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Streaming apps raise content budget for ad-led model

Video streaming platforms betting on ad-supported models are bumping up their content budgets, as they race to expand their regional language programming, platform executives and media industry analysts said.

Netflix Inc. had hinted at a possible advertising-based streaming option on 19 April. In May last year, Amazon Prime Video had launched miniTV, where Indian users can watch free videos within the Amazon app.

Siddhartha Roy, chief operating officer, Hungama Digital Media, is ready for ad-supported free content. The platform is committed to originals and the budget will rise 30% this year, he said. “Consuming content backed by advertising doesn’t mean audiences will accept sub-standard production quality. Even though we’re mainly looking at telling stories structured for the mobile phone, we’re working with big, reputed production houses and top-tier talent,” said Roy.

According to Neeraj Sharma, managing director, communications, media, and technology at Accenture India, advertising-based video on demand (AVoD) has the potential to dwarf subscription video on demand (SVoD) as advertising budgets keep moving towards digital. “In India, all major platforms have announced expansive content pipeline and investments in regional content are growing even faster. In the past five years, content investments have grown massively in India and they continue to rise because the market is still growing aggressively and all the big players have a need to hold on to and grow the consumer base. The dip in content investments at a global level seems to be a temporary phase,” Sharma said.

On Monday, ZEE5 said the platform will stream 80-plus titles in 2022 in various Indian languages, working with established production houses like BBC Studios, Applause Entertainment, and The Viral Fever. Late last month, Amazon Prime Video announced 40 new titles for India including originals and acquired programming with popular film industry producers and actors.

Amazon, Disney+ Hotstar, ZEE5, and SonyLIV did not respond to Mint’s queries on content investments. However, Netflix pointed to the fact that in its latest earnings call, co-chief executive, chief content officer, and director, Ted Sarandos said the platform will continue to invest both in the quality and variety of content. “We will continue to grow the content spend relative to prior years… we’re very focused on making sure that the impact of the slate continues to grow,” Sarandos had said. Saboodle

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