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EDITED: Focus on regional content and lower data rates drove OTT viewership in 2017

30-November--0001
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EDITED: Focus on regional content and lower data rates drove OTT viewership in 2017

The OTT market in India witnessed heavy investments and rising popularity in 2017. With sharp rise in smartphone sales in the country, falling data tariffs, 4G rollout and improvement in payment gateways, OTT market is growing at a dynamic pace of 35-40 per cent year-on-year. Moreover, the entry of global players like Amazon Prime Video India and Netflix in OTT’s space has added a new promise in this segment.

Entry of new players

In 2017 Balaji Telefilms joined the OTT video bandwagon with the launch of its streaming application, ALTBalaji. It was ranked at no. 4 in the recently released Google Play's "Best of 2017" India list. The annual rankings reveal the most popular apps, games, movies, books and music on the Android platform in India.

Hotstar continues to lead

The number of OTT players in India's streaming market continue to grow with global biggies such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Videos, as well as home grown start-up platforms like Star India’s Hotstar, Viacom18’s Voot, Zee’s dittoTV, Balaji Telefilms’ ALT Balaji and Sony’s SonyLiv, not to mention independent platforms like Spuul and TVF Play among several others joining it. It's safe to say the Indian OTT market is witnessing tough competition. Despite this, in 2017, Hotstar continued to lead the market among India's video streaming services when measured by active subscribers.

Rise in Regional OTT Consumption

In 2017, players such as Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar, Netflix, ALTBalaji, Voot and SonyLiv invested heavily in creating and distributing original programming in Hindi and regional languages. Many OTT players continued to bet big on regional content. After the success of SonyLiv’s Marathi web series Yolo, the channel introduced a Gujarati web series and now plans to diverge into regional short films. Ekta Kapoor’s ALTBalaji launched its first regional show — a Tamil show Maya Thirrai in May and is expanding by introducing regional shows in Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, Telugu and Gujarati.

Speaking about the trends in OTT in 2017, Siddhartha Roy, CEO of Hungama.com, said, “Overall, 2017 has been a big year for the growth of digital entertainment and particularly the OTT industry, which has been aptly supported by a rapidly expanding device and data ecosystem. In 2017, we have observed a staggering increase in the number of Indian originals, including Bollywood and south-Indian cinema stars marking their digital debuts. Another highlight of this year has been an increased regionalization of content, as key players added a slew of regional language content to their respective libraries. It would be unfair to say that only one or two types of content drove the overall growth in OTT in 2017. OTT players who invested in telling stories drove content consumption and deeper service penetration. Moreover, the average Indian consumer actively consumed short-format video content on their mobile devices. These short form videos range from five mins to 20 mins in duration across categories in entertainment, lifestyle and kids. Short-format or bite-sized content is a preferred choice among Hungama Play users as well; our OTT consumption has increased multifold where the average time spent has grown by over a 100 per cent in a short span of time.”

Speaking about the developments in OTT space and the trend expected in 2018, Tarun Katial, CEO of Reliance Broadcast Network Limited (RBNL,) added, “I think 2018 will be the year of OTT in India, with lowering data cost and rising digital content consumption. There will be proliferation of content and consumption of OTT in 2018.”

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