Industry predictions: 2019 to see more dynamic play in OTT space

Increased investment into original content, better customer engagement and proliferation of devices expected to bring key developments

e4m by Madhuwanti Saha & Anjali Thakur
Published: Jan 18, 2019 8:20 AM  | 6 min read

If 2018 saw OTT players like Amazon Prime Video India, Netflix and ZEE5 make a grand entry, 2019 will witness an explosion of big screen viewing and players experimenting with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
Advertisers and OTT platforms are equally excited about what lies ahead as the space spells exciting opportunities and accelerated growth for them. 

Here’s what industry experts have to say: 

Uday Sodhi, Business Head, Digital, Sony Pictures Network (for SonyLIV)
OTT will continue to grow as a category, significantly in advertising and subscription. The methodology of monetisation will become stronger and there will be an increase in the number of advertisers and subscribers.

We will see an increase in investment on content by most players, including SonyLIV. Apart from an increase in focus on regional content, there will be experimentations with new formats, second screen and interactivity. 

The third big development will be the proliferation and introduction of devices like Smart TVs and setup boxes, penetration of Firestick and Chromecast.  

Greg Armshaw, Head of Media, Asia, Brightcove
OTT advertising will become an important component of the monetisation mix of models and OTT players will look to utilise this. 

Advertisers globally are becoming aware about 'brand safe', high-quality environment paired with addressability of OTT videos. The good news is that the quality of the environment is high, so the rates should increase if the publishers stand firm and value their product. The great thing about video advertising is that it does not require literacy to be effective, so we can expect to see advertising-supported-video to reach a wider audience.

India has had an incredible video (TV and movie) industry running for decades and there is only so much an industry can scale, limited by the talent available.  That said, alternative forms of content creation can emerge as the traditional gatekeepers to an audience so that they are disintermediated.  I believe content creation and curation will continue to grow at least for the near future before the growth flattens.”

Akash Banerji, Senior VP, Head of Communications, Viacom 18 (for Voot) 
Few things that are going to happen on a big scale are conversion of Technology, Media and Teleco (TMT). One can see the conversion of these three industries happening with the data becoming cheap. Technology and telecom companies are realising that they need to have a presence within media in their own value chain because more and more consumers are spending their maximum time there. And for media companies, obviously, the conversion helps because that provides them additional means to distribute their content and monetize it. So conversion in the TMT space which largely leads to an ecosystem plane is going to be of immense importance. 

There will be an increase in the number of platforms getting freemium play and many of those will be dabbling with both SVOD and AVOD spaces. 

Discoverability of content, which essentially leads to a huge play on the market outside the platform and technology, and experience on the platform are going to be of great importance. 

The prices of Jio Giga fibre, the cost at which one gets broadband and the speed of the broadband are going to see a multiplier effect. It’s a far-fetched prediction but you never know if TV would become the new mobile. That’s something which we should be looking out for. Internationally, a lot of consumption on leading platforms like Netflix happens on TV, but not as a TV show but TV as hardware. There is going to be a huge explosion even in the TV ecosystem. 

More and more advertisers are realising the importance of having a digital presence. They will continue to put in more investment in AVOD. Within AVOD, YouTube and Facebook will be constantly challenged because other platforms like Voot and Hotstar have been showing amazing growth in their revenues. Within SVOD, more and more platforms continue to have their own SVOD play.  

Rahul Sarangi, Global Head, TVF
It is a very exciting year for OTT because everybody is trying different genres. Nobody knows what will speak to the audience. I think 2019 will be the big test year as we call it. This year, Domestic will be a big game-changer. OTT platforms on the domestic level have to understand the programming strategy. Also, this year will be about concept-driven content rather than big budget shows. I think it will be about 5 tentpoles, 8 mid-sized shows and 10-12 relatively smaller-scaled shows.

All the tentpole shows will be under subscription. It will be a prize war. It will be cost-sensitive and subscription will grow. 2019 will see the emergence of Transactional based Video-on-Demand (TVOD).

Girish Dwibhashyam, Head - Content, Consumer Engagement & Business Development, Spuul
2019 will be a year when a lot of platforms are going to figure out not only the content mix that works for them but also the effort that need to be put into customer engagement and content curation in the fight to retain customers and reduce churn. Use of AI and Machine Learning will be explored further. It will no longer be only about acquiring users and showing numbers but also about adding value to the user's time. 

The growth of viewership of regional and vernacular language content will be significantly higher than Hindi or English. Platforms and creators who will ride this wave will find themselves with a strong standing in the market for the next three years. 

New ‘hinterland audiences’ from tier 2 and 3 cities will heavily influence the growth of OTT. Premium Original Content will have to be put behind a paid wall. The investments are too heavy to monetize on AVOD, considering 85 per cent of ad spends still happen between two internet platforms in India. Short Form or lower-cost content will still find shelf space for monetization on AVOD. 

Big screen viewing will explode. More Smart TVs and streaming devices will be the point of viewing for high session times, mostly for watching feature films, shows and series. 

Animesh Misra, Marketing Head, Hooq 
The trend which is going to take a front seat in 2019 will evolve from consumer behaviour. Due to technological advancement in the video domain, there will be technological advancement with regards to the aspect of convenience for the consumers. In 2019, I see Hollywood content going mainstream. As a result, subtitling or dubbing will get prominence. 

Today exploration has been happening on mechanical terms. Instead of 'log in and search', it will now be the 'voice search mode'. 

People who are already in the SVOD section will look at new forms of SKUs to run the segments. People might look at the daily or weekly fee. SVOD will have a lot of technological advancements. 

The rollout of JioGigaFiber across the nation is definitely going to impact prices of different players. So people would want to have more mass content to compete with Jio. They will also lower the prices. If you have very strong original content at good value-based pricing, then you can probably fight the war with Jio. 

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