at a rate of 8 percent, India has become one of the largest drivers of digital innovation across the world. India’s potential as a market for global media and the entertainment sector is unprecedented.

The future of OTT is very bright in India. Companies providing the services are betting on the above trends and figures. Although globally the industry is flooded with various players, revenue from India alone is pegged at `2019 crore in 2017 and is expected to reach `5595 crore by 2022 (according to the PwC report).

To give an additional boost, the government’s Digital India initiative is helping even the most remote villages in the country to stay connected with the internet. This extraordinary development of a digital ecosystem is taking place in our country and is in sync with the advent of OTT.

Indian culture and viewing trends of the audience also play a major role in this transition. Around 93 percent of the time Indians spend on viewing content online, is spent watching Hindi and regional language content. Our viewers value good content, which paves the way for the growth of media houses and entertainment giants to offer more high-quality, original, exclusive, and home-grown content.

Even international players like Amazon and Netflix have a special focus on the Indian market. They have not only come up with English centric content, but are also focusing on Hindi and Regional content. Their video content portfolio is led by Bollywood movies which is a popular and must carry category to woo the Indian audience and this has recently started a new trend of producing a very high-quality original content, roping in some big names of Bollywood.

In today’s time what is encouraging is how non-linear media is expected to grow on the back of increase in device penetration, lower internet prices, consumer content demand, and portability preferences.

India has always been a pay-TV-dominant market for many years. To give you a small background, there have been over 60,000 LCOs (local cable operators) and some 1000 MSOs (multi-system operators) existing competitively for many years in the country. However, the competition among cable operators and changing digitization policies have opened up the opportunity for OTT services to set their foot in this high-potential market. With all the factors playing a favorable role, India is gradually becoming a mainstream entertainment destination in the midst of growing internet users, with the rapid commoditization of data and the ongoing price wars.

OTT undoubtedly is the fastest growing medium of digital consumption and everyone from traditional media to new age and even telcos are betting on this increasing trend in India. With more and more broadcasters, mobile operators, and media houses all experimenting with the idea of OTT, the future for the Indian consumer is going to be filled with plenty of options and binge watching.

However, in-between these changes, the pricing war will also determine who ultimately wins. Today the OTT platforms owned by major broadcasters in India mostly offer a major portion of their library for free (ad supported) with a mix of premium and ad-free content on a subscription model. At the same time, international platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime are fully paid services. The time will tell, if the international platforms entering the Indian market are able to outpace and win versus their Indian competitors.

Among all this, India continues to be one of the fastest growing entertainment and media markets globally. With a potential target audience of over 300 million smartphone users, it is the second largest smartphone market in the world and is expected to reach 500 million very quickly.

Online video streaming and watching your favorite content online is a more feasible option today than ever before.

We have exciting times ahead!

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