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Guest Column: 2016 was a critical year for the OTT industry: Archana Anand, Z5 Business

14-January-2017
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Guest Column: 2016 was a critical year for the OTT industry: Archana Anand, Z5 Business

With a huge young demographic driving this trend of online consumption via smartphones and affordable mobile data, and a strongly evolving digital payments ecosystem, the OTT space in India is one the world will be watching very closely in 2017 says Archana Anand.

Content consumption patterns in India have evolved over the last few years and multiscreen video consumption has witnessed tremendous growth. We have entered an era where eyeballs are increasingly moving from the TV set to alternate screens, and phones, tablets, laptops etc. working together seamlessly on wireless internet. Consequently, consumers have adopted an anytime, anywhere, multi-device lifestyle and are increasingly looking to digital OTT platforms to access content, especially when they are on the go.

2016 has been a critical year for the OTT industry with increased smartphone and Internet penetration, and greater data affordability. We saw all the major telecom operators roll out more attractive data pricing – a move that will surely help drive greater usage since high data costs have been a key barrier for streaming video content.

Increased proliferation of Wifi, including in smaller towns, is another key development during the year that gave the necessary boost to the industry. 2016 also marked the entry of new domestic and international players. The influx of multiple players has helped the yet nascent OTT ecosystem evolve, as it helps drive more and more consumption of online content as a habit and people get increasingly habituated to watching the content of their choice and exploring multiple genres of content on personal devices such as smartphones, laptops etc.

However, for OTT to reach its true potential, there are still a few hurdles which remain to be overcome. Varying levels of broadband access and affordable data tariffs continue to remain key challenges for players in the OTT space. Other challenges include poor internet speeds with a dire need for the current 4.1 Mbps average speed to be improved upon and brought closer to global standards, better distribution and pricing, and control of piracy. The thrust of going cashless in the recent months is a critical enabler for a very nascent digital payments ecosystem to evolve, which will definitely help our OTT industry grow. In fact, several players announced tie-ups with telcos to provide ease of payment and subscription, which proved to be effective in customer acquisition, especially as people across strata came online for their content consumption.

We believe that the inexpensive smartphones and the rollout of 3G and 4G broadband infrastructure have given a significant boost to the digital entertainment industry in India. By mid-2016, India surpassed the USA in terms of Internet users, with still a huge headroom for growth, especially on mobile. By 2017, India will have more than 350 million smartphones, which will drive the popularity of OTT platforms further.

The OTT segment is a rapidly developing industry, with providers mapping current as well as emerging trends to map the future of digital content. OTT is taking over in the delivery of audio and video content using the Internet as a medium. Specifically with live television platforms on the rise, we foresee the future of television as going way beyond the traditional television screen and becoming more interactive and personal. The sector is likely to attract more investments and the OTT space is in India will also see a consolidation among players. With a huge young demographic driving this trend of online consumption, and a strongly evolving digital payments ecosystem, the OTT space in India is one the world will be watching very closely in 2017!

(The author is Head of Digital - India, Z5 Business)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com

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