OTTs bullish about connected TV segment as viewership soars

Surge in CTV viewership is a win-win situation for both platforms and advertisers, say experts

e4m by Javed Farooqui
Published: Aug 20, 2021 8:49 AM  | 6 min read
connected TV

While mobile continues to be the primary screen of digital content consumption, connected TV (CTV) is emerging as a fast-growing alternative to the small screen. All the leading over the top (OTT) platforms have seen tremendous growth in viewership on CTV. The platforms are eyeing significant revenue growth from the CTV segment.

While the CTV base is very low, the OTT platforms are gearing up for the future as Smart TV user base is witnessing exponential growth. According to FICCI-EY report, smart television sets grew their base to around 5-7 million homes. The connected smart TV sets are expected to reach 14 million by 2023 and 40 million by 2025.

The report further stated that CTVs will change the way people consume content, enabling people to interact with each other from their homes while viewing content.

According to sales decks of OTT platforms, the CTV user base has seen a dramatic surge in the recent past. The CTV base comprises premium customers and presents a unique monetisation opportunity for OTT platforms.

ZEE5 has seen a 3X surge in video views and 2X surge in users on CTV in the last year, as per its internal analytics. ZEE5 has 7 million monthly active users (MAUs) on Connected TV. The monthly video views (MVVs) stands at 25-30 million.

As per Mixpanel data of Voot, the platform has 5 million MAUs and 15 million+ monthly views on CTV. The OTT platform has seen a 25% increase in views per user post lockdown.

According to SonyLIV's sales deck, the platform has 15 million+ MAUs and 100 million+ video views per month in FY21. The total video impressions were 200 million+. The total Time Spent on Connected TV was 100 million+.

Disney+ Hotstar had seen 2.5X growth in CTV base in 2020. According to the platform's sales deck, almost 10% of its users watched high-impact properties like Bigg Boss Tamil and Telugu with family on Connected TV.

Manish Kalra, Chief Business Officer, ZEE5 India, believes that higher purchasing power across India, coupled with affordable pricing of smart TVs, has resulted in a massive shift in consumer behaviour, with people now migrating more to bigger screens. “With people being confined to their homes because of the recent humanitarian crisis, OTT viewership grew exponentially, and in turn, we observed a massive rise in content consumption on connected devices, heightening the living room experience.”

Kalra noted that ZEE5 has witnessed a rise of 45% in paid viewers and observed a 3X growth in the viewership on connected devices since the Covid-19 induced lockdown last year. He further stated that 3 out of 5 SVOD users watched content via connected devices on our platform, recording over 80% growth.

“Overall engagement grew as well as audiences have spent more time watching content on Connected TVs versus smartphones. This led to a growth ratio of 50-50, which marks a trend of higher engagement levels on Connected TV compared to content consumption on the smartphone. The smart TV penetration rate is high in India that adds to ZEE5’s business proposition in tapping the smaller markets with unique content choices,” he stated.

Gourav Rakshit, COO, Viacom18 Digital Ventures, averred that Voot has seen significant growth in advertising as well as a subscription on Connected TV. He also stated that Connected TV tends to consume content on the large screen. “Voot is seeing 50% ad growth annually, and even faster for subscribed users on Connected TV. It is becoming a prominent platform of consumption. One of the interesting things that we see is that OTT users who have migrated to TV don't necessarily consume as much on mobile. There is adoption that is still left, but once they try TV they don't tend to move back,” he said.

In terms of building apps for Connected TV devices, Rakshit said that the migration path to iOS and Android is simpler because the app already exists on these platforms. “Then there are those TVs that have their own operating systems, so one has to do ground-up development for those devices.”

Brands that target premium audiences have been early adopters of CTV advertising. “Brands are also figuring out the right playbook on Connected TV. Certainly, premium brands are looking at Connected TV as a means to reach out to these consumers. Those are the early adopters, but I think most of the advertisers will eventually move to Connected TV advertising, just like they have moved to digital advertising in a big way,” Rakshit asserted.

Abhishek Joshi, Business Head, SVOD & Head of Marketing and Business Partnerships, MX Player and MX TakaTak, said that the audience base of smart TVs is relatively small, however, they will support the future of content viewing.

“Connected as well casting devices help us extend our offerings to a wider audience base while allowing us to interact with our existing viewers using newer mediums. That being said, it’s a big opportunity for advertisers and brands as well, it allows them to engage with the premium user base of these devices that are primarily loyal and receptive to differentiated content,” Joshi stated.

“Connected devices are showing great potential for growth and hence gives all of us a bigger playground for innovation as well as inventory utilisation. So, it’s a win-win for both, the platform and the advertiser, and it poses as a big opportunity to be a part of the consideration set of this select audience.”

Kurate Digital Consulting Senior Partner Uday Sodhi said that the Connected TV's biggest advantage is that 3-4 million smart TV and connected devices are getting added every year, in addition to Amazon Fire Stick and Chromecast. “We are at 15-20 million Connected TVs. That number will jump to 70 million very quickly. The moment it reaches 30-40 million, we are talking about a very large set of users. This segment will give a large chunk of viewership to OTT.”

He noted that CTV monetisation is difficult because there is no click-through. “E-commerce doesn't advertise because performance-based ads are not possible on Connected TVs. So it plays like TV. OTT platforms will get far more data, which will help in better targeting,” Sodhi said.

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