The Over-The-Top (OTT) space is going to be bigger. Proof lies in the increasing number of users and players. According to media research agency Media Partners Asia, as of December 2015, the online video market in India was pegged at $140 million, with Google Inc's YouTube capturing a lion's share of the market. Industry insiders quoted that the OTT market in India is expected to cross 100 million unique monthly users by 2020 due to smartphone adoption and internet penetration. Consumption of online video content is up from 49 to 66 percent over the last year according to KPMG FICCI Report 2016.
Netflix made a buzz with its entry which was followed by a spurt of new players in OTT segment including Viacom18’s Voot and Vuclip’s Viu, among others. Gaurav Gandhi, Chief Operating Officer, Viacom18 Digital Ventures explains the nature of the space, “There are four kinds of players in OTT video space: large media and content companies like Viacom, STAR, Zee and Sony – which own most of their IP; international players like Netflix, Amazon (prime) and Viu; third party aggregators like YuppTv, Spuul, Hungama etc and large social and UGC Video platforms - Youtube and Facebook.” He also feels that the OTT space will largely be ad supported in the near term because of multiple factors including data prices, consumer mind set about paying for content and limited payment gateways.
The space with over 30 players will receive a tremendous boost with the upcoming launch of SVOD service Amazon Prime Video, scheduled later this year. It’s clear that both Netflix and Amazon are seeing potential in subscription-led business model. Closer home Balaji Telefilms will launch subscription-based OTT platform ALT soon.
When it comes to content, players are experimenting with different formats and genres that has resulted in creative content, short films and shows. For instance, SonyLiv, SPN’s digital arm has a short film category and recently partnered with Subhash Ghai’s Mukta Arts to offer 100 short films (produced by the latter). CatchupTV (recorded content, mostly programmes) and sports are favouring most of the broadcasters. ErosNow, the digital over-the-top distribution service of Eros International Plc has content has content tie-ups with Hum TV, MSM (for Sony Entertainment and SAB TV shows) and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. Original content is another genre cashed in on by most of the players across categories with the recent success of On Air with AIB and TVF’s Pitchers among others.
Movie is facing some challenges due to expensive data prices. Spuul, an aggregator of Bollywood movies has countered this problem with the launch of Tiny, a mini-rendition of a movie fit to be downloaded in under 60 MB on mobile devices. We understand what content is working for the above companies to expand their base..
Broadcasters’ game plan
When it comes broadcasters’ OTT services Star-owned Hotstar has been making quite a buzz with their content strategy and new services. Having recently entered into a paid format with its premium service called Hotstar Premium (on a monthly subscription of Rs 199), its subscription base is 10 times more than Netflix India. The premium service sells its most popular international TV series and films, largely from the 21st Century Fox library. The news of the latest season of ‘Games of Thrones’ making an entry into Hotstar also worked in its favour on spiking its subscriber base.
Sports content is working well for the broadcasters. Vivo IPL had attracted 100 million viewers in Hotstar with 10 sponsors lined up before the tournament itself. Recently it has released ad films to drive viewership and awareness about the coverage it has planned for the upcoming Rio 2016 Olympic Games. For SPN’s SonyLiv UEFA Euro 2016 did wonders. “The tournament definitely brought in a significant number of new users,” shares Uday Sodhi, Executive Vice President & Head-Digital, Sony Pictures Networks India. The network has recently acquired the exclusive broadcast rights to telecast the 2016 edition of the International Champions Cup in India. According to Sodhi SonyLiv has more than 20 million downloads. “Subscribers are increasing. On an annual basis we are seeing a huge surge,” he shares without divulging the subscriber number.
Viacom18’s digital arm Voot in a short span of time has got 12 million monthly active users. According to the programming head, the digital audience favours catch-up TV, kids content under Voot Kids and original series under Voot Originals. Monika Shergill, Head - Content at Viacom18 Digital Ventures breaks it down, “Catch up TV is doing very well. Old shows like ‘Kaisi Hai Yaariyan’ are doing well. People are watching the current shows as well as the recently-concluded ‘Naagin.’ On weekdays there is a lot of drama consumption and reality on weekend. The launch of a new broadcast show or Voot Originals or an event like IIFA brings a spike in viewership.”
She adds, “Additionally we also create a lot of original content around our big reality properties like ‘Jhalak Dikhlaja’, ‘Roadies’, ‘Splitsvilla’ and ‘Big Boss,’ exclusive to Voot, which is also getting us a lot of traction. As a network Viacom18 scores big on reality content with eight of India’s top 10 reality shows with us.”
Sodhi agrees on the catch up TV content, “Normally it will be comedy and thriller that consumers look for. Big numbers come from ‘The Kapil Sharma Show’, ‘CID’ and ‘Tarak Mehta ka Ooltah Chashmah’ on a day to day basis. What else work are sports and movies. For instance, when we put big movie like ‘Fan’ and ‘Azhar’ on digital it brought in new users.”
On the other hand, Zee Digital Convergence, the digital arm of Zee Entertainment Enterprises (Zeel) raised eyebrows with the recent re-launch of its paid OTT platform dittoTV at Rs 20 per month.
Archana Anand, Business Head, dittoTV, shares, “We observed that live television followed by catch-up was consumed the most. We also saw healthy traction for library content (off-air shows) and would often get viewer requests to put up older shows. When it comes to genre GEC whether it is Hindi or regional, is extremely popular, followed by sports and news. Consumption of vernacular content is rising steadily. On certain occasions, we have seen higher consumption for regional GECs as compared to Hindi GECs. The regional viewer is also a returning viewer and spends more time viewing content as compared to the platform average.” According to Anand dittoTV has received phenomenal response across various platforms and have seen a substantial growth in the number of dittoTV subscribers.”
What’s working for global players?
International players in this segment have different content favouring them in the market. So while it’s Netflix Originals for Netflix, thematic videos have been a major draw for the users of the US-based Vuclip’s Viu. Thematic videos “are curated cluster of videos based on a central theme,” that’s exclusive to this video streaming service. For the uninitiated Viu was introduced in India this March with 17,000 hours of content across Bollywood, English and regional and 3,000 hours of music. They have partnered with production houses like Reliance Big Entertainment, Balaji Motion Pictures and BBC Worldwide among others and came out with their own original cricket-comedy chat show called ‘What the Duck’ under Viu Originals.
Nickhil Jakatdar, Founder and CEO, Vuclip, share his insights on it, “Our Global Video Insights survey have revealed that nearly 60% viewers have shown their preference to consume videos in comedy genre in Viu. Another user insight is that short form content (videos with a run time of 10-13 minutes) works best for Indians who consume video content on the go.”
The spokesperson of Netflix enlightens us more on it, “For now, we see that the shows Indians love are very similar to the other markets and the top ones are Netflix Originals like ‘Master of None’, ‘Narcos’, Marvel's ‘Daredevil’ and Marvel's ‘Jessica Jones’. In general, we have seen that great stories transcend borders. For instance ‘Narcos’ and ‘Making a Murderer’ ranked among the top 10 most viewed content in nearly all of our markets when they became available.”
Though Netflix’s subscribers in India are still not known but industry insiders quote it to be abysmal. On the other hand Viu claims its freemium business model has enabled them to win not just viewers but also “sustain our leadership across emerging markets of India, South East Asia and the Middle East.” “We have seen viewers who log in to view the free videos and then turn into subscribers after gaining a good viewing experience. Globally, I attribute the growth of our subscribers from 7.5 million per quarter in 2015 to 9 million per quarter today on account of this freemium model,” adds Jakatdar.