How will Flipkart leverage from its foray into video content

Industry watchers say that if content is good then audience is always ready to embrace a new platform & that Flipkart’s move will make it a one-stop shop for shopping to content

e4m by Shikha Paliwal
Published: Oct 17, 2019 8:57 AM  | 5 min read

Two months after e-commerce giant Flipkart announced its free video streaming service, it has taken the next big step with the launch of ‘Flipkart Video Originals’. What has triggered the company to step in to a space that is already swarming with players both big and small? The obvious inference is to Amazon’s Prime Video which is a big draw for consumers. If Flipkart hopes to rope in first-time internet users onto its platform, it will have to be able to compete with Amazon’s complete package.

The binge watching Indian is lapping up video content online. The availability of video in regional languages is further adding to the consumption. A KPMG study has predicted that more than 500 million Indians will be streaming videos online by 2023. Although there is no question that the appetite for video content in India will only grow, given the plethora of players and bulk of content available the winners will only be decided basis the quality of their content and craft.

Industry watchers have given an unanimous verdict on the launch of Flipkart’s Original Videos. According to the experts, if the content on Flipkart is top class then it’s not too late in the day for them to expect a switch in loyalty to fatten its user base.

M K Machaiah, President, Content+, Mindshare, says: “Good content will always get watched or spoken. Therefore, it’s not late for any OTT platform to launch. What’s important is to get the content strategy right to add value to the platform. For example, when Colors TV was launched, there were many established players in the market place but through their content, they went on to become the topmost channel.”

Video consumption has exploded due to low data rates and audiences are more than equipped to lap up good content, hence branching out in video space is very lucrative, believes Sagar Patil, Associate Media Director - Digital, Carat India. “There’s enough and more space for new players to thrive. The audience is embracing good content irrespective of the platform. It will add value since it will make it a one-stop shop ranging from shopping to content,” he added.

On the day of the official announcement, the company categorically stated that Flipkart Video in August was launched with the aim to on-board new customers who are not necessarily new to the internet, but are new to e-commerce. Buoyed by the positive response to their online content, Flipkart decided to launch their ‘Video Originals’. To sweeten the deal further, customers will be able to watch this content free of cost.

According to Nihal Nambiar, AVP Strategic Solutions, iProspect, “Strategically speaking, direct monetization is secondary at this point in time. Any SVOD business Flipkart gets could be considered a bonus. Even Amazon bundled its delivery service with its OTT offering. The idea of the content service is to keep the consumers in the Flipkart eco-system. Earlier, Flipkart was a pure e-commerce player but now it offers a variety of services on its platform like flights, aspiring to be a one-stop shop.”

Another insights, Nambiar shares, is that content is one thing that is consumed and binged on a daily basis. “It’s the biggest draw for people to be online. Ensuring that consumers keep using the platform daily is a key driver of business. Think how 24-hour stories boosted daily activity for the social media. Once users are hooked on, Flipkart can use a variety of options to monetize like using its ad platform to show ads etc.”

‘Originals’ is the USP for existing video streaming platforms. Besides the huge movie libraries and shared content, in the case of OTT players that have TV channels behind them, consumers are drawn to shows that have fresh content and can be watched at their time and convenience. This is why Flipkart is leaving no stone unturned to ensure the content will impress viewers. The first creator on board is Academy Award winner Guneet Monga. In the pipeline are production houses such as Studio Next, Frames and Sikhya Production. The first original series ‘Backbenchers’ will be hosted by Farah Khan that will go live later this month. According to the company, “Flipkart Video Originals will make available bespoke snackable content that is both mobile-first and interactive in nature.”

Launched in 2016, Amazon Prime Video’s has the first movers’ advantage over Flipkart in the video content space, it also has the backing of an enviable content library. Will Flipkart’s late entry then be able to have any impact?

Harikrishnan Pillai, Co-founder and CEO, TheSmallBigIdea, has faith that Flipkart, late or not, will manage to make its place. He says, “We are in a time where, if one has the tenacity to hold onto its business and acquire market share, even a late entrant can become a strong player. With approximately 42 per cent internet penetration, the market is still very huge and open for accommodating another OTT player. OTT players who create great content will always have takers. Flipkart with its understanding of the digital space, access to audience data and their preferences are nicely poised to conduct any business in the digital space.”

Flipkart on its part seems to be on an aggressive expansion plan to take on rival Amazon. As per reports, the Walmart-owned platform is also venturing into the food retail space in India with its new entity called the Flipkart Farmermart. Video, groceries or e-retail, the brand clearly wants to ensure that the customer can bank on its platform as a one-stop destination for all their needs.

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