e4m PLAY Media Conference 2020: ‘OTT is now the new utility in town’

Tarun Katial, CEO, ZEE5 India, and Abhishek Rege, CEO, Endemol Shine, shared interesting insights as part of a session titled - ‘Over-The-Top Strategy for Binge-Indians’

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Aug 4, 2020 3:44 PM
e4m Play

COVID and the subsequent lockdown has resulted in OTT consumption reaching new heights and to understand the dynamics of this growth, its sustainability and the strategies being put in place to diversify it further exchange4media brought together industry leaders to share their expert views.

e4m PLAY 2020 - Streaming Media Conference & Awards saw Tarun Katial, CEO, ZEE5 India, and Abhishek Rege, CEO, Endemol Shine, engage in an insightful conversation with Nawal Ahuja, Co-Founder, exchange4media, as part of a session titled - ‘Over-The-Top Strategy for Binge-Indians’.

The conversation started off with a mention of ZEE5 being among the top 10 global apps for June as per Sensor Tower’s Store Intelligence platform.

Sharing more on the success story of ZEE5, Katial said: “It's been a long journey and it's not easy at all to stay on anybody’s connected device/ smartphones. What continues to work for us is our connection with India. We have always been proud of the fact that we work for all Indians. We have a wide spectrum — from free content or catch up content from all our 40 TV channels that ZEE produces to high-end series and originals and now direct movie premiers. At one end we serve a platform like KaiOS and on the other hand we got features and more to compete with platforms like Netflix. That diverse connect with India through technology, content, and through UI and UX which is served in 12 to 14 languages actually makes it happen for us.”

Asked to share a couple of aspects that would last post COVID with regards to content consumption on OTT, Rege said that largely at the basic level the content consumption and the taste of consumers haven’t really changed. “The changing demands in the content is where we see a shift in viewership. Binge watching a series has largely become a norm. The genres and requirements haven't changed.”

He further added, “When you look at India you have to create programming that works for the mass audience and that is why the spectrum of the audience has to be catered at various levels. From a viewer's perspective, we really need to keep our content offering as diversified as possible.”

Speaking on ways to go after a large consumer base, Katial said, “We just launched ZEE5 Club pack that offers consumers early access to all our shows, even watch all the episodes one day in advance. It also has the drama content we make with Alt Balaji along with Zindagi TV channel's library. But the biggest proposition on that is consumers will get to watch their favourite shows before they come on TV. We priced this at Rs 365 for 365 days, one rupee per day to watch your favourite TV shows 24 hours before TV. We think this will be the game-changer in building mass consumers into pay consumers.”

“COVID has really changed the thinking of the consumers and they are now willing to pay for content. We are seeing a phenomenal increase in our base of pay consumers,” Katial added.

On consumers being given the option to pay for selected content from each platform, the ZEE5 India CEO said: “We tried this for regions where they don’t have to pay for the national pack. For instance, we had a Tamil, Telugu and Kannada pack. It worked very well but the feedback we got was that people wanted to watch TV content in their own language. Therefore we launched a Rs 365 pack for 365 days. We've been listed on Paytm as a utility. Like electricity and water bills, you can pay for this on any platform. The tectonic shift is now we're looked upon as a utility rather than a service. OTT is now the new utility in town.”

Rege further spoke about the pay per view scenario. “It doesn’t make sense to charge for per film because at the end of the day you will never be able to recover the cost. It is a very DTH window kind of an idea where it's revenue share. The idea is to get someone to come on your platform and subscribe and continue using it,” he explained.

Speaking about regional versus national content, Rege said: “It is given that everyone wants to watch content in their vernacular. Today we have six regional languages that are being seen as key monetizable languages. What is changing is the dubbing and subtitling for global content. The access of content created in general is suddenly quite huge. But the medium does not require a lot of technological or channel support. This could be the game-changer for other languages which are termed as non-monetizable.”

Asked if OTT platforms could continue going after subscription revenue and increase the ARPUs in this market, reducing dependency on advertising in about three years, Katial said: “At the industry level there are two ends of this spectrum. The first end started very early in the digital video streaming space is YouTube and that skews the most. It is estimated that YouTube is worth about Rs 5000-7000 crore in India already. On the other end, there is Netflix which is pure play SVOD and Amazon Prime Video as well. In between there are other platforms which are both AVOD and SVOD. If you include YouTube, the industry is already earning a lot, it's in the range of Rs 6000-7000 crore. Even if you give 50% to YouTube, the overall industry is about Rs 10-15,000 crore.”

The conversation ended with the point about movies releasing on OTT. “Theatres will come back. The pie split between theatrical, satellite and digital will come back. We are already investing in direct to digital movies ourselves which are at our cost and not the cost defined by the market. We are in the process of building a slate of 18-20 movies in the next 18 months,” Katial concluded.

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