Gone are the days when we had to wait for a whole week to catch the new episode of our favourite TV show. Thanks to on-demand streaming services, we can now watch multiple episodes at once from the comfort of our homes. Subscription-based, on-demand OTT (Over-the-top) platforms have witnessed a rapid rise in popularity over the last couple of years. According to a recent report by the Boston Consulting Group, the Indian OTT industry (currently standing at $0.5 billion) has the potential to reach a whopping $5 billion by 2023.
The report titled ‘Entertainment Goes Online’, further reveals that a number of factors will collectively contribute to the growth of India’s OTT content market. Dushyant Kohli, Head Growth at NexGTv says that while the market is mainly advertising-led at present, the number of paying subscribers is increasing by the day. Moreover, the report says that many consumers will be OTT first - those who have never consumed content on TV. Not only metro cities, tier III, IV and rural areas will also play a major role in increased OTT consumption in the near future. The findings are surprising to say the least, and Kohli points at four factors that have paved the way for OTT platforms to explode on the entertainment scene in India.
Increased smartphone and internet penetration
According to Cisco’s 13th annual Visual Networking Index (VNI), there will be as many as 829 million smartphone users in India by 2022, accounting for 60% of the total population. Simultaneously, internet usage in the country will also go up in the next three years. As per the predictions, India’s mobile data consumption will increase by 5X, which proves how smartphones will be used for communication, social media and video consumption. What’s interesting is that video viewing is likely to account for 77% of all internet usage in the country in 2022. Another report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Kantar IMRB reveals that India has an estimated 281 million daily internet users. In fact, the number of mobile internet users increased by 11.34% from December 2016 to reach 481 million users by December 2017. The numbers speak for themselves. Thanks to easy access to smartphones and affordable availability of internet, OTT platforms are steadily taking over traditional TVs in Indian households.
Flexibility: Entertainment on-the-go and on demand
One of the biggest advantages OTT platforms have over Satellite TV is flexibility, which enables users to consume content anytime and anywhere. All that’s required is a smartphone with adequate data, and they can enjoy their favourite show regardless of their location. This flexibility has given Indian consumers a sense of freedom from strict timelines of scheduled broadcasts. Additionally, OTT platforms are providing a rather smooth viewing experience in terms of mobility. Whether one is travelling or waiting in a queue for their food, these online streaming services ensure there is no obstacle in the way of consumption of content.
Advances in cloud technology
Technological advances without a doubt have fueled the growth of OTT platforms. Especially, when it comes to VOD (Video-on-demand) services, integration of cloud computing has been a game changer in the OTT industry. Users are no longer required to download their favourite shows or wait for the repeat telecast. Rather, they have the option to choose what they want to see and when they want to see it. Additionally, these streaming services are offering solutions to users’ storage issues. Thanks to the rise of OTT platforms, they don’t have to fill up their devices with large files which can be accessed through streaming. Today, these platforms make use of advanced analytical tools to precisely target the viewers based on their personal preferences, age, demographics and lifestyle. As a result, consumers are spending more time on online video streaming services, binge-watching their favourite shows. When it comes to live content, Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) are there to minimize the latency that takes place due to transmission delays, enabling users to enjoy a seamless viewing experience. Moreover, AI-based engagement tools have allowed OTT platforms to not only catch the attention of viewers but also keep them hooked.
Diversity of content
In the initial years, OTT platforms only aired international shows which appealed to only a fraction of Indian viewers. However, as India moves towards digitization, both domestic and international players in the market are now coming up with a wide variety of content to reach a larger audience. Given the fact that India’s internet user base will be driven by rural consumers in the next two years, video streaming platforms have now started to look beyond English and Hindi for better engagement. These platforms are inclining towards regional content to receive a wider acceptance from new-age consumers who are quite particular about their needs. Besides this, there are streaming services that are enabling users to watch live news programmes and cricket matches on the go. From the perspective of content creators, this trend has allowed creative freedom as there is no censorship or gatekeepers. Unlike traditional cinema, this medium is not star-dependent, which is another added advantage.
Needless to say, OTT platforms are not only the future of television, but also the entertainment industry as a whole. Being the 2nd largest country in the world in terms of population, these platforms are projected to witness a tremendous growth in the coming years. Especially, in the era of internet explosion, the majority of the young population is opting for online video streaming services over traditional means of entertainment on the back of convenience as well as comfort. With a multitude of factors working together in the favour of India’s OTT industry, it’s only a matter of time when the concept of people watching traditional Satellite TV becomes a thing of the past....