Now Streaming: 2019 - Siddhartha Roy, Hungama Digital Media
COO, Hungama Digital Media says while metropolitan India will continue to consume content with equal gusto, it is the Tier II & Tier III markets that will lead the growth in consumption
2018 saw video streaming services further strengthen their presence in the country. Riding on the back of extremely affordable data plans and an unprecedented consumer demand for quality content, OTT platforms looked for interesting ways to get new consumers on-board, as well as, keep the existing ones engaged. Content, of course, emerged as the undisputed king, not just in a proverbial sense, but even in terms of what clicked with the audience. Product innovations and distribution strategy further helped in making the perfect recipe for increased content consumption. The vigour that the industry showed in 2018 sheds a strong light on what’s in store for us in the coming year.
Bharat will drive consumption
While metropolitan India will continue to consume content with equal gusto, it is the Tier II and Tier III markets that will lead the growth in consumption. With data prices being so competitive, and smartphone penetration expected to clock record-breaking numbers, the heartland of India will also witness a sizeable number of first-time users as well. Given that entertainment, particularly video, is one of the first categories that a user experiences on a smartphone, video consumption is bound to witness a 100 per cent growth driven largely by regional markets.
Strengthening distribution channels
As we continue to lay greater emphasis on digitisation, set top and DTH boxes, TVs, telecom players etc. assume a bigger role. For any piece of content to reach a wider audience, it has become necessary for OTT players to rely on strong distribution partners. Whether it is through improving content availability or simplified billing, telecom players, DTH service providers, OEMs, open networks, all will have a major role to play in 2019.
Moving beyond Hindi
While Hindi content constituted almost 75 per cent of the entire consumption pie a few years ago, data penetration and smartphone usage patterns have changed these numbers. On our platforms alone, over 48 per cent of our audience consumes content in languages besides Hindi, signifying a robust demand for content in languages such as Punjabi, Tamil, Telegu, Kannada, Bengali, Marathi, among others. Of course, audiences in Tier II and Tier III markets have a huge role to play in this, however, the contribution of metro audiences is significant as well. These viewers who, so far, only had access to Hindi and English content are suddenly exposed to a wide array of great consumer stories in various languages made comprehensible through subtitles. This trend of consuming content across languages is expected to rise further with an increasing number of VoD consumers projected to experience video content in a language that they don’t understand.
Evolution of storytelling
With the audience becoming increasingly heterogeneous, storytellers will have the option to explore stories that resonate at a hyper-local level, yet, can be appreciated by a global audience. Content released this year serves as a good example to elucidate this point. Indian stories chartered into unexplored genres, were delivered to a global audience and won appreciation because of the universal appeal of the content, even if narrated in the Indian context. Likewise, the power of the digital medium has attracted some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, including actors, directors and producers, and this trend doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. The industry’s slate for the next two years looks promising and we can expect more dynamism in the stories that are presented on digital screens.
The advertiser interest in the video streaming space has grown by leaps and bounds in the last two years. India is still predominantly an AVOD market and while subscription numbers are expected to increase, AVOD is still expected to trump SVOD. Advertisers today are presented with multiple formats and innovations to amplify their message. Further, they have the option of customising their messages and segregating their audiences like never before, from age and gender to region, likes and dislikes – ads can be sliced and diced to suit the marketers’ requirements. Like with content, targeted advertising and messaging will be the future. Big data will allow brands to leverage the audiences’ consumption habits for better ad targeting, in turn driving more premium and relevant brand interactions. Advertisers and platforms will be constantly trying to innovate and explore newer, sleeker and more immersive ad formats. Branded content too will be an opportunity for platforms to combine an advertiser’s message with a compelling story. With a proven viability on video-sharing sites, branded content’s advent on the OTT platforms will be something to watch out for.
(The author is the Chief Operating Officer of Hungama Digital Media Entertainment Private Limited)
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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