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OTT platforms to be key growth area for TV broadcasters

OTT platforms to be key growth area for TV broadcasters

Author | Collin Furtado | Monday, Mar 16,2015 8:23 AM

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OTT platforms to be key growth area for TV broadcasters

The drive towards digital or Over the Top (OTT) platforms is expected to grow exponentially with increasing efforts from TV broadcasters on the digital front and slow progress of digitization. We had earlier taken a look at broadcasters eyeing OTT services in order to grow their business in a single TV household (Broadcasters eye digital platforms to enhance viewership in single-TV households). We saw many developments and launches of apps and streaming platforms by broadcasters for monetisation (TV broadcasters look to monetising the digital beast in 2015). A recently launched report by Media Partners Asia (MPA) called Media Route 26 India says that the improving infrastructure such as the increase in internet enabled devices will support OTT services and will push advertising revenues here.

India’s active OTT video subscribers in 2014 were 12 million (12,300,000) and is expected to grow to 15 million (15,972,000) by 2015 says the MPA report. By 2020 India’s active OTT video subscribers are expected to grow to 105 million (105,123,000).

The number of mobile internet users in India had increased from 91 million in June 2013 to 137 million in June 2014 according to Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). It further increased to 159 million by October 2014 and by December 2014 had reached 179 million. Though broadband charges are high as of now, the report expects competition within the telecom companies to intensify, bringing down data tariff rates as 4G rolls out.

TV broadcasters are now in high gear to push their own OTT platforms. This comes at the cost of pulling off all their content from YouTube. This is what Star network had done some time before the launch of their OTT platform Hotstar in February this year. The app has already generated more than 4 million downloads during the two weeks following its launch and has caught the attention of advertisers targeting premium audiences says the MPA report. With tournaments such as the World Cup and Indian Premier League (IPL) being streamed live on the app the popularity of the OTT platform is expected to grow even higher. Starsports.com had managed to get a reach of 30 million viewers for IPL last year. With the Hotstar app offering viewers live coverage of the IPL free, it is expected to increase the reach twofold.

One of India’s first OTT platforms, Ditto TV under ZEEL network, has been increasing its investment in marketing. Zee also plans to produce two hours a day of exclusive content for its digital platforms and subsequently pull out all its content from YouTube said the MPA report. Many other broadcasters are expected to follow suit. 

By the end of 2014, the size of the online video advertising pie had reached to US$187 million in net terms the MPA report said. The digital advertising market size in India was around Rs.3,575 crore in the last fiscal and is expected to grow by 30 per cent this fiscal according Digital Advertising in India report by IAMAI and IMRB International.

However, YouTube has the maximum share of the online video advertising revenues while OTT platforms occupy a small portion of this pie. TV broadcasters however expect revenues from digital platforms to grow to 10-15% in a few years chiefly due to mobile advertising. 

Advertisers have taken interest in the organized quality content available which is watched by sizeable audience in the market and have made ample investments in them. FMCG brands such as Unilever and others are now said to be building 400-500 videos of branded content every year. This is said to be over and above the spends on online video advertising. The MPA report goes on to say that advertisers and agencies are positive on OTT platforms such as Hotstar. The reason for this confidence comes from the fact that the content has a proven audience and that the platform owners have a better understanding of distribution, viewer taste and demands it said.

The report also sees a bigger role played by telecom operators apart from higher internet data packages and speeds offered at lower prices. Mobile operators will be seen partnering with OTT services. For instance Airtel has partnered with Singtel and will be launching a video based OTT services (branded Hooq) in Q1 2015. Other major telecom players might choose to partner with existing OTT players to gain synergies. The report further looks at data revenue sharing with telecom operators to be a potential emerging source to generate revenue for OTT platforms.

However, the MPA report also sees some challenges for OTT services in India that need to be solved. One challenge is that advertising revenues might not be enough to justify the huge content investment. Therefore, platforms need to gradually move to subscription driven models from free to freemium (minimum subscription charges) to finally paid content. This will be challenging as consumers are used to availing content free of any charges. Second, though there has been shift in viewers consuming content on different platforms they have to ensure that there is no cannibalization of revenues between platforms (i.e. from OTT and cable & satellite TV). Third, domestic IP laws need to evolve and get stronger as increased internet penetration will lead to higher levels of piracy.

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