OTT - What's Streaming India?

Regional content production is on the rise, catering to a diverse linguistic audience, which is a unique aspect of the Indian market. This trend is not only attracting domestic players but also global giants who are investing heavily in local content, writes Aroon Kumar

The Indian Over-The-Top (OTT) media entertainment industry is experiencing a remarkable growth spurt, transforming the landscape of entertainment consumption across the nation.

As per a report by Statista, the revenue from the OTT video market in India is slated to reach a market volume of USD 5,584 million by 2028.

This comprehensive blog dives into the nuances of this burgeoning sector, exploring its rapid expansion, key challenges, popular content genres, the evolving viewership dynamics vis-à-vis traditional television, and the industry's future outlook.

The Meteoric Rise of OTT in India

  • Market growth and projections

The Indian OTT market is experiencing phenomenal growth. According to a study by The Hindu, currently, the country boasts over 45 million OTT subscribers, a figure that is anticipated to swell to 50 million by the end of 2024. Furthermore, according to marketfeed, the OTT market in India is on track to burgeon into a ₹12,000-crore industry by 2025, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 36% from ₹2,590 crores in 2018. This rapid growth trajectory highlights the sector's burgeoning prominence in the Indian entertainment landscape.

  • Evolution in content consumption

This industry's evolution is marked by a shift from traditional mediums like Doordarshan and Direct-to-Home (D2H) to digital OTT platforms. The Times of India reports an average Indian OTT viewer spends around 70 minutes daily on these platforms, with a viewing frequency of approximately 12.5x a week. This shift is not solely attributable to the pandemic; the trend has steadily risen over the past few years, with viewership spiking to two to three hours daily during the lockdowns.

  • Diverse audience engagement

The OTT platforms cater to various audiences, including Gen Z, millennials and GenX. The appeal of these platforms cuts across generational lines, showcasing their widespread acceptance and adaptability.

What are some of the leading OTT channels in India? 

Some of the popular OTT channels preferred by Indians include

● Amazon Prime Video

● Disney+ Hotstar

● Netflix

● Zee5

● Sony Liv

What are some of the popular OTT genres?

Growth of sports streaming in India

OTT sports streaming in India, especially for cricket, with platforms like Hotstar, SonyLiv, and JioCinema offering extensive content. A study by NASSCOM Comunity shows that 45 per cent of urban Indians subscribe to sports platforms, mainly driven by cricket, with 72 per cent following cricket content avidly.

Despite high costs for media rights, especially for high-profile events like the IPL, streaming services continue to invest heavily. This trend is not just for profit but to capture the cricket-loving Indian audience's attention.

Hotstar's success with IPL rights underscores this, while Viacom18's recent acquisition of IPL digital streaming rights for 2023-2027, backed by Reliance, marks a significant shift. JioCinema, also backed by Reliance, is disrupting the market by offering free IPL streaming, mirroring Jio's impact in the telecom sector. Thus when we speak of genres, live sports streaming on OTT in India is gradually gaining unprecedented popularity.

The Rise of Regional OTT in India

Emergence and Growth

Regional OTT platforms in India started gaining prominence around the mid-2010s. This rise can be attributed to several factors, such as increasing internet penetration, affordable data plans, and the growing demand for content in local languages. While platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video dominated the urban and English-speaking audience, regional OTTs began to cater to a more diverse and linguistically varied audience.

Diverse language content 

India's linguistic diversity is immense, with over 22 officially recognised languages and hundreds of dialects. Regional OTTs capitalised on this by offering content in languages like Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Marathi and more.

For instance, Sun NXT focuses on South Indian languages, Hoichoi serves Bengali-speaking audiences, and Aha is a Telugu-only platform.

Market data 

According to a KPMG report, the Indian OTT market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 28.6 per cent by 2024. As of 2023, there were over 40 OTT platforms in India, with a significant portion being regional. The regional OTT market is projected to expand rapidly, driven by local content production.

What’s supporting the growth of OTT in India?

Along with the rising OTT viewership, advertising through Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms is revolutionizing the way businesses reach their audiences, particularly those who are increasingly shifting from traditional TV to streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. This strategy is crucial in engaging the growing segment of consumers who are less exposed to conventional TV ads. Today, OTT advertising stands out as an efficient, creative method for presenting advertisements directly to viewers via streaming platforms and devices. This form of advertising is reaching consumers through various digital devices, including connected TVs (CTV), laptops, tablets, and smart TVs.

The rising popularity of OTT advertising can be attributed to several factors, such as:

  • The rise of AVOD and FAST channels in streaming viewership

AVOD (ad-supported video on demand) and FAST (free ad-supported TV streaming) channels are gaining momentum due to their viewer-friendly approach. Some of the reasons are:

  • AVOD offers free content to viewers who agree to watch ads, using the ad revenue for content production and distribution.
  • FAST channels provide a live TV experience without a subscription, allowing marketers to incorporate ads seamlessly into regular streaming breaks.
  • SVOD (subscription video on demand), the leading OTT model, has spurred the growth of AVOD and FAST options due to intense competition for viewer subscriptions.
  •  The emergence of OTT subscription bundles

A study by Parks Associates revealed that 59 per cent of OTT subscribers favour bundled services, combining OTT with other home subscriptions. Such bundles offer simplicity, value, and convenience, allowing customers to enjoy a diverse range of content in a single, cost-effective package. This trend represents a move towards integrated OTT solutions, offering a streamlined way to access various streaming services.

The future of OTT in India

The future of Over-the-Top (OTT) media services in India is poised for significant growth, driven by factors such as increasing internet penetration, a burgeoning young population, and a shift in content consumption habits. As of 2023, India's OTT market is experiencing rapid expansion, with projections indicating a continual rise.

According to a report by PwC, India is expected to become the world's sixth-largest OTT market by the end of 2024. The proliferation of affordable smartphones and cheaper data plans have democratised access to online streaming platforms.

In addition to this, regional content production is on the rise, catering to a diverse linguistic audience, which is a unique aspect of the Indian market. This trend is not only attracting domestic players but also global giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime, who are investing heavily in local content. The increasing competition among these platforms is likely to drive innovation and quality, offering a wider range of choices for consumers.

(Aroon Kumar is the VP - Brand & Marketing at M Square Media – MSM)

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