How does the foray of new OTT players impact the future of content?
What is it that strikes you the most about your favourite TV series? Is it a foreboding sense of doom and melancholy, a cliffhanger ending or the transition you see in your favourite characters ala Breaking Bad?
A certain semblance of normalcy has resumed in most parts of the world in the wake of the pandemic. The hustle and bustle of the commute, the screaming billboards, and the occasional tea break at work have suddenly become a part of our lives again.
The competition intensifies
In an already crowded OTT marketplace where Netflix, Amazon, and Disney plus Hotstar are battling for a billion potential viewers, Gautam Adani and Mukesh Ambani, Asia’ two wealthiest men, through their respective ventures are planning to take the OTT market in India by storm.
In a funding round led by James Murdoch-backed Bodhi Tree Systems, Ambani’s local joint venture with Paramount Global, Viacom18 Media Pvt., is slated to get 135 billion rupees ($1.8 billion). Separately, the tycoon’s flagship company, Adani Enterprises Ltd., announced the formation of a new media division, indicating his desire to capitalise on the rising sector.
The Viacom18 investment and Adani’s foray into media usher in a new era in the competition for eyes and content in a market that boasts a thriving local film industry, a burgeoning middle class, and fast-increasing internet connectivity. However, it has proven to be a difficult market. Netflix, for example, has had to reduce its rates in order to attract price-conscious customers.
Adani is only getting started in the Indian media sector, while Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd. is expanding its footprint through his Network18 Media & Investments Ltd. According to a statement, Adani Media Ventures Ltd. agreed to buy a share in Quintillion Business Media Pvt. last month. Quintillion was a Bloomberg LP (parent company of Bloomberg News) Indian partner.
Viacom18 is preparing for an epic battle with Disney, Amazon, and Sony Group Corp. for broadcast rights to the Indian Premier League, or IPL, a prized annual cricket tournament that is roughly equivalent to the Super Bowl, with $1.8 billion from Bodhi Tree and an additional $216 million from a Reliance arm. Bids are expected to reach $5 billion, according to news reports.
Changing status quo
The value engineering of content on demand across OTT platforms has changed drastically. From Sacred Games to Mirzapur and even the recent Squid Games, audiences in India have become accustomed to seeing the changing dynamics of media content, especially when it comes to quantity and quality. No longer are fillers and dull-trodden clichés welcome. The novelty factor is something that rides high apart from engaging storytelling.
According to the size of the OTT market in India, consumption minutes have increased from 181 to 204 billion minutes in 2021. It’s impossible to deny that OTT is taking control. But what is the cause of this expansion, and how does it effect India’s diverse population? The numbers speak for themselves:
- By 2023, India will have a massive increase in OTT subscribers. There are currently 350 million users, but it is expected to grow to 500 million by 2020.
- Disney+ is a new streaming service from Disney. Hotstar has 43 million users, making it India’s most comprehensive OTT service, followed by Netflix with 5 million subscribers and Amazon Prime with 17 million.
- Hotstar has dominated the OTT market, accounting for 29% of total viewership. In 2020, the platform’s revenue is expected to be over 16 billion Indian rupees.
- Apart from Adani and Ambani, there are several venture capitalists who are investing upwards of USD 1 billion in India’s growing OTT market.
The ease of use and instant accessibility of OTT platforms has made it a no brainer for contemporary audiences. While urban locations have already seen a deluge of OTT options, rural places are still ripe for OTT expansion. However, the constantly changing palate of Indian audiences, rampant piracy, and the complexities of regional content are some of the challenges that exist for new and old OTT players.