Regional will drive the next phase of OTT growth: Uday Sodhi, SonyLIV

EVP and Head Digital Business, SPN India says the surge in smart phone sales is driving the growth of over-the-top (OTT) industry like never before

e4m by Ruhail Amin
Updated: May 22, 2018 9:30 AM

The rise in the number of smart phone users has given content consumption a new meaning. With the number of smartphones users likely to cross 700 million by 2020, this surge is driving the growth of over-the-top (OTT) industry in a never seen before way. With new players, including international ones, making the OTT space more competitive, Uday Sodhi, EVP and Head Digital Business, Sony Pictures Networks India explains the challenges and opportunities in the space. Excerpts:

How has this year been so far for the OTT players?

It has been a good year for the OTT industry. With smart phone penetration and 4G adoption growing at rapid rate, the number of users is going to grow phenomenally to cross the 450 million mark in the coming years. Also, if you look at year-on-year (YoY) basis, the ad revenue is significantly higher in compared to last year. It is almost 300-400 per cent higher and there is a lot more to expect from this year.

With the number of OTT players increasing every year, has it been a challenge for first movers like SonyLIV to increase their user base?

In fact it is contrary. More players and more investments will drive more consumers which will benefit everyone eventually. We started around five years back and it has taken us a lot to build the right ecosystem. Now there are other big players along with us who are investing in technology, content and consumer experience and in the awareness of what is available online to draw the consumers. This is benefiting not any particular player but the entire industry.

When it comes to OTT content mix, it seems skewed towards a particular genre like sports. Do we see new content consumption trends emerging in the OTT space anytime soon?

There is no doubt that sports has become a large part of the OTT offering. At SonyLIV, we have the biggest cricket and soccer rights besides World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). All in all, sports is very large chunk followed by TV content. We also have fair amount of original content with over 80 plus original shows in four to five languages. When it comes to new content consumption trends, we are making a lot more content in regional languages. That is where the big growth is coming from. We also have close to 3000 to 4000 movies on our platform besides content around fitness and food. So I would say we are a 360 degree platform.

What kind of promise does regional hold for OTT players?

As stated regional holds big promise for us as it will attract the next 200 million users. One of the biggest reasons for this growth is the fact that regional markets are largely underserved when it comes to OTT content. I see a lot of growth coming from Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, Tamil and Telugu speaking regions. Moreover, as the options open up for consumers to view content on their smartphones, there is going to be upsurge in OTT content consumption which is already redefining the concept of prime time.

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